Visit the magnificent caves of Ardeche

Head beneath the surface of Ardeche to a wild and unspoilt environment where millions of years unfold before your eyes, revealing the geological history that has created the region’s green and varied landscape.    Millions of years ago, Ardeche was a shallow seabed, eroded over a succession of geological eras to form underground caverns known as grottes and avens where extraordinary concretions have formed over millennia. 

Used by our ancestors as places to live, shelter or express their creativity, some of these caves are open to the public.  Most famous of all, the Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc – also known as Grotte Chauvet – is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  The original site is only open to specialist researchers, but the general public can live an authentic underground experience inside an exact replica above ground, Chauvet 2 – Ardeche. This mysterious underground world beneath Ardeche is open throughout the year.  Discover geological wonders that evolve constantly, rare wild creatures, underground rivers and hidden archaeological remains.  Caving in Ardeche is an experience packed with unexpected reminders of millennia gone by. 

Explore the depths of Ardeche

The region is renowned for the quality of its natural cavities.  The rocky interiors of caves, avens and chasms are all perfect for underground adventures with family or friends.   Rich in stalagmites, stalactites and other concretions, they offer magnificent underground landscapes that you will not find anywhere else.  So do not miss the chance to visit these natural ‘cathedrals’ deep beneath the surface of Ardeche. 


Did you know?

In caving terms, a grotte – like a cavern – has an entrance in a vertical wall whilst an aven is a chasm that opens up in the ground.

The mysteries of the subterranean world provide cool-air experiences far below the surface of the earth.

Madeleine Cave

The caves in Ardeche

Seven caves have been adapted to welcome visitors keen to experience this captivating environment in complete safety.  Head to the Grand Site de France of the Aven d’Orgnac; the Madeleine cave at Saint-Remèze; the caves at Soyons, La Forestière and Saint-Marcel d’Ardeche; the Marzal aven at Saint-Remèze; and the Grotte Chauvet 2 – Ardeche at Vallon-Pont-d’Arc.   Each one of these natural cavities is an important part of Ardeche’s natural heritage.  To appreciate fully the ancient beauty of each site, join a guided visit or ask about special events for children.  

Stand in complete darkness

Enjoy a unique sensory experience deep underground with one of Ardeche’s many specialist caving guides.  Equipped with overalls, helmets and harness, you will explore narrow passages and huge caverns, using climbing ropes to get close to spectacular stalagmites and stalactites.  An overnight tent, 120 metres above the ground, will provide an unforgettable experience after a fun evening around a traditional Savoyard fondue.  A unique escape from the everyday through immersion in a hidden world that intensifies every sound and sensation. 

Group in the Saint-Marcel cave, for an underground hike
Underground wine tasting, at the Aven d'Organc "Grand Site"

Underground wine tasting

Look closely, inhale the aroma, and then taste a range of wines in this unique experience deep in the Grand Site de France of the Aven d’Orgnac.  You will walk down 220 steps into partial darkness and total silence that will both awaken and sharpen your senses.  Only the sound of popping corks will disturb the tranquillity of this magical visit.   Learn the art of wine tasting with expert guides and find out about vintages that age beneath the surface of the earth. 

Prepare and reserve your holiday

What should I wear to visit a cave?

The temperature inside the caves averages 12 degrees throughout the year, so wear a sweater or light jacket with sturdy flat shoes.

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