Grotte de la Devèze

Musée Français de la Spéléologie - Grotte de la Fileuse de Verre


Useful Information

Location: Courniou les Grottes, near Saint-Pons.
E80 exit Vendres/Béziers, D64 north, then N112 for 55km. In the village at the abandoned railway station.
(43°28'26.27"N, 2°42'50.21"E)
Open: APR to mid-JUN Sat, Sun, Hol 11:30, 14, 16.
Mid-JUN to JUN daily 11:30, 14, 16.
JUL to AUG daily 11-18, tour every 30 minutes.
SEP to mid-SEP daily 11:30, 14, 16.
Mid-SEP to SEP Sat, Sun, Hol 11:30, 14, 16.
[2020]
Fee: Cave with Museum: Adults EUR 9.50, Children (6-12) EUR 6, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 8.
Museum: Adults EUR 3, Children (0-5) free.
[2020]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. Marble.
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=3,200m, T=12°C.
Guided tours: VR=60m, D=60min. V=10,586/a [2008]
Photography: allowed without flash
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Grotte de la Devèze, Esplanade de la gare, 34220 Courniou les Grottes, Tel: +33-467-970324, Fax: +33-467-973348. E-mail:
Mairie, 34220 Courniou les Grottes, Tel: +33-467-970385.
Joëlle et Patrick Pallu, 8, rue Camille Robert, 77700 Coupvray, Tel: +33-609-346193, Tel: +33-603-165639.
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

1886 Bédarieux/Mazamet railroad built, cave discovered.
09-JAN-1893 explored by E.A. Martel, Bourguet and Armand.
1928 intensive exploration by M. Milhaud and his team.
1930 Milhaud discovers the upper level.
1932-1933 developed as a show cave by the Spéléo-Club de la Montagne Noire et de l'Espinouse.
1939 equipped with electric light.
1939 inauguration by the famous French speleologist Norbert Casteret.
1971 speleologic museum founded at Gagny (Seine-Saint-Denis).

Description

The Grotte de la Devèze is famous for its extraordinary speleothems, fragile needles, transparent or of white colour consisting of calcite and aragonite. This is why the cave is also called le palais de la fileuse de verre (the palace of the glass spinner). The most magnificent speleothems can be seen in the Salle G. Milhaud, almost at the end of the tour. The tour starts at the middle level and ends at the upper level. During the one hour tour the visitors ascend 60m on stone steps.

A few years ago the cave was renamed the Grotte de la Fileuse de Verre (Cave of the Glass Spinner). It seems to be derived from the name Palace of the Glass Spinner which was given to the group of most translucent speleothems in the upper layer. For some reason the museum is not advertised any more, but it seems it still exists and is accessible with a cave visit. Also there is a new 3D presentation of the show cave and various other caves in the area. This allows a cave visit for people which are not able to walk the 60m ascend, and a visit of otherwise closed caves. We are not aware why this is not mentioned on the homepage (which is especially uninformative). We guess its just incompetence on the side of the web site creator.

The cave was discovered during the construction of the Bédarieux-Mazamet railroad in 1886-87. This original entrance is today a circular hole in the northeast corner of the railway station, seven meters above the yard. Rail workers first poked through the cave, devastating the concretions. But the first real exploration was carried out by ExplainE. A. Martel, Bourguet and Armand in 1893. Bourguet drew the first map of the cave with a vertical cross-section the same evening. Then the cave was forgotten until M. Milhaud and his team started the exploration in 1928. They discovered the upper level with its beautiful concretions in 1930. Subsequently the cave was developed as a show cave by the Spéléo-Club de la Montagne Noire et de l'Espinouse, cavers from Mazamet and nearby Saint Pons. Soon after it was equipped with electric light, and then officially opened by the famous French speleologist ExplainNorbert Casteret.

The yard of the now abandoned railway station is also the location of the Musée Français de la Spéléologie (French Speleological Museum). Although there is no offical ranking of speleological museums, they claim to have the National museum. Anyway, this museum is rather big and well done, it is officially approved and controlled by the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris (Natural History Museum of Paris) and supported by the Fédération Française de Spéléologie (French Speleological Society) and the Parc Régional du Haut-Languedoc (Regional Park of the Haut-Languedoc). The museum is maintained by the speleologists Joëlle and Patrick Pallu. It was originally created by the Équipe Spéléo Centre-Terre in 1971 at Gagny (Seine-Saint-Denis).

The exhibits include the most important collection of documents, devices and equipment from the heyday of French speleology. It was supported by ExplainNorbert Casteret, Pierre Chevalier, ExplainHaroun Tazieff, Guy De Lavaur, Bernard Geze, and the widow of ExplainRobert de Joly. The topics of the exhibition are the history of caving, great cavers, geology, speleobiology, cave protection and local caving.