The Padirac Chasm is an awe-inspiring natural wonder; a treasure of geological architecture formed over thousands of years by water activity. They are among the largest karst caves in Europe, stretching out across about 40 miles (though only about a mile of these is open to the public). It is not known exactly when the caves were discovered, but the first official exploration - led by Édouard-Alfred Martel - took place in 1889. After ensuring the caves were safe they were opened to the public in 1899, and have been an acclaimed visitor attraction ever since.
A tour of the caves begins at a depth of 338 feet (103 metres), and is partially navigated by boat on the subterranean river system. Highlights include the Great Pendant, a 197 feet (60 metre) stalactite hanging over the 'Rain Lake', and the Grand Dôme. This is the largest cavern, stretching 308 feet (94 metres) over the heads of visitors. Also on display are some of the impressive rock structures, such as limestone flowers, that have been carved into some of the caves. Giving a wonderful history of the geology of this fascinating region, the Padirac Chasm is truly a sight to behold.
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