A row of troglodyte houses, in the Impasse des Carrières. This street dominates the valley of the Nonette, at the top of a south-facing hill. Photo by P. Poschadel
A row of troglodyte houses, in the Impasse des Carrières. This street dominates the valley of the Nonette, at the top of a south-facing hill.
Photo by P. Poschadel

A long time ago, 1992 (I looked it up) I read about people living in converted caves in an article in Awake Magazine.

In the Loire Valley of France, cave living became fashionable among a number of wealthy families. There you could see a cave that was converted into a sitting room, dining room, and kitchen​—a series of chambers one behind the other that extended deep into the cliff. Another home was designed with a number of caves side by side. Each cave had windows and a glass-​paned door built into the opening of the cave, permitting light to enter. The families living in these caves went to considerable expense to modernize them with running water, electricity, and other conveniences, including forced-​air ventilation in order to combat dampness and mildew.

Awake Magazine: Look at the Places We Call Home – Homes Belowground

This really piqued my curiosity at the time. Now I found some photos.

A troglodyte house in La Roque-Gageac in Dordogne, France Photo by Jebulon
A troglodyte house in La Roque-Gageac in Dordogne, France
Photo by Jebulon

If you search, you can find a lot of photos of these houses.

Rochemenier Troglodyte Village, Louresse-Rochemenier, Maine-et-Loire, France Photo by Remi Jouan
Rochemenier Troglodyte Village, Louresse-Rochemenier, Maine-et-Loire, France
Photo by Remi Jouan

Kristin Ohlson describes them when she visited the area in 2009.

“… near the chateau in Amboise, I noticed caves in the cliff, some with brightly painted front doors, windows, shutters and flower boxes. As we drove around the Loire Valley, I spied more of these domesticated caves, some with chimneys thrusting through scruffy vegetation at the tops of cliffs or new facades and courtyards. Oh yes, someone finally explained: after widespread quarrying of the tuffeau began in the 11th century and created cavities in the hills and plains, people moved in. Some to escape warfare, others because the caves made convenient, low-rent dwellings. Until the early 20th century, many people lived in these so-called troglodyte homes. Entire villages were underground.”

A Tour of France’s Cave Homes
Kristin Ohlson smithsonianmag.com May 18, 2009

Garden around the door to an underground house Photo by P. Poschadel
Garden around the door to an underground house
Photo by P. Poschadel

Some of the cave houses are grouped in communities. Others are more isolated.

Dining room in the Maison des Rochers de Graufthal, Bas-Rhin, France Photo by Camille Gévaudan
Dining room in the Maison des Rochers de Graufthal, Bas-Rhin, France
Photo by Camille Gévaudan

Maison des Rochers de Graufthal is three semi-troglodyte rock houses. Archaeologists believe they have been used since the Middle Ages.

They were lived in until 1958. They have been restored and are open to visitors.

Dining room in the Maison des Rochers de Graufthal, Bas-Rhin, France Photo by Camille Gévaudan
Dining room in the Maison des Rochers de Graufthal, Bas-Rhin, France
Photo by Camille Gévaudan

The houses were built in caves in red sandstone with tile roofs where they are not underground. They were built into the rock with the inside whitewashed.

Two of the houses share this kitchen.

Catherine Ottermann's bedroom in the Maison des Rochers by Graufthal Photo by Camille Gévaudan
Catherine Ottermann’s bedroom in the Maison des Rochers by Graufthal
Photo by Camille Gévaudan

The houses have a small bedroom for the parents and a larger room for children.

The stable, hayloft and granary were underground, too.

Charming Troglodyte House - Loire Valley Cave Home on Airbnb
Charming Troglodyte House – Loire Valley Cave Home on Airbnb

Cave House on Airbnb

Now you can stay in one of these underground houses. They are on Airbnb.

Charming Troglodyte House – Loire Valley Cave Home

Troglodyte house, also called home cave, are typical of the Loire Valley.

Even if it was for a long time a rustic place to live in, for poor people, we can now live there with a great comfort, as you can see on photos and reviews. By occupying this place, you will live in the middle of a rock formed millions of years ago ! On closer inspection, you can even discover fossils of shells.

The troglodyte house is a 43 square meter arranged as a loft. It consists of a bedroom area with a double bed (160×200) and an extra bed (80×180), a fully equipped kitchen area and a dining room, a lounge area with a fireplace and a bathroom.

A small room adjoining the sîte allows to store bicycles. Internet access in Wifi + network and television.

Charming Troglodyte House – Loire Valley Cave Home on Airbnb

Cave dwelling in Kandovan, Iran Photo by Fabienkhan
Cave dwelling in Kandovan, Iran
Photo by Fabienkhan

Other Underground Cave Houses

France is not the only place people turned caves into homes or built homes underground.

Cave house in Matera, Basilicata, Southern Italy
Cave house in Matera, Basilicata, Southern Italy

And you can stay in them.

Church of San Giorgio built inside the sinkhole located near the village of Didima, Greece Photo by Nicola Quirico
Church of San Giorgio built inside the sinkhole located near the village of Didima, Greece
Photo by Nicola Quirico

Living in a Cave