Where / When / Why
Aven Armand is in le Parc national des Cévennes, and it’s easiest to reach by car. It doesn’t really matter when you visit because it’s underground! The temperature inside the cave is about 11/12 degrees year round, so bring warm layers if you’re visiting in summer. The cave is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen; it’s 50 million years old, and absolutely beautiful.
Our week holiday in France was one of the warmest I have ever experienced. The day we did the most driving, the mercury reached 35°C/95°F, and for once I was glad to have air con. It was fortunately a little cooler the day we visited Aven Armand, maybe 26°C, but it was still a surprise to feel so cool, just a little way underground.
When you arrive, it’s like being at a small town’s train station. Entrance and tour of the cave is 12€ (trust me, it’s worth it) and you pay in the gift shop. If your visit is like ours, you’ll soon be surrounded by anticipant, elderly French tourists, as you wait for the funicular. The tour is in French, but everything that’s said by the tour guide is written in the guide leaflet too, so make sure to pick one up, if you’re not fluent.
The cave is the product of water eroding soft limestone in the hill, and dripping down over millions of years to produce giant stalagmites and stalactites (stalagmites coming from the ground) in various shapes and sizes. Some of them are millions of years old; they grow at a rate of about a hundred years per centimeter!
The lights are placed around the cave, and bounced of the stalagmites and changed around, producing beautiful effects. As part of the tour they also project little videos around the cave, to explain its discovery and development, which are cool. Supposedly it really inspired Jules Verne when he was writing his famous novel, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in 1864.
I won’t say more because, it’s more fun to learn about the place when you are there 🙂
If you are hot and bothered, or rained out in central France I recommend a visit, and I hope you have a good time!