Grottes de Trabuc


Useful Information

Location: On the Cévennes route by the Pont du Gard - Uzès - Anduze. 10 mins from d'Anduze and 20 mins from d'Alès. (44°06'28.47"N, 3°57'32.75"E)
Open: Mid-FEB to MAR daily 14:30, 15:30, 16:30.
APR to MAY daily 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
JUN daily 10:30, 11:30, 13, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
JUL to AUG daily 10-18:30, at least every 45 minutes.
SEP daily 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
OCT to 11-NOV daily 14:30, 15:30, 16:30.
[2014]
Fee: Adults EUR 9.90, Children (5-12) EUR 6.20.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 7.60, Children (13-17) EUR 5.80, Children (5-12) EUR 4.70.
[2014]
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=7,000m, T=14°C.
Guided tours: D=1h.
Photography: Allowed. Video allowed.
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Grottes de Trabuc, Jean-Pierre Lauret, 30140 Mialet par Anduze, Tel: +33-466-850328, Tel: +33-466-261075. E-mail: contact
Safari Souterrain, BP 121, 34003 Montpellier Cedex, Reservations Tel: +33-467-661111, Fax: +33-467-662727. 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.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:54:57 $

History

 
1823exploration by Nicod and Gallière.
1945new cave parts discovered by Mr Vaucher and his sons.
1949-1950access tunnel constructed by the Section Speleologie of Cercle Amical des Mineurs d'Ales.
1974new access tunnel constructed.

Description

The Grottes de Trabuc are claimed to be the largest show cave in the Cevennes. Situated on the edge of the National Parc of the Cevennes, it is visited every year with thousands of tourists. Although the cave was inhabited in Neolithic and Roman times, it was not until the 1950's that a 40 m long artificial tunnel was dug, allowing the visitors an easy access into the cave.

The section which is open to the public has been given special protection in order to preserve the rare diversity of colours and crystals. The colours in the cave appear to change every few meters owing to the many oxides which are present in the rock.

The decor is magnificent. The cave is spectacularly lit, the crystals shine like brilliants in the powerful lights. There are numerous waterfalls and lakes, and the limestone is being constantly sculpted by the movement of water. The underground water comes to the surface a few kilometers away, to join the river Gardon de Mialet, which is a real paradise for swimmers.

The cave of Trabuc is famous for its 100,000 soldiers, these are small stalagmites with a maximum height of 10 cm. The soldiers are unique in the caving world. Their existence and genesis is still a mystery.

Apart from guided tours an extended tour off the normal tourist section is also available. It lasts for 5 hours and takes place throughout the year. The five hour trips have to be booked in advance, 6 persons are required for the trip, but it is possible for individuals to join a larger group. Usual times for the wild caving trips are between 13.00 and 18.00 with other times by arrangement.


Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.

It seems, Trabuc was known to man since the early days. An early excavation by E. Dumas revealed human and animal bones and tools. So the cave was visited during the Stone Age and the Roman times. The reason is rather easy to understand: a narrow entrance leads to bigger chamber with water, which offers shelter, drinking water and protection, as the narrow entrance was easy to defend.

The cave was used by Camisards during the Reformation period as a hideout and gunpowder factory. The troops of the King closed this and all other cave entrances in the area, to make them inaccessible.

One century later the cave was open again, and used by Trabucaires, obviously the origin of the name. The Trabuc (blunderbuss) was a muzzle-loading firearm typically worn by bandits, which were thus called Trabucaires. They loaded it with gunpowder and scrap metal, which made it extremely dangerous.

In this time the first cave explorations started, locals wanted to know all secrets of their caves. The explored them rather intensive, but did not leave descriptions or reports, so only legends, not even their names, is knwn today.

The first documented exploration was made by Nicod and Gallière in 1823. The were early speleologists who did consequent research, and their results were documented. But they also had problems, so Gallière once got lost and also lost his light. He stayed for 52 hours in the cave, and when he was found he was nibbling his laces and drinking his urine to survive.

In 1889 the entomologists V. Maget and G. Mignaud discovered an unknown kind of niphargus and named it Bathyscia mialetensis in honour of Mialet Caves. This was the name of this cave at this time.

The first speleologic exploration is officially the 1899 visit by Mazauric, a collegue of E. A. Martel. He published the description of this exploration in the Société Spéléologique de France bulletin. The first map of the cave was published in 1920 in the journal Spelunca.

The part of the cave which was explored and visited in this early times is today called les anciennes grottes (the ancient caves). This does not mean the age of the caves, it means that they were known and visited for centuries. Tourists visiting the cave entered through the natural entrance and the lower passage of L'Estrangladou into the Salle des Vasques. Guides were holding a candle or torch, but the huge chamber was lit by Bengal lights which the guides sold. Those lghts were producing a lot of poisonous smoke, but the huge chamber is well ventilated, so no harm was done to the people. And actually this was the only possibility to light this enormous chamber at that time.

In opposite to the ancient caves there are the new discoveries, which means all the discoveries after the breakthrough of Monsieur Vaucher in 1945. He found new parts, and typical for those early days, immediately started to develep them as a show cave and integrate them into the tourist tour. Together with his sons, Marc and Olivier, he developed new galleries, but also opened a new cave system for exploration which extended the length of the cave to more than 7 kilometers.


See also


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