Prehistoric caves, abysses and underground rivers in Occitania | Tourism in Occitania

Tourism in Occitania: Holidays in the South of France

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Caves and abysses
The wide-open spaces are also underground

There is a parallel world beneath your feet in Occitania! This is the richest region for painted caves, vast abysses and underground rivers.

Our mountains, gorges and limestone plateaus are a gift from nature, providing 40 underground areas for you to explore. They can be seen with their exceptional decoration of stalactites or cave paintings.

See all the caves and abysses

Nestploria, grottes de Gargas dans les Hautes-Pyrénées
Nestploria, grottes de Gargas dans les Hautes-Pyrénées


To understand and enjoy your experience underground, visit the information areas next to the caves.

You can find enlightenment, for example, with a visit to Nestploria (Gargas Cave), the Prehistoric Park in Tarascon-sur-Ariège (Niaux Cave), the digital area of the Mas d’Azil Cave, or the Pech Merle Prehistoric Centre.

Well worth a visit

Part of the Mas d’Azil Cave (Ariège) is a natural tunnel running for 420 m and through which the D 119 passes. This is the only cave in Europe with a road for cars running through it.

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Parc de la Préhistoire en Ariège
Parc de la Préhistoire en Ariège


Big thrills

In these deep caverns you can feel a presence emerging from the depths of time. On the cave walls, you can look out for the miraculous appearance of paintings.

The Ariège Pyrenees are an international reference for cave paintings. Here you can visit Niaux, the biggest painted cave in Europe, along with Lascaux, or the vast Mas d'Azil cave that gave its name to the Azilian civilisation.

Near Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, also in the Pyrenées, the Gargas caves will arouse your curiosity with their human handprints.

Gouffre de Cabrespine dans l'Aude
Gouffre de Cabrespine dans l'Aude


Taking the plunge

Wonderful concretions, lighting effects and glass walkways help make our abysses truly exceptional sites. Worth visiting at the southern tip of the Massif Central: the Dargilan cave, the Cocalière cave, as well as the Clamouse cave in the Hérault gorges.

Near Carcassonne, the gigantic Cabrespine abyss will set the heart racing!

In the Pyrenees, schedule a visit to the "underground Versailles" of the Grandes Canalettes. Then take refuge in the coolness of the magnificent Esparros cave discovered by Norbert Casteret.

Useful information

Summer and winter, the temperature in the abysses is between 13 and 16°C. Take some warm clothes with long sleeves (and even waterproof clothing) and good walking shoes.

Don't miss

A boat trip 103 m underground is one of the great attractions of the famous Padirac cave. The cave is near Rocamadour and is the number one underground site in France.

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Grotte de Labeil dans l'Hérault


Sailing away

On the slopes of Larzac, the Labeil cave will lead you down to the underground river with its captivating waters lit up in the darkness.

In the Pyrenees, on the road to the Pic du Midi, you can visit the grandiose world of the Médous caves by boat. A navigable underground river, the longest in Europe, is also to be seen 50 m underground in the Labouiche cave.


There is plenty happening down there! In the Grandes Canalettes cave, Halloween is celebrated at the end of October and visitors come to enjoy the sound and light show in July / August. In the Lombrives cave, you can listen to classical music concerts. In the Padirac cave, there is a chocolate egg hunt at Easter.

Your next visit: the Cocalière cave

This is one of the leading trio of the most beautiful caves in France: visit the Cocalière cave (Gard) with its magnificent concretions. You can even go on a caving trek (accessible to visitors aged 12 or over).

Video 0:30 © Gard Tourisme.

With a disability

The Salamandre cave (Gard) has a panoramic viewpoint providing a great panorama over the depths below: it is accessible in a wheelchair.

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Gouffre de Padirac
Gouffre de Padirac
Grotte du Pech Merle
Grotte du Pech Merle
Gouffre de Cabrespine
Gouffre de Cabrespine
Grotte de la Salamandre
Grotte de la Salamandre

Our selection

Natural heritage

Grotte de la Cocalière


Guided tour of one of the most beautiful caves in France. Return by small train.

Cultural heritage


Cultural heritage

Gouffre de Padirac

Cultural leisure


How to get there
  • By car: Occitania has a large number of motorways (A9, A20, A61, A75, etc.).
  • By plane: the region has several airports, including the international airports of Toulouse, Montpellier and Lourdes.
  • By train: the region is accessible from all the major cities of France and the European capitals.

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