Les grottes du Régulus et des Fontaines

Useful Information

Location: Boulevard de la Falaise, Meschers. 15 km from Royan. (45.555703, -0.957809)
Open: 04-APR to 03-JUL daily 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
04-JUL to AUG daily 10:30-12:30, 13:30-18:30, every 20 minuetes.
SEP daily 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
OCT to 16-OCT daily 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
17-OCT to 01-NOV daily 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
02-NOV to 11-NOV daily 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30.
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (5-15) EUR 3.50, Children (0-4) free, Students EUR 4.20, Unemployed EUR 4.20, Disabled EUR 4.20.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 4.40, Children (5-15) EUR 3.
Classification: SubterraneaCave House
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: L=200 m, St=100, D=45 min. V=70,000/a [2018] Written explanations available in Deutsch - German English Nederlands - Dutch Italiano - Italian
Accessibility: no
Address: Les grottes du Régulus et des Fontaines, 81 boulevard de la Falaise, CS 90094, 17132 Meschers sur Gironde (France), Tel: +33-546-025536, Mobile: +33-603-185442. E-mail: 17132 Meschers, Tel: +33-546-025229.
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.




The Grottes du Régulus are located on the right banks of the Gironde river estuary. They were named after the ship Régulus, a two-deck, three-masted. The Captain Jacques Mathieu Régnauld was ordered to patrol the mouth of the Gironde in 1814. They were ordered to prevent the entry of the British, with the help of the three bricks Malay, Sans-Soucis, and Java. Soon the met an English squadron of ten ships which had come to regain control of the estuary. As they were ficed with this firepower the French took shelter in front of the fort of Meschers. The situation was desperate and Captain Régnauld decided to scuttle his fleet to avid them getting captured by the English. During the night the officers placed combustible materials in strategic places and set the ships on fire, the crews disembarked. According to legend the Regulus burned for three days and three nights.

The soft Cretaceous limestone or chalk was deposited during the Cretaceous (140-65Ma). At this time the area was covered by a shallow, warm, oxgen rich sea which was full of life. The sediment was subsided, converted into rock through high pressure and temperature in a process called diagenesis. Later it was uplifted again to its current position, while the Gironde river cut into the soft limestone forming the cliffs. The estuary of the Gironde is 75 km long and up to 12 km wide. The biggest estuary of Europe is formed by to important French rivers, the Dordogne and the Garonne, which meet to form the Gironde.

The soft chalk allowed the construction of cave houses, which are used until today. One of the caves was during the 19th century a restaurant called Le restaurant des Fontaines. Tourists, who came here for swimming in the sea, brought income to the towns. The sunny and warm terraces facing south made the caves ideal for restaurants and cafés. The living conditions and the historic cafe are documented in the museum.

Another topic are the shipwreckers who frequented the river. They plundered sips which wrecked in the estuary during storms. A famous local shipwrecker was Cadet with his goat Belin.