Tuffeau is a white/cream, fine grained limestone quarried in and around the Loire valley and the river's tributaries in France. It was formed around 90 million years ago during the Mesozoic era.
Tuffeau should not be confused with Tuff stone (a consolidated volcanic stone) or with Tufa stone (a travertine type stone), both of which have quite different technical properties.
Chateau Azay Le Rideau
It has been widely used as a building material for the most grandiose royal chateaux down to the humblest of cottages.
Technically, Tuffeau is a lightweight, stone that is about half the density of an average granite and up to 50 times more porous than granite. In spite of these apparent disadvantages, it has been used for centuries to create many of France's most iconic buildings.
The advantage of Tuffeau is that it is a uniform and homogenous stone perfectly suited for use as building blocks and for carving. Our Chitré Tuffeau quarry is kept busy supplying fresh cut blocks for the renovation of the region's architecture.
The extraction of the stone has left several hundreds of kilometres of caves, some of which had been turned into "troglodyte" dwellings. The caves provided a constant temperature throughout summer and winter. These qualities also made them ideal for use as "champignonnieres" for the production of mushrooms.
Some of the caves still produce mushrooms but many are now used as restaurants or quirky holiday rental properties.
Recently, Tuffeau has been considered for use as a replacement for the English Clunch limestone which is proving difficult to source nowadays.
It is also perfect for those learning the art of stone carving as it is soft but relatively uniform in texture and grain.
We keep samples of Tuffeau (and many other French limestones) at our little samples showroom in Arborfield, near Reading, Berkshire in the UK. Please call, email or leave a message on the form on this page if you'd like to visit the showroom or receive samples.
Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you.