The Petrification

A strange and artistic universe

At Savonnières, the infiltration groundwater is highly charged with calcium carbonate. Since the mid-nineteenth century, these active and plentiful waters have been tamed to develop an unusual craft that only nature is the instigator: the Petrification.

By an extraordinary alchemy, the water loaded with calcium carbonate drips slowly on objects deposited under natural waterfalls and covers them with calcite and crystals of silica. The later gives them a glittering aspect. It takes about a year time before obtaining a sufficient layer of calcite. During that year, it is necessary to move each object every 3 weeks to ensure a harmonized layer and have details preserved.

These waters also encrust rubber moulds with calcite to produce magnificent bas-reliefs, pieces of art from nature. Elastomere moulds are made from copper matrix of the nineteenth century, and are placed under the waterfalls. Dripping limestone transported by water is slowly deposited in the smallest details of moulds. After 1-3 years of exposure under water, we proceed to a careful release, to keep all the details of the relief. A piece of Art is obtained, remarkable by its delicacy with colors ranging from pure white to ivory yellow. Some reliefs may be very translucent!


The work described above is a very slow process that requires constant adaptation to a natural wonder. 

All objects and paintings produced in the petrifying caves are then exposed, in our museum and our shop, to the visitors who discover the amazing work and the nature tamed by human.

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Les Grottes Pétrifiantes de Savonnières Villandry :
61 route des Grottes Pétrifiantes - 37510 Savonnières - Tél : 02 47 50 00 09