Grotte des Laveuses

Useful Information

Location: Royat, 35 Avenue de la Vallée
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyBlister cave Speleologyerosional cave SubterraneaWater Supply
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=30 m, W=10 m, H=3 m.
Guided tours:
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A flow of warm water emerges from this cave. It has been known since Roman times and the entrance has been enlarged over the centuries. The women from the town no longer wash their clothes here.

Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.

As the name Grotte des Laveuses (Cave of the Washing Ladies) says, this cave contains a spring which was used for washing clothes. Later the water was collected, and wash basins were built, so the washing women could wash more easily. The volcanically heated water was a special comfort in times before electricity and washing machines. There is a cliff face below the church of Royat, the warm spring in the cave is located at the foot It may be reached from the Avenue de la Vallée. Today the cave is closed by a fence, and because of the danger of rockfall it is not allowed to enter. However, the cave is so small it can be seen completely from the fence.

The cliff is the remains of a lava flow, basaltic lava which is forming a thick layer. When the lava stream covered the ground, it covered a wetland or stream. The water vaporizeed, the steam was enclosed by the basaltic lave. When the lava hardened the steam had caused a blister cave. But this was only the starting point of the cave today. The river Tiretaine caused the formation of the cliff, by cutting into the rock. The erosion of the river also worked on the cave and enlarged it. And the spring inside also caused some erosion.