|Open:||Jun 9-12 14-18, Jul 8:30-12 14-18:30, Aug 8-19, Sep-Oct 9-12 14-18|
|Classification:||Karst cave, vertical cave.|
E-A Martel (1925):
Padirac, Historique & Description Sommaires.
32 pp, illus., SB,
Martel describes his early explorations.
|Address:||Gouffre de Padirac, F-46500 Padirac. Tel: +33-565336456, Fax: +33-565337186|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1865||Count Murat andm. de Salvagnac climbed down the entrance shaft, maybe because of a bet.|
|9 to 11-JUL-1889||Edouard Alfred Martel, G. Gaupillat, Louis Armand, and E. Foulquiers make the first expedition into the cave.|
|9 to 10-SEP-1890||second expedition by Martel discovers the Dome.|
|1898||opened to the public, first show cave in France.|
The entrance to the Gouffre de Padirac is a deep shaft with a depth of 75 meters and a diameter of 33 meters. This shaft opens naturally to the surface of the Causses de Gramat and is therefore known for a very long time, probably since the 13th century. It gave the cave its name, gouffre means deep hole or bottomless pit in French.
The pit was already a famous tourist destination in the 19th century, when E. A. Martel (1859-1938) first came to this cave in 1889. He made a first expedition and discovered the cave below the pit and the cave river. One year later, on a second expedition he discovered what is now called the Salle du grand Dôme. The exploration did not stop after Martel, and so today more than 20 kilometers of cave river have been discovered and surveyed.
The visit of this cave is rather impressive, because of the depth. There is a tower built of steel inside the pit. 455 steps or two elevaters take the visitors down into the cave and back to the surface. However, from the bottom of the abyss in 75m there is a further descend to the cave river in more than 100m below gound. The trip is now continued in boats and finally reaches the Salle du grand Dôme, which is 94m high. The Salle des Grands Gours, as the name says, contains enormous rimstone pools, which are called gours in French. The most impressive speleothems are a 40m high stalagmite and a 25m long and 4m thick stalactite.