Grotte Duhibou Millau7Grotte Duhibou Millau7
©Grotte Duhibou Millau7

Playing hide-and-seek in the owl's cave

An idea for a family outing near Millau in Nature Explorer mode

A "Grottuesque" afternoon

Discovering a cave around Millau is the goal set by a friend and her 8 and 10 year old children for the February vacations. There are the well-known Dargilan and Aven Armand caves, but today it’s a much more intimate exploration that I’ve decided to offer them for a snack, to introduce them to the underground world.

Caving is something that children generally love! In fact, my teenagers and my nieces and nephews, who are usually reluctant to take the Sunday walk, decide to join us for this family outing.

With a name like that, the Hibou cave has its share of surprises in store.

Quick access, 10 minutes from Millau

1/Ascension vers la Pouncho d’Agast

At the confluence traffic circle, we take the Causse Noir road (D110) towards Montpellier-le-vieux. On this winding climb, I’m tempted to stop every 100 meters and admire the spectacular view of Millau and the Millau Viaduct. Never mind, we’ll take the photos on the way down!

2/ In the middle of the climb, we park our cars at the 5th hairpin.

There’s room for 2 or 3 vehicles. After making sure everyone is properly equipped with hiking boots, lamps and helmets, water and the all-important snack, access to the cave is via a narrow path lined with box and oak trees. The path is steep, but easy to follow thanks to the markings on the trees.


Pouncho d’Agast means maple point in Occitan. At the very top, at the tip of the Causse Noir, a maple tree stood proudly amidst the pine trees.

The entrance to the cave, great!

After a lovely fifteen-minute climb and a few “Mom, when are we getting there!”, we catch sight of the foot of the Causse Noir cliffs. Another 2 or 3 stone and log steps and we’re there!

Two large porches, at the entrance and exit, corridors and more or less narrow gutters everywhere. We start by exploring every nook and cranny.

Inside, in the main corridor, we play at turning off lamps and our eyes gradually get used to the dim light.

Intrepid like children, I enjoy venturing out and exploring tunnels and windows, from top to bottom, on all fours or crawling, it’s a real discovery of the underground world. My friend, less at ease, prefers to stay under the entrance porch to enjoy the calm and magic of the place.

An essential stopping-off point for runners in the Festival des Templiers, the Owl’s Cave means imminent arrival, often at night, after a long journey.

The bat room

Wearing helmets and headlamps, we make our way down the deepest corridor. We arrive in a room where we can easily stand. We look around. A few sleeping bats hang here and there. We don’t linger to disturb them.

A few more minutes of crawling and we’re back in familiar territory, in the main corridor between the two porches.


Excavations inside the cave, notably by Louis Balsan in the 1930s, unearthed vast quantities of pottery, as well as human and animal bones. The finest pieces can be seen at the Musée Denys Puech in Rodez.

One last hide-and-seek before snack time

Now that every nook and cranny of the cave has been visited, the game of hide-and-seek can safely begin! Young and old have a great time, “Pierre-Feuille-Ciseaux” to see who starts counting… Here we go, 90 seconds, shouts and children’s games resound throughout the cave.

Total horizontal development of the cave is 40 meters. No risk of getting lost!

We need to think about heading back now. A quick snack before setting off again. We remain cautious on the descent, as the roots can also play tricks on us! A few photos and plenty of memories for this family outing really very close to Millau.

Are you interested?

Practical info

An activity to be enjoyed solo, as a duo, with friends or with your dog…. Allow 2h30 walk (on average) to reach Les Vignes. Canoeing is possible from the age of 5, but you must be able to swim and have no fear of water. That’s the rule! Even the most beautiful “unicorn” armbands worn by your toddlers won’t change a thing!

On the way, numerous signs point out hiking trails: Le rocher de Francbouteille, le Causse Méjean, l’Ermitage Saint Pons. Let’s organize another outdoor outing with a hike! For my part, it’s already in my diary.

It takes 2h/2h30 for the canoe descent. No need to rush…. You have to appreciate time and take breaks: swimming, hydration, nap, selfie, jump, contemplation, snack (if there’s any food left in the canister?!)

12 kilometers in the legs and 12 kilometers in the arms: that’s worth a snack, isn’t it? An artisanal ice cream to enjoy by the water, for example.

Continue the adventure