Les grottes de l'Aguzou

Aguzou's cave


Useful Information

Location: Mijanes, Aude département (11).
In the Gorges of the Aude river, at D188.
(42.761742, 2.090944)
Open: Full Day: All year daily 9.
Half Day: All year daily 9, 14.
Special tour: All year daily 9.
Only after appointment.
[2021]
Fee: Full Day: Adults EUR 60, Children (10-13) EUR 40.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 55, Children (10-13) EUR 30.
Half Day: Adults EUR 40.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 35.
Special tour: Adults EUR 80.
English Español - Spanish Français - French [2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=5,000 m, A=770 m asl, T=8.5 °C.
Guided tours: Full Day: D=7 h, Min=8, Max=12.
Half Day: D=3 h, Min=8, Max=12.
Special tour: D=8 h, Min=5, Max=6.
V=1,000/a [1999]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Les grottes de l'Aguzou, Philippe Moreno (Warden), 09460 Mijanès, Tel: +33-468-204538, Fax: +33-468-204538. 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

NOV-1893 description of the cave written by M. Gavoy, published in the bulletin de la Société d'Études Scientifiques de l'Aude.
1926 monograph on Aguzou with a survey published by Dr. Courrent in the bulletin de la Société d'Études Scientifiques de l'Aude.
1934 René Roger-Estrade and Raymond Azibert explore the cave discovering new galleries.
1935 Société Méridionale de transport de Force develops the cave with trails and electric light.
JUL-1965 new section of the cave discovered by the Bataillou family.
20-APR-1966 the Syndicat d'Initiative de Quillan and the Office National des Forêts signed a contract which allowed the development and exploitation of the cave by Jean Bataillou and Jacques Chapert.
1967 cave opened to the public.
1978 biospeleologist Louis Deharveng discovers a new species in the cave, Onychiurus cf. aguzouensis.
1988 a new operator was appointed to manage, develop and protect the site.
01-FEB-1990 declared a natural monument.
1998 the concession with the Syndicat d'Initiative was terminated by the Office National des Forêts, the contract was given to Philippe Moréno.

Description

The Grottes de l'Aguzou is used for cave trekking tours. There are no regular open hours, visits by small groups must be booked in advance. There are day or half-day trips. The route is fairly physical with some sporting sections but not difficult.

The entrance section of the cave was already known in prehistoric times. According to local lore they already used its healing waters. The thermal springs were finally used to operate a thermal resort, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century in front of the cave. The cave was explored and surveyed in the 1930s and subsequently developed with trails and electric light as a show cave. But after only ten years the footbridge, stairs and ramps started to rot due to lack of maintenance. The société M.T.F who operated the cave was nationalised and the show cave went corrupt. The cave was not only closed to the public, it was not gated and thus vandalized. Numerous speleothems were broken, destroyed or stolen.

In July 1965, the Bataillou family explored the first part of the cave. They noticed a crack at the far end, from which a current of fresh air was blowing, and widened the passage during several days of work. When it was finally wide enough to allow their son Michel, aged 12, to enter, he went in and did a quick reconnaissance. After only a few minutes he returned with the discovery of a new section of the cave. The new section was very interesting and the cavers who explored it, became aware of the tourist potential, but also of the fragility of the so far undisturbed section. As a result protective measures were put in place immediately.

The cave is located on state property and is represented by the Office National des Forêts. On 20 April 1966, the Syndicat d'Initiative de Quillan and the Office National des Forêts signed a contract which allowed the development and exploitation of the cave by Jean Bataillou and Jacques Chapert. The cave was developed for semi-wild tours and opened to the public in 1967. The cave trekking tours were made in small groups and the participants were introduced to the underground world and its protection. Some 300 people visited the cave yearly. The operator changed during the decades, and since 1998 it is operated by Philippe Moréno.

Aguzou cave is famous for its speleothems, which are all kinds of calcite crystals and excentriques, but also a high amount of aragonite. The lower nucleation energy favours the appearance of aragonite seeds, while the crystal growth processes favour the development of calcite, which becomes dominant. A high concentration of magnesium ions in the water inhibits the crystallisation of calcite. Aguzou is located in dolomitic limestones and dolomite.

The cave is also knwon for the endemic species Onychiurus cf. aguzouensis, which was discovered in 1978 by the biospeleologist Louis Deharveng. It is home to two species of bats, Rhinolophus hipposideros and Rhinolophus ferrumequinum. It also conatains numerous species of arthropods like millipedes and spiders. It contains the grashopper Dolichopoda linderi and the beetles Speonomus curvipes amd Speonomus chardoni. Also four species of collembola were found. However, the number of species and individuals is rather low, compared to other caves in the Ariège. It is a result of the lack of vegetation outside the cave, which causes a lack of organic matter on which most animals feed in the cave.