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A Day Trip Itinerary...print this out   print the content item
La Grotte des Demoiselles: Staggering

An antique postcard and a most modern
reception center.
Prepare to be overwhelmed. La Grotte des Demoiselles is a top-rated attraction in the Michelin guide. But the cavern's allure is ill served by a description that starts with a history lesson and a photo that conveys no sense of scale. To be fair, photos can only diminish this vast and awe-inspiring sight. It is one of the most astonishing natural wonders we've ever seen. We literally could not believe our eyes.

The claim is made that Demoiselles is one of Europe's finest caverns. It's no doubt true. The main event is an immense chamber called the Cathedral of the Abyss. Nothing prepares you for the cinematic sweep of this...unless you've seen the movie, Lord of the Rings. Then you'll be powerfully reminded of the caverns inside the dwarves' mountain.

Demoiselles is NOT handicapped accessible. You climb up and down stairs constantly, in a temperature said to be constant year-round: 57 degrees F/14 degrees C. We found it warmer than expected (in October), and the stairs keep you sweating. Bring your camera. You can touch (as the guide demonstrates, the stalagmites ring when you tap them). There's an elegant bar and gift shop. And the restrooms are quite beautiful. The tour takes an hour. It's in French, though printed tour materials are available in several languages. Incidentally, the drive to the Grotte is beautiful on its own merits once you get into the hills. Time to destination: 1 hour 15 minutes

Open year-round: 04 67 73 70 02

Visit the website: http://www.demoiselles.com/
Directions: Take the N9 to Pézenas. Continue on the A75 toward Clermont-l'Hérault. Turn off onto the N109 (Montpellier). There was a new road being built in 2005, so if in doubt, head for Gignac. Then head for Aniane on the D32. Then head for St. Martin-de-Londres. You'll notice Pic St. Loup on your right: it's the big spine of rock. At St. Martin, turn at "autres directions" onto the D986. Follow signs for Ganges. You'll start to see signs for the Grotte des Demoiselles. In the town of St. Bauzille-de-Putois, there will be a turn on the right that heads uphill, signed for the Grotte. The road quickly becomes narrow and winding. There's a tall cliff on your left. That's where you're headed. Don't worry about missing it: the road leads directly to the Grotte.
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