Every year on our annual family holiday to France we try to give the children a mix of days out. Adventure trips usually feature high on their wish list and they have their favourites they like to repeat, but Nick and I like to introduce something new each year too and introduce a little learning. Last year we visited Avignon together with its famous bridge for the first time. This year we found the ‘Grotte de Trabuc’, a series of underground caves, with an excellent write up and despite some reluctance from the triplets, we loaded up with a picnic and hit the road.
We had no idea what to expect, although our French cousins spoke very highly of their visit years ago. For starters, the coolness of the caves gave us a welcome break from the searing mid day heat. We joined a guided tour, although thankfully we had our own English hand held translation, as the guided tour was all in French.
The steps take you down underground into a magical world created by nature and enhanced by man with some helpful lighting. Whether or not you have an interest in Geology and Chemistry, you can’t fail to be impressed by the beauty of the caves. They were first discovered by smugglers in the 1800s who would hide in there; some basic weapons have been recovered and displayed.
The original entrance is not accessible to the public, but it must have been a wonderful haven for those entering years ago.
Grotte de Trabuc holds a scientific secret
There are some scientific conundrums in the caves. Every calcium deposit dripping from the ceiling forms a stalactite and corresponding stalagmite below, however there is a section in the caves known as ‘the room of 1000 solders’. Here there are stalagmites growing which resemble solders on a battle field but with no corresponding Stalactite above them. No one knows how they were formed, they are the only ones of their type known to exist in the world.
Perhaps the most spectacular areas of all are the crystal clear pools of water. They are in various shades of turquoise, depending on the sulphur and mineral content of the rock, and simply breathtaking.
One such pool at the deepest point is large enough for a kayak to travel across. A waterfall cascades from the river Gardon, this feeds the water supply through the caves.
Back out in daylight we found a quite picnic table overlooking the stunning mountains to enjoy our lunch. Here we ate and chatted over our favourite aspects of the tour. Nick did his degree in Geography was very helpful filling in any follow up questions from the kids.
Even the triplets who were a little reluctant to visit couldn’t help but be mesmerised by all they saw at the Grotte de Trabuc. Hopefully it added to their geography and chemistry knowledge base.
Tips for visiting the Grotte de Trabuc
Most suitable for older children who can appreciate the explanations of the cave formation and features.
Not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs or elderly unsure of their footing.
Wear sensible footwear as it is damp with puddles in the lowest sections.
€10 for adults and €6 for children, but watch out over 12 counts as adult.
If you have an interest in geology this is a must, with just a passing interest I still thoroughly enjoyed the visit.
The cafe is very basic and there are no other restaurants close by so a picnic is a good idea.
Take a jumper, it is much cooler inside the caves even in midsummer.
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