The cellars of Bouvet-Ladubay by bike!
Did you know you can cycle through the troglodyte cellars of Bouvet-Ladubay, hollowed out of Saumur's "tuffeau" limestone? An unexpected experience to say the least with the famous producer of fine sparkling wine, where a few surprises, like this astonishing underground cathedral...
A two-kilometre cycle on vintage bikes
Get on your retro bike, adjust your head-torch, and set off through an incredible network of galleries cut from the rock, under the hillside itself. This is an amazing exploration of the Bouvet-Ladubay cellars, which sometimes plunge visitors forty metres underground and which can vary from two to fifteen metres in height. The scent of the stone mingles with that of the oak barrels that unveil the secrets of this historic site, over the course of the hour-and-a-half jaunt through two of its eight kilometres of cellars.
An underground cathedral in the cellars!
As you pedal through the shadows, guided by the faint beam of your head-torch, something strange attracts your attention. An imposing stone pillar appears, looking like the forgotten remains of a monument. You move to get a closer look. The column is actually sculpted from the rock itself! Along the circuit, the artist Philippe Cormand has crafted the monumental elements of an underground cathedral, including some light and sound effects for part of the tour. This serves as a reminder that tuffeau was mined in order to build a large number of monuments around France.
Tasting of four cuvées at the end of the tour
During the circuit, various stop-off points allow a guide to explain various elements, introduce the cellars, unlock the secrets of the vinification process and maturation in oak barrels, talk about the various methods of disgorging, dosing and corking, and more. A tasting of four cuvées then allows visitors to see the product of this extensive work. After all that pedalling, you'll have earned it!
Other curiosities to discover
The surprises don't end with this unexpected tour of the Bouvet-Ladubay cellars! There are other amazing things to see, like the restored office of Etienne Bouvet, who founded the brand in 1851, the 19th century library with its collection of 5,000 old labels, or even the archive rooms. Don't miss Bouvet-Ladubay's small theatre, built in 1904, either, which seats 150 and still hosts shows on its Italian-style set. There's also a contemporary art centre in an old power station, where exhibitions are held all year round.