Five of the best caves to explore in France

26th July, 2016
As well as being famous for its more recent history, France, and the south in particular, is also well-known for being home to some of the best-preserved ancient history sites in Europe. In both Provence and Dordogne, these are best seen in the caves, which act as both historical and geological marvels. Not only are they full of amazing views which will dazzle visitors of all ages, but they also have some incredible stories to tell about the people who once called them their home. Below are our recommendations which are well worth visiting on your luxury family holidays in France.

Aven d’Orgnac, Provence

Offering an hour-long guided tour, a visit to the Aven d’Orgnac caves will take you through several enormous chambers and past many staggering stalactites and stalagmites. If it’s too hot outdoors for the kids, this is a great place to take them as the temperature inside remains at a constant cool 13°C. There’s no need to worry about the climb back out, either, as a lift will take you up out of the caves at the end of the tour.

Gouffre de Padirac, Dordogne

This spectacular cave is so huge that part of the 90-minute tour offered is taken by gondola. As you gently traverse the water, you’ll see a number of striking and interesting geological features. Gouffre de Padirac is no longer the area’s best-kept secret, however, so the queues can be quite long. If you’re travelling from a long distance away, a great idea is to combine the trip with a visit to the pretty town of Rocamadour.

Gouffre de Proumeyssac, Dordogne

For those looking for a little more adventure while exploring the caves, try the Gouffre de Proumeyssac. Your time here will begin with an entertaining sound and light show, before you are lowered in a basket through a hole in the ceiling of the cave into the main cave itself (it is possible to walk down instead!). Also referred to as the Crystal Cathedral, these caves have earned their nickname thanks to their unique crystal structures which stand alongside some attractive stalactites and stalagmites.

La Grotte du Grand Roc

With the entrance located halfway up a cliff face, it was a huge surprise to all when La Grotte du Grand Roc was first discovered in 1927. Inside the cave, visitors will discover some unusual triangular crystallised rock formations alongside the typical stalactites and stalagmites. The tour around the caves is a short one, so perfect for kids, though it may be worth combining your visit with a trip somewhere else nearby.

Lascaux II Show Caves

First discovered in 1940, the Lascaux caves are perhaps the most famous in France. While the original caves remain open to only those who are studying them, an extremely faithful replica which has been 15 years in the making has also opened to the public. The famous cave paintings which line the walls have been painstakingly recreated, making this a truly fascinating place to visit for anyone interested in ancient history.

Image: Steve Jurvertson, Claude Valette, available under Creative Commons