A glass footbridge, underground river and a red room...
A cold beauty and intense sensations await you in this crystal cathedral
The Gouffre géant, or giant chasm, is located 25 km from Carcassonne, and dominates the small village of Cabrespine nestled in the Clamoux gorges, at the foot of the Pic de Nore (1211m).
Visiting this natural wonder, you discover one of the largest caves open to the public in the world, which is also one of the ten most beautiful caves in Europe.
It is famous for its wealth of crystallisations: aragonite, curtains, columns, waterfalls... all stars of the show.
A glass bridge, cave exploration and dancing lights make the site even more spectacular.
At the bottom of the chasm, there is an underground river with a blue marble bed. This river continues through the Grotte de Limousis and finally emerges again beneath the Lastours Cathar châteaux.
Deep within the montagne Noire, this huge cave was carved out patiently by water over thousands of years. It was occupied by people in the Bronze age. It was only discovered in 1934 by the Aude caving club and has been open to the public since 1988.
- As soon as you enter, you are amazed by the sheer size of this underground cave, 80 metres wide and 250 metres deep. It is viewed from a specially created balcony: the Eiffel Tower could fit inside it!
- Those who love an adrenaline rush should try the glass footbridge. This bridge, identical to the one in the Grand Canyon, allows you to experience a 200 metre void beneath your feet. It is world first in a cave. If you have vertigo, give it a miss!
- From the 'balcons du diable', specially constructed and accessible to disabled visitors, the view is breathtaking. The belvédère des disques, a staircase up a stalagmite, leads you even closer to the vaulted roof.
- The magical spectacle continues in the 'salle rouge' and the 'salle des cristaux', a former underground river bed.
- The Gouffre runs guided tours to find out more about the history of the site and its formation, and to better explore the detail in the beautifully illuminated concretions.
- If you fancy an adventure, the 'Safari souterrain', or underground safari, is perfect for you. Once you've got your caving gear on and your helmet and headlamp have been adjusted, you're ready for a fabulous voyage to the centre of the Earth. Descend to the bottom of the chasm for a five hour exploration. Open to all, it's an original compromise between amateur caving and a visit to a cave.
Dès l'entrée dans le gouffre, l'effet est impressionnant. Le vide sous nos pieds sur la passerelle donnerait le vertige... Notre guide était très intéressante et à notre écoute ! Tout ça donne l'envie d'aller encore plus loin et pourquoi pas faire une petite séance de spéléo... Vraiment une très belle visite !
Did you know?
Wine cellar and bat 'reserve'
Despite what you may think, once the lights go out, the Gouffre and its network of caves come to life. Thousands of bats actually live in the lower part of the chasm. No fewer than 10 of the 30 species found in France have chosen Cabrespine as their home. And the people here should not be forgotten, as the Gouffre provides the perfect 14 degree temperature for maturing Minervois wines. And now, wine is stored in amphorae. A world first!
The Gouffre de Cabrespine is also in the heart of truffle country. There are many links between gastronomy and the Gouffre.
- Dogs are admitted to the chasm on leads
- Pushchair and wheelchair access, pathway flat to 80%
- Photographs and videos permitted
- Temperature throughout the year 14°c: A perfect place to visit on a rainy day or when it's very hot. Bring a thin jacket.
- On site there is a souvenir shop, local wine and produce, free parking, snack bar, exhibition and sale of minerals, and toilets.
The Gouffre is open every day from 10th February until 10th December 2019.
- 10th February - 6th April: audio-guided visits
- 7th April - 4th November: guided visits
- 5th November - 9th December: audio-guided visits
#Find out more about the opening hours
Duration of visit: 45 mins
Groups: open all year round (except 25th December and 1st January) for groups of over 15 people, upon reservation.
How to get there
- The Gouffre géant is located in the montagne Noire, on the road leading to the Pic de Nore, the D112. Follow signs for Mazamet from Carcassonne and then Gouffre Géant.
- Free car parking on site.
- GPS co-ordinates lat. 43° 21' 35" - long. 2° 27' 25"
Adolescent (under 18 years old): €9.20
Child (under 13 years old): €6.90
Under 5 years old: free
Student under 25 years old, jobseeker: €9.20
The grotte, or cave, is a gallery, a succession of room, with a more intimate atmosphere
The gouffre, or chasm, is impressive, its footbridge is a must
You should see them both! They are so very different