The 1965 camp site
The 1965 camp site

Discovering the Grotte de la Salamandre

The wild Gorges de la Cèze, next to the Grotte
Nature in the gorges de la Cèze

The Grotte de la Salamandre opens in the middle of wild garrigue, halfway between the Pont du Gard and the Caverne du Pont d’Arc.
In the immediate vicinity is the river Cèze, which has wonderful bathing spots.
The natural entrance, the Aven de la Salamandre, was known a long time by loggers and hunters, but it had never been brought to the attention of speleologists until 1965. That year a forest engineer found an ancient document about a hole in the woods…

The spectacular natural entrance: the Aven de la Salamandre
The Aven de la Salamandre (natural cave entrance)

1965: first exploration

The Aven de la Salamandre (the natural entrance of the Grotte) was explored for the first time in 1965 by a team of speleologists from Uzès and Nîmes. After a 50 metres descent on a cable ladder, they were surprised to discover a vast area about the size of a football field, very richly adorned with titanic crystals of an incomparable aesthetic.

The first expedition was organised for twelve cavers who spent eight days exploring the cavity under the eyes of French television and the lens of Jack Bercand. The press covered the event for the whole duration of the exploration.

1965: Expedition Salamandre
A moving documentary shot during the first exploration

2011: beginning of the works

It took until 2009 to launch the project again. The project, born on the evening of the discovery was quickly abandoned due to its complexity.

After two years of complex studies and obtaining the necessary authorizations, the setting of the Grotte de la Salamandre could finally begin. To get the cave accessible to all, two tunnels had to be dug, one being perfectly horizontal to allow access to disabled people in a wheelchair.

Digging the first tunnel
Beginning the digging of tunnel No. 1
Works in progress inside the Grotte
Works in the cave

2013: Building the welcome center

The building of the welcome center started less than 4 months before the scheduled grand opening. Only wood construction could match this challenge and Jean-François Daures, a local architect specializing in vegetal architecture was chosen to design the project. He designed wooden buildings that fit perfectly into the surrounding landscape.

This beautiful and original creation got him to be published in many publications and to win awards in several international competitions.

Building the Welcome center

2013: Grand opening

It is in the summer 2013 that the Grotte de la Salamandre finally became accessible to all. People living in the region, who were not aware of the existence of such a treasure in their territory, were present. The Grotte was inaugurated the 28th of June 2013 by the préfet du Gard, Hugues Bousiges, with the presence many personalities.

Officials at the Grand Opening
From left to right: Lucien Affortit, Yvan Verdier, Max Roustan, Hugues Bousiges, Daniel Lelièvre, Fabrice Verdier, Jean-François Daures, Jacky Valy, Bernard Raoux
Crowd at the Grand Opening
The inhabitants of the region are at the rendez-vous

2014: a beautiful reward

On July 18, 2014, in the Grotte de la Salamandre, the préfet du Gard Didier Martin gave the Gold Medal of Tourism to the holder of the development project of the cave. It was 11 years since this prestigious award was given to an inhabitant of the Gard.

The Prefect of the Gard awards the Gold medal of Tourism to Daniel Lelièvre
The préfet du Gard Didier Martin gives the Gold Medal of Tourism to Daniel Lelièvre
The Gold Medal of Tourism
A nice audience for this unusual ceremony
The audience was important for this rare event

2016: two stars in the Michelin Guide!

After only 3 seasons of opening to the public, the Grotte de la Salamandre got 2 stars in the Guide vert Michelin. Exceptionally, they are given “up front” to the Grotte while generally, one enters the guide without star, then stars are slowly conquered one by one. By directly giving the Grotte de la Salamandre two stars, the Guide Michelin rewards the quality, originality and emotion measured by 3 “mystery visitors” who visited incognito the site.
The entire team is already working in the hope of being the first cave of the Gard to get a 3rd star!

Two stars at the Michelin Guide

Virtual Tour

Discover the site of the Grotte de la Salamandre in a virtual tour.

Do not hesitate to switch to full-screen (the small button top-right)…