Rue des Grottes 46, 4170 Comblain-au-Pont.
Comblain-au-Pont, South of Liege. From Liege A26/E25 to exit 46 Remouchamps, follow N633d, then N633 to Comblain-au-Pont, in the city turn right to Mont, after 700 m turn left, signposted.
15-JUN to 15-SEP daily 11, 13, 14:30, 16.
All Saints School Holidays daily 11, 13, 14:30, 16.
Adults EUR 9.50, Children (4-11) EUR 7.50, Children (0-3) free.
Groups: Adults EUR 8.50, Children (4-11) EUR 7.
|Classification:||Karst cave Rock Mine|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Dimension:||L=807 m, A=180 m asl, T=10 °C.|
|Guided tours:||D=75 min, L=365 m, St=600.|
Camille Ek, Jean Godissart (2007):
La Grotte et l'Abîme de Comblain-au-Pont,
Découverte de Comblain-au-Pont et environs, ASBL.
|Address:||Grotte de l'Abîme, Rue des Grottes 46, 4170 Comblain-au-Pont, Tel: +32-4-369-26-44. E-mail:|
|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.
|1900||discovered when a dog fell into an abyss and its owner, a girl from the village, alerted the authorities.|
|23-MAY-1902||explored by Ernest Van den Broeck, Edmond Rahir, and E. A. Martel.|
|1907||the cavers Doudou, Materne, H. and J. Denis explore the cave but are not able to extend the discoveries.|
|14-MAY-1925||the Chercheurs de la Wallonie discover most of the cave which is known today.|
|1925||Auguste Bry, the owner of the cave removes some sediments and discovers the salle du Mondmilch.|
|15-AUG-1929||cave opened to the public by Auguste Bry.|
|1971||Lucien Bry dies, cave operated by Gaby Legendre.|
|1975||the Grottes de Remouchamps sue Gaby Legendre, get control of the cave|
|1982||cave closed to the public.|
|1988||cave sold to Michel Guillaume.|
|1990||commune de Comblain-au-Pont purchases the cave and begins restauration.|
|APR-1994||show cave reopened.|
The name Grotte et Abime de Comblain-au-Pont is quite long and complicated and thus the much shorter names Grotte de Comblain or Grotte de l'Abîme are often used. Grotte de l'Abîme is a natural limestone cave. Abîme or abyss is the French term for a pothole, the natural cave entrance is a 22 m deep shaft.
The discovery of the cave is the result of the dog of a local girl falling into the abyss in 1900. As a result she alarmed the authorities, and it seems the weeping girl motivated them to actually enter the shaft. The police officer of Comblain, M. Dubuisson, organized the rescue. One man was lowered on a rope, but halfway down he dropped his lamp. There was still daylight at the bottom, and he was able to catch the dog and was pulled out. The cave was known for a long time, many animals and even people fell down and were dead or trapped. Remains from the 13th century like coins were found, so somebody threw them in. The abyss was known, there was just nobody in the town with the knowledge and equipment to climb down.
The early 20th century was the time when three cavers were searching for caves in Belgium and explored them. The hydrologist Ernest Van den Broeck, the geologist Edmond Rahir, and the famous E. A. Martel explored a lot of caves. They finally published their results in the two volumes book Les cavernes et les rivières souterraines de la Belgique in 1910. They explored this cave on 23-MAY-1902, using a rope ladder. A Comblainois named Collard joined them. They descended 50 m, discovered two chambers, and later published a map in their book.
Most of the cave was discovered in one year, in 1925, by the Chercheurs de la Wallonie club and by the owner Auguste Bry. Although the cave was considered unsuitable as a show cave, the owner Auguste Bry had a sloping tunnel dug. He actually opened the cave to the public on 15-AUG-1929. His son Lucien Bry continued the development, with the help of the cave guide Gaby Legendre. He died in 1971, and Gaby Legendre continued the operation of the show cave. At this time the Grottes de Remouchamps were operated by a company which was not interested in the protection of caves, only in making money. They sued Gaby Legendre in 1975 and as a result got control of the cave, which they closed down. It seems they also removed the equipment which they found worthwhile, and the cave was unfit as a show cave. The locals called this vandalism.
There are other strange stories from this cave. One is that two Professors of the Athénée Royal de Liège, L. Nys and M. Linsman, in 1931 used a microphone to detect the sound of a river. 60 years later the cavers actually found a cave river. This one sounds like the story about seashells where you can hear the sound of the sea. It's not that hard to guess that there might be a river in a cave and then actually there is a cave river.
The cave was closed for almost 20 years. But it seems the greedy Remouchamps operator was abandoned at some point. Then the cave was sold, the new owner was actually not interested in the cave, and so he was willing to sell the cave to the municipality. They renovated it for three years and reopened it in APR-1994. On one side the original electric system was destroyed, but on the other hand this was a chance to create a new and much better light system. The cave had a lot of bats, which entered the cave through the entrance shaft, but during the show cave operation they mostly vanished. The now development optimized the situation for the bats and so their numbers started to grow again. And finally the tours are now much different. They are educational, explaining the deposition of the limestone, the tectonic movements, the formation of caves, and the growth of speleothems. Numerous scientific papers and dissertations were made at the cave, about the distribution of carbon dioxide in the cave air, the formation of certain types of stalagmites and much more.
Interesting sights nearby are a 10 km geological path explaining the geology, but also the flora, of the region of Comblain-au-Pont. The cave is located at the border between the Condroz and the Famenne. The Ourthe-Amblève Council Museum shows the evolution of nature and man: regional archaeology of paleolithic, mesolithic, neolithic and metal ages, and from the Roman period to the Middle-Ages. And there is a bat center, where bats are protected and researched.