This is Europe’s largest and longest open to the public cave system (a fact validated by the Guinness Book of World Records). The cave itself is located on the side of a small road with a non descript sign – it is easy to miss. Address: 09400 Ussat – across the road that runs parallel in this area to the L’Ariege River – about 90km from Toulouse and 50 km from the country of Andorra.
A number of tours are offered each day – our visit coincided with the three hour tour which is an ample amount of time to see the most visited parts of the cave including one of the main chambers (not the largest) and is where summer concerts are sometimes held. This chamber has great acoustics. During this time special dinners are often organized within the cave; inquire for more details and dates.
Other highlights of this tour are the inscriptions and signatures on parts of the walls – historical graffiti if you will. Some of these signatures date back to the 1600’s with the dates clearly visible.
Ever drank cave water? Well you have a chance during your visit here – one of the parts of the cave contains a short tunnel which is overflowing with fresh water that drips down from the surface hundreds of meters above. At the furthest in part of this tour you are about 1,500 meters below the surface. A seasonal cave lagoon forms at the furthest point you will reach on this tour when it has been particularly rainy. Unless you love swimming in very cold weather – a swim here won’t be a pleasant experience!
The lighted part of the cave winds through about 2 kilometers (4km round trip). Longer more interesting trips can be arranged by reservation – where you go with a guide behind the lights into huge caverns and narrow crawl ways.
As a real downside is no photographs are allowed inside the cave. Visit: www.grotte-lombrives.fr