Gouffre d'Esparros


Useful Information

Location: Esparros.
Open: FEB to MAY Wed 14-18, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-12, 14-18.
JUN to SEP daily 10-12, 14-18.
OCT Thu 14-18, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-12, 14-18.
French School Holidays daily 10-12, 14-18.
Tours every 30min. Booking required for groups, recommended for individuals.
[2011]
Fee: Adults EUR 8, Children (6-16) EUR 5.50, Students EUR 6.50.
Groups (+): Adults EUR 5.50, Children (6-16) EUR 4.50.
[2011]
Classification: ExplainKarst cave
Light: electric.
Dimension: T=12.8°C
Guided tours: D=60min., L=600m. (Français - French English Español - Spanish Deutsch - German)
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Gouffre d'Esparros, 65130 Esparros, Tel: +33-5-6239-1180. E-mail: contact
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.

History

1913 first exploration by Austrian cavers.
1931 begin of exploration by Norbert Casteret.
1938 cave discovered by Norbert Casteret and Germain Gattet.
1938 cave closed by an iron door.
1942 radio broadcast from the cave.
1945 underground mass.
1972 first planning study for the development as a show cave.
1990 planning of the show cave revived.
01-AUG-1997 cave opened to the public.

Description

The cave Gouffre d'Esparros (Abyss of Esparros) in one of numerous potholes in the area. According to legend, it was discovered by a shepherd who had lost a lamb. In 1913 Austrian cavers tried to explore the cave and descended into the pothole, but could not discover a cave behind. In 1931 Norbert Casteret started another approch to explore the cave. After seven years of research he discovered the cave system behind the pothole together with his companion Germain Gattet in 1938. To protect the cave, the natural entrance was closed by an iron door in 1938.

Norbert Casteret used the cave during World War II to store secret documents. In 1942 the first radion report form a cave was made from this cave. In April 1945, at the end of World War II a mass was held underground inside the cave. For this purpose a statue of Virgin Mary was placed on a stalagmite. The statue can still be seen, in a chamber which is called salle de la vierge (chamber of the virgin) today.

After that the cave was almost forgotten, until in 1972 a study to develop the cave as a show cave was made. But the project was abandoned. In 1990 a second study was undertaken, and this time it was followed by the development and finally the opening to the public in 1997.

The entrance part of the cave consists of a labyrinth of narrow passages. For the development an artificial tunnel was dug which goes directly to the lower floor of the cave system from the nearby valley. This part is filled with extraordinary spelethems, especially aragonite.