Les Grottes de Savonnieres

While we were in France in the summer, one of the places we visited were some caves, Les Grottes de Savonnieres.   

These caves were interesting because of the calcium deposits which dripped everywhere and left stalagtites and stalagmites.  

calcification in cave

At first, I thought ‘oh no, just another lot of caves!’ until I saw the use which the enterprising owners had put them to…

In the gift shop were lots of relief pictures which I thought had been engraved.    I don’t have any pictures of them, unfortunately, because we didn’t buy any, but if you go to the above website and click on ‘Museum and Shop’ you can see some.

All became clear when my rusty French managed to decipher the guide’s commentary – the pictures were made from rubber moulds being placed underneath the caves’ dripping calcium deposits.  After a few years, they were full of the mineral and on removal from the mould, you could see the picture!

Here are some in the process of being created:

calcified pictures

Here are some stalagtites (I learnt the difference between stalagtites and stalagmites by reading Enid Blyton when I was a child – Stalagtites hold TIGHT to the roof, while stalagmites MIGHT reach the roof some day’!).

stalagtites in caves

They also put articles like jugs under the calcifying drips and they were covered with limestone (according to the website… ). 

piles of crockery being covered in limestone by the dripping deposits

There was an area which was curiously beehive-like in its formation – I think this was caused by the ripples of water going over it.

ripply limestone

All in all it was much more interesting than I thought it was going to be!

cave tunnel

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3 Responses to Les Grottes de Savonnieres

  1. Rayna December 19, 2007 at 5:05 am #

    Fascinating! Thanks for the tour, Liz. And have a happy, healthy holiday season and New Year.

  2. Mags December 19, 2007 at 4:43 pm #

    Interesting pictures.
    I’d always remembered the difference as ‘tights’ fall down, ‘mites’ grow up!

  3. Marianne January 4, 2008 at 9:42 pm #

    les stalagtites tombent et les stalagmites montent!
    Happy 2008
    anybody needs translation?