Grotte des Demoiselles

Cave of the Fairies


Useful Information

Location: Saint-Bauzille de Putois (Hérault). North of Monpellier.
Open: JAN to MAR daily 9:45-12, 13:30-1730, tours at 10, 11, 12, 14, 15:15, 16:30.
APR to JUN daily 9:45-18, tours at 10, 11, 12, 13:30, 14, 14:30, 15, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
JUL TO AUG daily 9-19, tours continually between 9:45 and 18.
SEP daily 9:45-18, tours at 10, 11, 12, 13:30, 14, 14:30, 15, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
OCT to DEC daily 9:45-12, 13:30-1730, tours at 10, 11, 12, 14, 15:15, 16:30.
[2004]
Fee: Adults EUR 7,90, Children (13-18) EUR 5,50, Children (6-12) EUR 4,40, Children (-6) free, Students EUR 6,30. Groups (20+): Adults EUR 5,80, Colaires Secondaires EUR 4,50, Scolaires Primaires EUR 3,80. [2004]
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light: electric.
Dimension: T=14°C.
Guided tours: D=60min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Guilhelm de Gruilly (1989): La Grotte Des Demoiselles, Grapho 12, ISBN 2950171427
Address: Grotte des Demoiselles, Saint-Bauzille de Putois, F-34190 Ganges, Tel: +33-467-737002, Fax: +33-467-733232.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:54:52 $

History

 
known for a very long time.
13th centuryfirst known visit of the cave.
07-JUL-1780first exploration by Ms Lonjon, his son, and Benoît Joseph Marsollier de Vivetières.
15-JUL-1780the same people plus some more explore the cave.
1822visited by Professor Amelin.
1834visited by the author Alphonse de Cailleux who described this visit in the book Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans ancienne France (Picturesque and Romantic Journeys in Old France).
1884first visited by  Edouard Alfred Martel
1889second visit by  Edouard Alfred Martel
1897explored by  Edouard Alfred Martel
1929the Société des Sites et Monuments du Languedoc Méditerranéeen (Languedoc Mediterranean Sites and Monuments Society) decided to drill a tunnel to allow the people to discover this wonder of nature.
1931funicular and cave opened to the public.
1970new explorations by GSUM, the speleologists from Montpellier University and the cave guide Gaston Issert.
1973more explorations reveal more chambers with extraordinary speleothems.
1998closed for refurbishment.
2002reopened with new facilities.

Description

Descending the pass between the Esperou and Lingas mountains one enters the Hérault Gorge. Just past Ganges the Grotte de Demoiselles (Fairies Cave) is to be found. The original entrance to this cave was at the top of the hill, but with a touch of engineering genius, the owner bored a 180m long tunnel from the cliff face, half way up the hill at an angle of 45°. The spoil from the tunnel was used to make an extensive terrace car park. An electrically assisted rock railway takes one up to the natural cave.

A series of narrow, winding passages, 6 to 10m high leads to the Upper Entrance. The guide then prepares visitors for the piece de resistance of the trip, an enormous chamber called the Salle de Vierge (The Virgin's Hall) which measures 86m across and is 52m high. The tour is cunningly planned, going first to near the bottom of the chamber, then upwards towards the roof, then around the chamber, in and out of the formations, and finally returning to the starting point. Our guide was a real comedian, and at one stage of the tour he began to beat out a turn on some formations. He and the audience became very engrossed in the rhythm, and when he had finished he was met with loud, enthusiastic applause, the man should take his act to an agent.


Text by Tony Oldham (2003). Based on an article in The British Caver Vol 58 1972 by Jim Smart. With kind permission.

A technical highlight of the cave tour is the funicular. The tour starts at the cave entrance on the foot of an impressing cliff. The funicular goes up 51.5m into the cave.

In former centuries strange creatures could be seen on the Plateau du Thaurac. The farmers of the area often saw strange things in white clothes around a well known cave entrance. One of these farmers named Jean, who had seen the creatures himself, decided to find out where they were coming from and what they were doing. He was obviously braver and more curious than the others.

Jean entered the cave in the evening at sundawn. First he did not deiscover anything and after some hours he bacame tired. He said down and fell asleep. At midnight he awoke by bright white light and saw a woman who held a child on her arms. She tells him to follow her, and he obeys. But he falls into a deep pit where he passed out.

After some time, he did not know how much, he came out from his unconsciousness. But now the whole scene had changed. The big chamber was lighted in red, producing light reflections which run down the stalagmites like blood. It seems like molten metal is standing in the pools. On a huge pedestal the woman with the child stood, around her nearly naked women dancing with open hair. The sounds of loughing devils is coming from the dark places of the cave. A deep roaring was sounding up from a deep pit. Again he passed out.

The next day Jean is found in the cave by friends. After they brought him back to consciousness, he tells this story. So the cave was named Bauma de las Fadas (Cave of the Fairies).


Old Legend.

Obviously this story does not tell about the fairies known from fairy tales, good beeings fulfilliong wishes. This fairies are like bad witches, and mangle with the devil. A little strage is, that they did not harm Jean, he just fell into a pit. And from the modern viewpoint one would say he becamefearful in the dark cave, did not watch his steps, fell down a shaft and became halucinations because of his heavy injuries. Msot likely he banged his head.


See also


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