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Loire wine tours, tastings, day trips from Paris & short breaks organised by experienced English wine trade professionals.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Les sous-terrains at Chateau de Pimpéan

Maryse Tugendhat had been promising us for a while that we could go down and have a look at the sous-terrains under Chateau de Pimpéan. Last night, we donned our scruffy gear and went down for the first time. The entrance to the network of tunnels is barely visible above ground, a series of slate slabs covers the hole which is located a short distance away from the chateau itself. We weren't quite sure what to expect and in fact I was initally a bit of a weed as once we had uncovered the entrance we were faced with a narrow well-like tunnel into which we lowered the biggest ladder we could find in the winery. The ladder was not long enough to reach the top so it required a 'leap of faith' and a little clinging on to the narrow metal bars that straddle the opening before your feet made contact with the ladder.

Here's a short video that shows us opening up the entrance. I couldn't take any video after this point but managed to hang the camera around my back while I went down the ladder so took some photos once down in the tunnels.

Dropping the ladder down the entrance tunnel

Spencer was the first to go down

Incredible - a whole series of vaulted tunnels all interlinking

Looking back up at our support team

You can see from the size of the ladder just how deep it is

Places to rest, sleep and eat are carved out of the tuffeau

And afterwards, fresh fouasses cooked in the ancient oven at the chateau

All washed down with a glass of Crémant and some Chateau de Pimpéan Cuvee Passion 2005 of course which was tasting delicious

And this is how it looks normally, a tiny area covered with a few slate slabs.

Chateau de Pimpéan was a Catholic stronghold during the French wars of religion during the 16th century and these tunnels and galleries were used to provide a safe place for those seeking refuge. Many of the galleries are no longer accessible but it's incredible to see what lies deep beneath the ground so many years later. A really amazing insight into life in ancient times.

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