Les Cathédrales de la Saulaie

Useful Information

Location: Doué la Fontaine. 20 km from Saumur.
Open: 19-JAN to 20-DEC Tue-Sun.
Fee: Menu Fouaces: Adults EUR 23.50, Children (-12) EUR 12.50.
Classification: SubterraneaCave House
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Les Cathédrales de la Saulaie, 412 rue de Montfort, 49700 Doué la Fontaine, Tel: +33-241-385777, Fax: +33-241-385785.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



Les Cathédrales de la Saulaie is a restaurant located inside a 19th century underground falun (shelly sand) quarry. The chambers look like a cathedral, as they are very high, hence the name. Saulaie means willow plantation.

The restaurant uses several of the chambers, the rest may be visited freely after the meal, we guess this means no visitation for non-guests. The huge restaurant seats 322 guests. It is specialized on local dishes, The recommended meal is called spécialité de fouées. Fouées or fouaces are small round loafs which are freshly baked in a special wood fired oven. Then they are filled with rillettes (a french meat paste), peas and other ingredients.

The former quarry is located below ground in the suburbs of Doué la Fontaine, in an almost flat landscape, which at first shows no signs of its underground riches. The rock is still quarried, but now open cast and a few hundred meters to the north. The groundwater is rather high in this area, so the quarries reached the water table now and then. Some of the chambers are flooded by ground water with the typical blue colour caused by the high amount of limestone.

After the quarrying some of the chambers were used as cave houses. The people changed the rooms, integrated shafts for light and fresh air, and fire places with chimneys. When the place was renovated to become a restaurant, after it was unused for a very long time, the rooms were cleaned but otherwise left in their original state. The furniture and the necessary modern equipment of a restaurant fit in perfectly.