Grotte de Foissac

Grotte préhistorique de Foissac

Useful Information

Location: Cap de Tété, 12260 Foissac.
D922 between Figeac-Capdenac and Villefranche-de-Rouergue. 1.5 km south of Foissac.
(44.502759, 2.006762)
Open: APR to MAY Mon-Fr, Sun, Hol 14-17.
JUN daily 10-11:30, 14-18.
JUL to AUG daily 10-18.
SEP daily 10-11:30, 14-18.
OCT Mon-Fr, Sun, Hol 14-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 11.50, Children (3-11) EUR 7.50, Children (0-3) free, Students EUR , Family (2+2) EUR .
Groups (+): Adults EUR 9.50, School Pupils (3-18) EUR 6.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave TopicSentier Karstique
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=10,000 m, T=12 °C.
Guided tours: D=60 min, L=400 m, VR=10 m, St=78. V=18,000/a [2000]
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Jean-Philippe du Fayet de la Tour (2013): La grotte préhistorique de Foissac, une fin dʼoccupation brutale, In: VIVRE ET MOURIR EN TEMPS DE GUERRE DE LA PRÉHISTOIRE À NOS JOURS | Patrice Foissac, p 17-25. online
Address: Grotte préhistorique de Foissac, Cap de Tété, 12260 Foissac, Tel: +33-565-646052, Cell: +33-619-129828. E-mail: contact
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.


5,000 BP cave entrance collapses.
1959 the owner of the land, the farmer Abel Pailhasse asked Villefranchois speleologists to check a rocky embankment.
1965 discovered by a team of Capdenacois speleologists.
1973 opened to the public.
1978 declared a historic monument.
1980 archaeological excavations.
1980s-1990s excavations by François Rouzeaud.
1998 François Rouzeaud dies in the pottery room, which is later renamed salle François Rouzeaud in his honour.
2006 Alain and Sébastien du Fayet de la Tour discover paintings and engravings from the Upper Palaeolithic.
2014 Sébastien du Fayet de la Tour discovers a prehistoric statuette.
2016 Philippe Bertochio crosses the first siphon, and Thomas Delpech the second.


The Grotte préhistorique de Foissac (Prehistoric Cave Foissac) is located between the Aveyron Gorges and the Lot valley. The river cave system drains the karst plateau. Numerous rivers sink in this area into the cave system and reappear in the Lot valley.

The limestone plateau of Foissac has numerous prehistoric remains like dolmens. The cave was visited by man since the prehistoric, especially during the Chalcolithics. At some time, around 5,000 BP, the cave passage was blocked by a rockslide, which not only kept our ancestors out, but also protected the cave content. The owner of the land, the farmer Abel Pailhasse, discovered "smoke" emitting from a rocky embankment. This was actually the humid cave air, the vapor condensed in the winter air and became visible. He contacted the speleologists in Villefranche, and they started to search the area. First they discovered a narrow passage which was eroded by the Jonquière river. In 1965 cavers from Capdenac discovered the cave, which was named Grotte de Foissac after the nearby village. The Foissac cave was developed and opened to the public in 1973.

During the 1980s and 1990s the archaeologist François Rouzeaud and his team excavated the Chalcolithic remains. He spent a lot of time in the cave, and in 1998 he died in the cave during an internship as a scientific team member at the top of the pottery room, which was later renamed salle François Rouzeaud in his honour. Alain and Sébastien du Fayet de la Tour discovered paintings and engravings from the Upper Palaeolithic in 2006. Sébastien du Fayet de la Tour discovered a prehistoric statuette in 2014. At the same time cave divers explored downstream and Philippe Bertochio crossed the first siphon, and in 2016 Thomas Delpech the second.

The cave has an enormous amount of archaeological remains. Human footprints, clay quarries, graves, fireplaces, and potteries were human uses based on the abundant clay deposits of the cave. But also tools and jewelleries were found. Also, several animals have been found, like the skeleton of a lion which was untouched and the bones remained in anatomic connection. The cave was scientifically examined between 1978 and 1988. As many remains were underwater, the cave river had to be rerouted. The water was either pumped out or rerouted through a pipe.

The cave site includes also an archaeological museum and a so-called prehistorical park. Both are included in the entrance fee and are visited self-guided. Archaeological objects from the cave during planned excavations and fortuitous discoveries are presented. The artifacts of stone, bone, wood or terracotta show tha many achievements of the Chalcolithic people. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.