Av. Charles de Gaulle 6, 5150 Floreffe.
All year by appointment.
Adults EUR 8.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 7.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||L=800 m, Max=15. V=7,000/a |
|Address:||Grottes de Floreffe, Nadia Vliegen and Jean-Marie Stroobants, Av. Charles de Gaulle 6, 5150 Floreffe, Tel: +32-81-451231, Tel: +32-496-90-82-75. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1860||cave discovered during the construction of the Château des Grottes.|
|1874||first excavations under the direction of the owner Émile Henkinbrant.|
|1978||show cave closed.|
|1998||domain bought by sprl Inventif to open an outdoor centre.|
|2000||show cave reopened.|
The Grottes de Floreffe (Caves of Floreffe) are located at the village Floreffe, hence the name. They are below a castle, which is called Château des Grottes for obvious reasons. It was built in 1860 by the architect and painter Émile Henkinbrant in the neo-medieval style which was fashionable at the time. A bevelled plinth from the 16th century nearby was raised by two levels around 1894 to create a fake ruin. But when the workers dug the foundation pit for the castle, the cave was discovered. The cave entrance was integrated into the building. Today, in the massive wall of the basement, there is a neo-medieval gate, in keeping with the style of the building, a round arch with a wrought iron door. A high vaulted passage leads through the basement to the cave. The entrance to the castle is on the other side one level higher in the ground floor.
The cave was first called Grottes préhistoriques (Prehistoric Caves) because of the palaeontological and archaeological remains that were discovered there. In 1874 the owner Émile Henkinbrant planned to build a cellar for his wines, at the bottom of the first part of the cave. So he discovered formerly unknown parts of the cave which obviously contained remains from the Neolithic. So the first excavations took place under the direction of the owner Émile Henkinbrant who was assisted by the engineer Pardon. On 06-APR-1875 Pardon reported to the Cercle Archéologique et Paléontologique de Charlero. Many objects discovered on the property and in the caves are preserved at the département de la Belgique Ancienne (Department of Ancient Belgium) of the Musées Royaux ďArt et d'Histoire (Royal Museums of Art and History) in Brussels. The bones of animals were found in the cave sediments, most from cave bears (Ursus spelaeus). The cave was subsequently opened to the public and a small exhibition with some findings was created in the cave entrance. As the iron bar gate allows cold air into the cave, the entrance section is sometimes in winter cold enough for the forming of ice and there are numerous ice stalagmites on the floor.
This area south of Floreffe consists of dolomitic limestone. It is heavily karstified, draining underground to the nearby river Sambre, which is a tributary of the Meuse, it meets the Meuse in the city Namur. The limestone was of great economic importance as it was needed for numerous things like burning it for cement and for white paint. And so numerous quarries were operated along the valley, like the Carrière Bajart or the Carrière Sprimont. During the quarrying frequenly caves were discovered, for example the Trou de l'ancienne Carrière Bajart or the Grotte de Sprimont. The Carrière du Flato down the road and the Carrière de Floreffe, right behind the Château des Grottes, both have a lake inside which formed after the quarries were closed. The lake in Carrière du Flato is used for diving.
The area belongs to the Condroz, an area with plateaus covered by a thick layer of Upper Devonian sandstone. The valley have cut into this sandstone reaching Dinantian or Lower Carboniferous limestone. The local limestone is such a valley, a strip of limestone approximately 1 km wide.
The operators of the cave offer a wide range of activities beneath the normal cave tour. There is cave trekking in the Trou du Diable (Devil's Hole) which starts with abseiling down the 30 m deep pothole. There is also a via ferrata and a tree climbing course, and a field with a fire place which is used for camping. It's also possible to stay at the castle overnight for up to 35 people. For birthday parties, school groups and other occasions various role playing activities are offered, like the Les chevaliers et les lutins des Grottes (Knights and Goblins of the Caves). However, all activities are only with reservation, unfortunately the cave has no regular open hours at all. As far as we understand there no minimum group size for a reservation though.