If you ask around about the most well-known cave in the ‘Lot & Dordogne’-region, a lot of people would give the ‘Lascaux II’-cave as an answer. I’ve never seen it – but Christophe has, I think – but if you’d ask the same question to me, I would answer the ‘Gouffre de Padirac’ without any hesitation.

Gouffre de Padirac lies 13 km north of Gramat in Quercy. The cave was discovered in 1889 by accident. The entire roof of one of the cave halls collapsed, revealing the other corridors and halls. This also the reason they call it a ‘Gouffre’, chasm in English, and not a cave.

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Via a steel staircase – or a lift, if you aren’t not all that adventurous – you walk/are transported to the bottom of the gouffre. Once down you will be guided through a long corridor in the cave itself to a departure point for boats, where you enter a small boat – only 10 people allowed per boat – that will carry you deep inside the cave. Only 30 people are allowed into the cave at once. There is a tour every 20 minutes.

It gets a little narrow at some point, so if you don’t like cramped spaces, this is not a tour I would recommend you to take. I myself am a little bit claustrophobic, but closing my eyes and concentrating on my breathing did the trick, so don’t let it stop you.

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Photo courtesy of: Gouffre de Padirac

After fifteen minutes of sailing, you make port deep inside the cave, where a guided tour leads you through all of the accessible halls it has to offer. The tour guide was very well informed, so the tour definitely is worth your while!

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Photo courtesy of: Gouffre de Padirac

Insider Tip: Book your tickets in advance, to avoid long waiting lines. Book the earliest tour possible, because it’s the most quiet tour available. You are the only ones in the cave at that time. Nothing beats complete silence & darkness, with only dripping water disturbing this ultimate moment of peace ..

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These people clearly didn’t get the news in time ..

More about ‘Gouffre de Padirac’:

  • Adress: Le Gouffre, 46500 Padirac
  • Price & reservation: Around 10 euros for a tour. Discounts possible. Book here.
  • Opening Hours: Depends on the season. Click here for more details. In high season, opening hours from 8 ’till 20 o’clock. Closed in winter
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