Grotte de Lastournelle


Useful Information

Location: Sainte Colombe de Villeneuve, Lot-et-Garonne, Nouvelle Aquitaine.
From Villeneuve-sur-Lot D119 south west to Bourg de Ladodie, turn left to La Tonnielle.
(44.3416, 0.6574)
Open: APR daily 11, 14:30, 15:30.
MAY to JUN daily 15:30, 16:30.
JUL to 10-JUL daily 11, 12, 14, 15, 16.
11-JUL to 20-AUG daily 10-18.
21-AUG to AUG dialy 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17.
SEP daily 11, 14, 15:30.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 7.50, Children (4-14) EUR 5.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 6.50, Children (4-14) EUR 4.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Miocene limstones of the ower Aquitanian
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=300 m, A=185 m asl, T=14 °C. V=9,000/a [2016]
Guided tours: D=45 min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Grotte de Lastournelle, 1851 Route des Grottes de Lastournelles, 47300 Sainte-Colombe-de-Villeneuve, Tel: +33-553-400809, Cell: Tel: +33-663-889060. 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.

History

1878 cave discovered by the farmer who dug a well to find water, 64 m of the passage explored.
11-SEP-1901 explored by Malbec.
13-OCT-1901 explored by Malbec.
1953 farm purchased by Joseph Brys.
1955 alternative entrance discovered by Maria and Joseph Brys.
1957 cave opened to the public by Joseph Brys.

Description

Grotte de Lastournelle (Lastournelle Cave) is located on a farm in the Pays de Serres region of Lot-et-Garonne. The cave was discovered when the farmer dug a well to find water in 1878. He discovered a huge cave passage, but unfortunately no water. In 1953 the farm was sold, the new owner Joseph Brys was from Pas-de-Calais, in the Normandie at the channel to England. Maria and Joseph Brys discovered in 1955 by chance a natural entrance. They were surprised by a thunderstorm and took refuge in a rocky depression when they felt a weak current of damp air through the rocks. Joseph Brys cleared this entrance, explored the cave with friends and decided to open it to the public. He did all the development work himself, with helpf from friends and neighbours, and opened the cave in 1957 to the public. Since then the cave is owned by the same family. Today it is operated by his granddaughter Sylvie Crozat.

The cave is more or less a single passage, which follows two main directions, which are perpendicular. The reason are obviously cracks in the limestone in north-south and est-west direction, along which the water was entering and started to form the cave. At the end of the passage there is an access to the lower level, which is the level of the cave river. It is shorter than the upper level and exploration ends at a sump. The passage is typically several meters wide and up to seven meters high, but the cave has no big chambers. Seven sections which are wider than average were nevertheless dubbed chambers and make the stops on the cave tour.

The trails were made in the 1950s, and they are still as they were made. The operators have actively chosen to conserve the cave in a state as natural as possible, and not to lay cement floors. In other words: they are not always level and there might be puddles of water and mud on the trails, so good walking shoes are a must. On the other hand, this gives the cave more authenticity. But parents with small children have a problem, if children alternate between walking and being carried, they get dirty shoes when walking and when carried the clothes of the parents get dirty. The tours are held in French, but if foreigners are on the tour the guide will make a bilingual tour with French and English. Only in Summer, when the tours are very full, it might be too time consuming, so foreigners get handouts with the explanations instead. It is also possible to download an audioguide in English and Spanish from the website for free.

The well, through which it was originally discovered, is far too narrow to offer comfortable access. The cave was developed from the new entrance and is more or less level. But there is only one entrance, so the group has to turn around at the end of the tour and return on the same trail. To make the tours more interesting there are two special tours. On one tour the group enters the cave with handheld torches and the cave light system out. When the end is reached, the light is turned on and the way back is with electric light on. This kind of tours is offered at 11 and 12 o'clock, the morning tours, the afternoon tours are regular tours with lights on. There is also a third type of tour where the full tour is done with handheld lamps, they are offered only at certain dates after appointment. Even more special tours are offered after appointment, like Balade fantastique with an elf telling stories, tales, and singing songs, or the Les Mystères de la Terre which is guided by Professor Spéléodingo who will make chemical, sensory and visual experiments.

The cave is open during the All Saints school holidays and the winter school holidays, but with special themed tours. Obviously a great fun for children of all ages. There is a cafe with bistro offering also some food. A children playground offers a lot of fun for small children while waiting.