THE BLOG
01/12/2012 05:44 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2012

Cave House in Loire Is Charming Bioclimatic Troglodyte Home (VIDEO)

In the Saumur region of France there are over a thousand miles of underground tunnels and thousands of caves, known as "troglodytes," used as homes, hotels, restaurants, museums, wineries, farms (silkworms, mushrooms, snails) and even a disco and a zoo.

What makes this land so perfect for underground dwellings is its very malleable rock left from when this part of France was cover by sea 100 million years ago. During the Middle Ages the rock was quarried to build churches and castles, leaving tunnels and caves that turned out to be ideal homes.

Modern cave living

In 2000, when Henri Grevellec retired from teaching, he bought an old quarry and moved into one of the old caves. On his property in Grezille, France, there are 6 caves that had once housed quarry workers centuries ago.

The site was abandoned when Grevellec purchased it, but he cleared away the growth and renovated the caves himself. He put in a modern kitchen and bathroom and in his bedroom (at the far back of the cave) he added a skylight to improved air circulation and add a bit of light.

Earth shelter for no AC

Grevellec says the temperature in his cave home is naturally temperate. He doesn't need air conditioning and leads much less heat than a normal home because the earth walls act to naturally regulate the indoor temperature.

Of the six original caves, one became a guest room (which he connected by tunnel to his main home), another is now his workshop (for his stone-working tools), another he left as it once had been (complete with wood-burning oven) and he uses part of one as a wine cellar.