Courniou les Grottes, near Saint-Pons.
E80 exit Vendres/Béziers, D64 north, then N112 for 55 km. In the village at the abandoned railway station.
APR to mid-JUN Sat, Sun, Hol 11:30, 14, 16.
Mid-JUN to JUN daily 11:30, 14, 16.
JUL to AUG daily 11-18, tour every 30 minutes.
SEP to mid-SEP daily 11:30, 14, 16.
Mid-SEP to SEP Sat, Sun, Hol 11:30, 14, 16.
Cave with Museum:
Adults EUR 9.50, Children (6-12) EUR 6, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 8.
Museum: Adults EUR 3, Children (0-5) free.
|Classification:||Karst cave. Marble.|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Dimension:||L=3,200 m, T=12 °C.|
|Guided tours:||VR=60 m, D=60 min. V=10,586/a |
|Photography:||allowed without flash|
Grotte de la Devèze, Esplanade de la gare, 34220 Courniou les Grottes, Tel: +33-467-970324, Fax: +33-467-973348.
Mairie, 34220 Courniou les Grottes, Tel: +33-467-970385.
Joëlle et Patrick Pallu, 8, rue Camille Robert, 77700 Coupvray, Tel: +33-609-346193, Tel: +33-603-165639.
|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.
|1886||Bédarieux/Mazamet railroad built, cave discovered.|
|09-JAN-1893||explored by E.A. Martel, Bourguet and Armand.|
|1928||intensive exploration by M. Milhaud and his team.|
|1930||Milhaud discovers the upper level.|
|1932-1933||developed as a show cave by the Spéléo-Club de la Montagne Noire et de l'Espinouse.|
|1939||equipped with electric light.|
|1939||inauguration by the famous French speleologist Norbert Casteret.|
|1971||speleological museum founded at Gagny (Seine-Saint-Denis).|
The Grotte de la Devèze is famous for its extraordinary speleothems, fragile needles, transparent or of white colour consisting of calcite and aragonite. This is why the cave is also called le palais de la fileuse de verre (the palace of the glass spinner). The most magnificent speleothems can be seen in the Salle G. Milhaud, almost at the end of the tour. The tour starts at the middle level and ends at the upper level. During the one-hour tour the visitors ascend 60 m on stone steps.
A few years ago the cave was renamed the Grotte de la Fileuse de Verre (Cave of the Glass Spinner). It seems to be derived from the name Palace of the Glass Spinner which was given to the group of most translucent speleothems in the upper layer. For some reason the museum is not advertised anymore, but it seems it still exists and is accessible with a cave visit. Also, there is a new 3D presentation of the show cave and various other caves in the area. This allows a cave visit for people which are not able to walk the 60 m ascend, and a visit of otherwise closed caves. We are not aware why this is not mentioned on the homepage (which is especially uninformative). We guess its just incompetence on the side of the website creator.
The cave was discovered during the construction of the Bédarieux-Mazamet railroad in 1886-87. This original entrance is today a circular hole in the northeast corner of the railway station, seven meters above the yard. Rail workers first poked through the cave, devastating the concretions. But the first real exploration was carried out by E. A. Martel, Bourguet and Armand in 1893. Bourguet drew the first map of the cave with a vertical cross-section the same evening. Then the cave was forgotten until M. Milhaud and his team started the exploration in 1928. They discovered the upper level with its beautiful concretions in 1930. Subsequently the cave was developed as a show cave by the Spéléo-Club de la Montagne Noire et de l'Espinouse, cavers from Mazamet and nearby Saint Pons. Soon after it was equipped with electric light, and then officially opened by the famous French speleologist Norbert Casteret.
The yard of the now abandoned railway station is also the location of the Musée Français de la Spéléologie (French Speleological Museum). Although there is no offical ranking of speleological museums, they claim to have the National museum. Anyway, this museum is rather big and well done, it is officially approved and controlled by the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris (Natural History Museum of Paris) and supported by the Fédération Française de Spéléologie (French Speleological Society) and the Parc Régional du Haut-Languedoc (Regional Park of the Haut-Languedoc). The museum is maintained by the speleologists Joëlle and Patrick Pallu. It was originally created by the Équipe Spéléo Centre-Terre in 1971 at Gagny (Seine-Saint-Denis).
The exhibits include the most important collection of documents, devices and equipment from the heyday of French speleology. It was supported by Norbert Casteret, Pierre Chevalier, Haroun Tazieff, Guy De Lavaur, Bernard Geze, and the widow of Robert de Joly. The topics of the exhibition are the history of caving, great cavers, geology, speleobiology, cave protection and local caving.