Rappel Descent A Laven Armand Aventure 17 Laetitia Raisin RobertRappel Descent A Laven Armand Aventure 17 Laetitia Raisin Robert
©Rappel Descent A Laven Armand Aventure 17 Laetitia Raisin Robert|Laetitia Raisin Robert

Aven Armand exploration tour

Like the day of discovery

A descent along the natural shaft like a caver, a first aerial view of the cavity, an exploration by headlamp, all in the footsteps of the discoverers of Aven Armand. A magnificent experience full of emotion… and sensations!

Magnificent experience…

We really regret nothing in the face of the emotion we feel in front of this natural wonder.

Ready for caving?!

Arrival at the large Aven Armand parking lot, 1st surprise: the welcome and departure are on the outskirts of a pasture, on the edge of… a hole! Coffee is welcome: it’s early and chilly on the Causse Méjean!

We’re welcomed by Edouard-Alfred Martel, inventor of speleology and illustrious discoverer of caves, and Armand Viré, father of biospeleology (the study of cave-dwelling organisms). Or rather, their reincarnation as 2 young qualified instructors! Well in character, they plunge us back into the late 19th – early 20th century, the crazy era of the great discoveries of the underground world.


Descent into the cave's natural shaft

Here I am, sitting on the edge of the “mouth” of the cave. Under my feet, emptiness and darkness. This is the 75-metre-deep natural shaft (before reaching the heart of the cave).
No effort on the descent; Martel and Viré take care of everything!

Gently descending along the wall of the natural shaft. The vegetation is thinning out as quickly as night is gaining ground. Time to turn on the headlamp. I don’t know whether my goose bumps come from the freshness or the emotion of exploring the bowels of the Earth. All 5 senses are awake, but landmarks are lacking in the darkness.

I can well imagine the sensations of the very first explorers.


“It’s immense! Superb! A real stone forest. Monsieur Martel, it’s splendid, there are at least 100 columns. The tallest is a good 25 metres. I’ve never seen anything like it! Louis Armand on his 1st exploration of Aven.

Descent into the Aven Armand natural well
Descent into the Aven Armand natural well
Descente dans le puit naturel de l'Aven Armand

Under the vault of Aven Armand

How come I can’t (re)feel the well walls around me? Not a sound, except for the “ploc” of a few falling drops of water. Where am I?
Little by little, the (soft) lighting reveals the wonders of the cavity. Amazing. It’s as if I’m suspended from the vault of the cave, at stalactite height, overlooking a monumental forest of stalagmites.

I’m in total awe of this masterpiece of Nature. The room is immense, the 360° panorama breathtaking from the end of my rope. I feel as if I’m flying or floating through an incredible forest of stones.

Louis Armand, the discoverer of Aven Armand (hence its name), greets me at the terminus of this descent. It takes me a few seconds to come to my senses once I’m on the cow floor!

Oval-shaped, 120 m long, 60 m wide and almost 100 m high, Aven Armand could be the home of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Exploring the pot hole by headlamp alone

We’re alone in Aven Armand. The exploration begins in the heart of an enchanting virgin forest of over 400 stalagmites. The play of light and shadow excites the imagination: stacked pancakes, draperies, broccoli, palm tree, turkey, tiger… and the 30m-high Grande Stalagmite!
We really feel like we’re in a Jules Verne novel: an enchanting, impressive, disconcerting and captivating stroll.

The subdued lighting and headlamps take us back to the conditions of the first expedition, recounted by Louis Armand himself (reincarnated as a guide)! The conditions of discovery were far more sporting and hazardous. Hats off to you, explorers!


“No known cave in the world has anything like it,” wrote Edouard-Alfred Martel of the forest of 400 stalagmites at Aven Armand.

A "dreamlike" return to the surface

It’s time to return to the surface. No difficulty: it’s a small funicular that lifts us up to the end of a 200-metre-long tunnel, right into the sun.

Direction to the Spéléo-Café where we are joined by Martel, Armand and Viré to hand over our Certificat d’Explorateur de l’Aven Armand. Numbered and signed by the 3 discoverers of this “Treasure of Earth and Time”.

Before we leave, a quick observation… On one side, the little “hole”, the entrance to the cave. On the other, the funicular exit. Between the 2, the caving station… Oh oh?! So the parking lot is right above the huge Aven Armand cavity! Incredible adventure!

Like a cathedral, l’Aven Armand hosts concerts under the rock, a few dates a year. An unusual artistic experience.