Grotte du Sergent

Useful Information

Location: 34150 Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert.
Between Montpellier and Béziers. A 750 exit 59 Gignac, D32 to Aniane, D27 to Saint-Jean-de-Fos, D4 to Saint-Guilhem le Désert. Follow D4 for 1.5 km to dam, right befor turn left on single lane gravel road to parking lot Combe Malafosse. 1 km 15 minutes walk.
(43.752360, 3.555374)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave TopicSacrifice Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=3,600 m, VR=129 m, A=190 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Daniel Caumont (1986): La Grotte du Sergent, CLPA, Explokarst, 79 pp. Français - French online
Address: Grotte du Sergent, 34150 Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert.
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.


05-JUL-1889 explored by E.A. Martel and surveyed the cave.
12-APR-1909 explored by the cave biologists René Jeannel and E. Racotvitza.
27-DEC-1913 explored by the cave biologists René Jeannel and E. Racotvitza.
1942 exploration restarted by the CAF.
1949 members of the CAF under the leadership of Jean Coudenc discover new passages.
1980s during a decade of exploration the cave length rises to 3,356 m.


The Grotte du Sergent (Sergeant's Cave) is located above the Gorges de l'Hérault, north of the village Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. According to legend it was named after an old soldier who retired at the end of the Napoleonic campaigns and lived in the cave to the end of his days. More likely is that the name originates from the word sourgent or sourgene, based on the Latin word Surgere which translates to rise. Obviously it is due to the fact that the cave entrance is reactivated as a spring during rainy weather.

It is not developed, but it is signposted and visited by many people, and it is quite harmless, so it became a sacrifice cave. The cave is reached on a hiking trail which is not very comfortable, it requires to walk through the dry riverbed, through dense shrubs, and right before the cave entrance there is an easy climb. In a way these are difficulties similar to the cave visit, so it should keep people out of the cave who are not able to navigate it safely. The tour is horizontal and has no difficult parts, but at some point crawling is necessary. While climbing gear is not required, otherwise full caving gear is recommended.

The cave has a main passage which is rather easy to visit for about 300 to 400 m. The final part is more difficult, and the passage ends at a sump some 570 m from the entrance. This main passage has a sort of footpath 41and is normally high enough to walk upright. This is the sacrifice cave part. The rest is far more dangerous and should be avoided.

The cave was first explored by E.A. Martel in 1889 who surveyed 1,100 m of galleries. He also speculated about the hydrogeological connections of this cave and other caves and springs in the area. The cave live was explored by the cave biologists René Jeannel and Emil Racotvitza. They returned four years later for more. There was a long gap until the CAF continue explorations in 1942. The reason was the final sump, and in the 1940s there were great summer droughts which allowed the exploration of otherwise water-filled sections. After almost a decade of research the cave reached a surveyed length of 2,700 m. Alex Bournier crossed the siphon of the Great North Lake without diving gear. During the 1950s and 1960s several dye tracing experiments were made, and they proved that the cave was draining to the Hérault gorge, to the Cabrier spring. Another phase of exploration started in 1980, and the length was increased to 3,356 m. This included several diving attempts in various sumps.