Summer vacation plans this year came down to the wire. Max and I requested time off in August, intending to spend a week at the beach somewhere, but quickly realized that most vacation rentals had been reserved months in advance. We spent several evenings poring over the remaining options, unable to come to a decision or make any definitive choices. But two weeks before our vacation was scheduled to begin, Max came home from work and proudly announced,
“WE ARE VISITING the Gouffre de Padirac!”
“Uh what? What’s a gouffre?”
“It’s great! I went there when I was a kid.”
And that’s how we ended up driving three hours through the rolling farmlands of central France, then waiting in line for another hour, in the rain, to see a pit.
Sure, I may have voiced some doubts in regards to Max’s choice of vacation outing, especially considering his last recommendation from his childhood… but the place was surprisingly interesting. The Gouffre de Padirac is a chasm 35 meters across and 75 meters deep. It serves an an entryway to a series of caves created by an underground river. We had the option of taking an elevator or stairs to the bottom, but after too much time spent sitting and waiting that day, we sped down the stairs. Apparently there are about 9 kilometers of tunnels, and 2 of them are open to the public. The highlight of our guided tour was being transported along the river’s narrow channels, in a tiny gondola, in the dark, with other boats whizzing in both directions.
Unfortunately, no photography is allowed in the caves, and the pictures I managed to sneak didn’t come out too well. So here are some pictures from the official website.
In other news, our terrible Ikea mattress has been slowly developing an enormous dent in the middle, that we now refer to as the “Gouffre de Bedirac.”