Grottes de Nichet


Useful Information

Location: Fromelennes, Ardennes
(50.120640, 4.864160)
Open: APR to MAY daily 14-18.
JUN to AUG daily 10-19.
SEP daily 14-18.
Last tour 1 h before closing.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 6, Children (7-16) EUR 3.50, Children (0-6) free.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 4, Children (7-16) EUR 3.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: VR=53 m, T=9 °C.
Guided tours: D=60 min, VR=30 m. Français - French English Nederlands - Dutch
V=4,800/a [2008]
Photography:  
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Grottes de Nichet, Rue des Ecoles, 08600 Fromelennes, Tel: +33-324-420014, Fax: +33-324-423756. 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.

History

16th cty cave first mentioned.
1895 opened to the public.
1950 Grotte du Trasson discovered.
1953 Grotte du Trasson explored.
1950s cave closed.
1965 excavations at the cave revealed the human presence.
11-APR-1987 cave renovated, electric light installed, cave reopened.

Description

The Grottes de Nichet (Caves of Nichet) actually does not deserve the plural, there is only one cave. This is a very old cave, opened to the public in 1895, according to Meyrac: Géographie illustrée des Ardennes. At this time each chamber was called a grotte, and a cave with more than one chamber was called Grottes.

This cave is located in the Givetian limestones of the Ardennes, actually from the geologic view it is a Belgian cave. However, there is a corridor of France protruding from the region Champagne-Ardenne, surrounded by Belgium, with this cave at the tip. This makes this cave quite unique, it is the only show cave in the northeast of France.

The cave has three levels, which follow the highly inclined banks of the limestone. The upper two levels are developed for the public. The cave requires climbing 114 steps, as the tour descends some 30 m. The highlight of the tour is the salle de la Roche, where a sound system recites a part of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The salle du Squelette (chamber of the skeleton) was named after a thief who planned to use the cave as a hideout in 1772. He only had a candle for light, and after it went out, he could not find the exit any more. As a result he died in the cave and his skeleton lies here. So goes the legend, but the skeleton is actually a dripstone formation. But some say there actually was a skeleton, which was found during the first development in 1895.

The cave was known to the villagers under the reign of Louis XIV, but no one dared to venture inside, because it was believed that the cave was the entrance to hell. From the 19th century the cave was actually visited and explored. When the cave was first developed in 1895, the works revealed bones in the sediment, which was subsequently excavated. The remains of cave bears, mammoths, reindeer, and humans were found. Excavations in 1965 around the cave revealed human presence. The last excavation in 1995 revealed a grave from the Bronze Age containing the skeletons of 17 people.

Nearby is a second cave, the Grotte du Trasson or Trou du Trasson. It was discovered in 1950 by the dog of the guide Monsieur Barbier. So it was named Trasson, because the dog was a terrier named Trasson. At first the entrance was too narrow for a man, only the dog could enter, but the entrance was widened in 1953 and the cave explored. The cave may be visited by speleologists.

Not only the cave was renovated during the last renovation in 1987. The surface was also updated, with a new parking lot, an entrance building with ticket office and chale, beergarden, and barbecue area. There is also a playground for children and one for adults called fitness trail. Much younger is the black pine observatory, an outlook tower with two platforms, one at 8 m and one at 12 m, accessible by a Nepalese footbridge. Definitely a nice place to spend an hour with a cold beer or a cup of coffee and homemade pastries, after the strenuous cave tour.