Le Domaine Les Ranchisses » The grotte de la Cocaliere
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Explore the grotte de la Cocalière. Located at the entrance to the Cévennes National Park, the grotte de la Cocalière cave is considered one of the most beautiful caves in France. It should be on your list of visits to make during your camping holidays in the Ardèche.

History of the grotte de la Cocalière

The grotte de la Cocalière was created 35 million years ago, a vast network of tunnels and passages dug into the limestone mountains. Prehistoric man used the system. But it was in the middle of the 19th century, in 1854 to be exact, that the Cocalière cave was rediscovered by Jules de Malbos. This naturalist from the Ardèche passed through the Cocalière cave. In the following decades, several explorers passed through the cave, such as Gaupillat in 1892 and Robert de Joly in 1937. From 1953, the Gard-Ardèche Speleology and Prehistory Society began to explore the entire underground complex, discovering white water in particular. The idea of developing the cave for the public dates from the early 1950s. It was the brainchild of Christian Bouquet and André Marti, two friends from the Ardèche. More than 12 years were necessary, with very little financial means, and in 1967 the first visitors arrived.Today, if part of the Cocalière cave can be visited, the exploration of the underground network continues.

Visit to the grotte de la Cocalière

The visit of the grotte de la Cocalière is guided and commented. A small branch of a gigantic underground network, it consists of a long corridor about 1km long which widens into rooms. Each room has a different name and offers various geological curiosities. In the Bivouac Camp room, the Adventure Shaft or the Gours room, you will obviously see stalagmites and stalactites, columns, disks. You will also see budding crystals, draperies and several gours and basins, in which tiny blind shrimps, niphargus, live. One of the unique geological phenomena of the grotte de la Cocalière is probably the formation of a cave pearl. Even though ochre dominates, the Cocalière is not called the “diamond cave” for nothing: the light makes some calcite crystals glow. At the end of the visit, a small train takes you back to the entrance through the garrigue. The visit lasts about 1 hour and is accessible to all.