Caving in the Dordogne

Groléjac
Caving in the Dordogne

We don't tell you anything, Périgord is a real Gruyère... caves, shelters under rocks, troglodytes, chasms and galleries. Would there be as much to explore outside as under our feet? To convince yourself of this, try the experience of caving in the Dordogne. Accompanied and supervised by a guide, professional instructor and graduate (never alone!), you will encounter underground marvels. An unusual experience that will amaze you!

Photos and video of the report © Guide du Périgord



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Where to go caving in the Dordogne?

The Dordogne counts more than 8900 caves , discovered and explored. This is not a joke ! There are decorated caves (like Lascaux ), caves with concretions (like the Gouffre de Proumeyssac ), there are caves open to the public (some are tourist sites) and others, the majority, which are private, closed and unsecured. For a cave to be open to speleology and I am talking here about the speleological experience in its tourist, amateur practice, it must be secure and equipped. There are caving clubs in the Dordogne, but this is another practice, reserved for speleologists. On holiday in the Dordogne, you can go caving, with family or friends . Come and spend a few hours underground, to appreciate this world of silence (or not!) at 13 degrees all year round (top in winter, it's very hot!).


To go further, read our article on the Caves to visit (tourist sites) of Périgord, we also have a complementary article on the chasms, rock shelters and troglodyte villages. Here you are full of interesting information to make in-depth studies of the Périgord subsoil and its uses through time and History!


Caving in the Dordogne Group
Souvenir photo in the most spacious room of the cave


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Introduction to caving in the Dordogne

What an unusual activity ! Speleology in the Dordogne is a completely fun practice, you leave accompanied and supervised by a qualified instructor and accustomed to taking with him all types of public , even the youngest. Today, we leave with Frédérick Viales, certified professional and trainer, who for more than 30 years, accompanies groups to make initiations to climbing and caving.


Caving in the Dordogne entrance to the cave
Frédérick Viales (right) has been accompanying groups for 30 years

All the equipment is provided, just come with comfortable clothes (to contort quietly) and sneakers that fear nothing. No tap shoes, no heels, soft sneakers are the most suitable. You will put on a wetsuit, wear a helmet (not to be removed under any circumstances) with a headlamp. Don't forget the camera and let's go!


There are about ten caves to explore with the public in the Dordogne. To do this, you must always go through a professional, do not rush into the first cavity you come across, it could be very dangerous because the nature of the rock in Périgord is sometimes crumbly and not very stable.


Caving in the Dordogne Caving in the Dordogne
The material is provided by the supervisor
Caving in the Dordogne
Bring fearless sneakers!


For this report, we explored a private cave near Groléjac towards Sarladais. After having equipped ourselves like adventurers worthy of a Jules Verne (the children were jubilant), we walked 5 minutes to look for the entrance to the cave. The pedagogy begins right here since Frédérick invites the children to observe the landscape to find the entrance to the abyss.


Caving in the Dordogne
An approach walk where we look together for the entrance to the cave

After a few safety instructions, the door opens into darkness. The first apprehensions are quickly dissipated by the excitement and the emulation of the small group of friends and girlfriends. Let's be honest right away, the first 5 meters there are spiders, so move quickly so you don't see them!! Our headlamp has 2 positions: for walking and seeing, for observing and talking without blinding yourself. We first walk aloud to give ourselves courage, then we lower the tone (we TRY to make the children whisper…). In this semi-darkness, the senses are heightened and the pupil adapts quickly to reveal the concretions, the particles in suspension... The floor of our cave is soft, lined with ocher sand (silt), it is very pleasant and painless for elbows, knees. The exploration is also done in an educational way, we learn with Fred to detect the vein of the rock, we understand how the cave was formed, thanks to thousands, millions of years!


Caving in the Dordogne

We will walk for 2 hours (it depends on the sessions, some explorations are shorter) and go from gallery to gallery. It's not a linear path, we seek, we try an arm of the gallery, then another, we turn back... Sometimes we walk in the middle of a kind of narrow crevasse, sometimes we have to slide, or crawl, move forward 4 legs, head or feet forward. It 's diverse, fun. We did not see our 2 hours pass, the children were in awe of the beauty of this unique, unique environment.


Caving in the Dordogne bat Caving in the Dordogne
The only bat we saw was far away and asleep, a pipistrelle (in the orange circle)
Caving in the Dordogne Caving in the Dordogne
To be touched very gently and in moderation, so that everyone can enjoy it for a long time!
Caving in the Dordogne formation of stalagmites
In the dry caves, we still admire the formation of stalactites, impressive!

At the end of the exploration, before going out, we gather in a circle and we are silent... We turn off the lights... Take advantage of these suspended moments, where the true silence is heard... Never in our lives, have we the opportunity to listen to the absence of noise! We are also going to keep the lights off to go out, very gently thanks to our senses...


Thanks to David Monribot, Explo Nature Evasion, multisport guide in the Dordogne, for organizing this day. Frédérick Viales, is at your disposal for other adventures underground and on the cliffs, in his capacity as a climbing trainer.


Caving graffiti in the Dordogne
Moving graffiti from 1940, by the inventors of the cave (who discovered it)
Caving in the Dordogne Caving in the Dordogne
Caving is a cooperative activity



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