Visit Le Gouffre de Padirac
Descend into a spellbinding subterranean world in Lot, southern France
Attracting more than 350,000 visitors each year, Le Gouffre de
Padirac is one of the most visited attractions in southern France.
Situated near the village of Padirac at the heart of the Quercy
region, Le Gouffre de Padirac is a spectacular natural phenomenon;
a vast complex of underground cave systems, accessed by descending
a chasm seventy-five metres deep.
According to local legend, this vast chasm - it has a diameter of almost thirty-five metres - was created by the Devil, who challenged Saint Martin to leap across it in order to save the souls of peasants sentenced to damnation. Naturally, Saint Martin triumphed.
In fact, Le Gouffre de Padirac was first explored in 1889 by lawyer and explorer Édouard-Alfred Martel, who quickly saw the cave system's potential as a public attraction. Funded by brewing entrepreneur George Beamish, Martel was able to invite the caves' first visitors in 1898.
More than a century later, Le Gouffre de Padirac is considered one of the world's foremost underground attractions. The spectacular initial chasm can be descended either by stairs or by lift. A gondola ride along a tranquil subterranean river then transports visitors deeper into the cave system where the beautiful rock formations within further chambers can be explored.
In an area of France renowned for its caves, visiting Le Gouffre de Padirac stands out as a truly unique and unforgettable experience.