The Gouffre de Padirac near Rocamadour, a Great Tourist Site in Midi-Pyrénées, is world famous. This swallow hole 32 metres across will swallow up anything around it, including the daylight! It is said that the Devil created Padirac, and it's almost easier to believe that legend than your own eyes in the Great Dome, with its 94-metre-high arched ceiling and 'hanging' upper lake.
Not far from there, in the Dordogne Valley, a Great Tourist Site in Midi-Pyrénées, the Lacave Caves are also one of the most important examples of our underground natural heritage. The caves contain a fascinating maze of lakes and concretions leading to the treasure of Lacave, the Hall of Wonders, where under invisible ultraviolet light the living concretions light up with natural luminescence.
In the belly of the mountain
In the far south of the region, the Pyrenees are the other underground destination to be explored.
The Gouffre d'Esparros (Hautes Pyrénées) is an immense cave over 110 metres deep that was discovered by Norbert Casteret, the great French caver who was born in Toulouse. Today there is a sound and light show there that tells the story of how this swallow hole was formed and shows off its amazing collection of curtain concretions, gypsum needles and mass of aragonite formations.
In Ariège, the Lombrives Cave reveals a magnificent underground world. Long galleries lined with splendid concretions with names such as 'the mammoth', 'the sorceress' and 'the tomb of Pyrene, associated with legends and mysteries, are a feature of these caves.
Lastly, treat yourself to a boat trip 50 metres underground on the black waters of the Labouiche river. Through great halls and along tunnels, from the Salette waterfall to the spectacular Torrent Falls, you follow the river's varied route for nearly 2 km.