The Gouffre de Padirac is a great cave that you can visit with a guided tour. Near the entrance, you will see that big hole, the chasm, with a diameter of 33m and being about 75m deep. This is where you need to go down to. So after fetching the ticket, you either can take the elevators or the stairs. The first elevator/stairs will bring you only slightly down to the next elevator and stairs. Now you are above in chasm, and the stairs down from there are definitely nothing for people who are afraid of heights like me! So we took the elevator, which fortunately only had a small window, I don’t really want to look out! Then you are almost at the bottom of the chasm. But not completely – there’s a third elevator which brings you down into the cave. I recommend you take the stairs instead, either when going down or up, as otherwise you’ll miss the view from the bottom of the chasm which is fantastic! These were “normal” stairs, no problem for me.
Then you go down into the cave, and walk along a long underground corridor until you reach the landing place for the boat. They did group the people by language, French and English, so that the guide in our boat explained everything just in English. It was a funny trip in the boat, unfortunately it was only short. At the other landing stage, a guide was waiting for us, and with a larger group of people we walked through the cave. The cave is very impressive, with fascinating huge dripstones, a lake, the river, a large hall etc., but we were kind of chased through the cave and hardly had any time to really enjoy it! This guided tour was mainly in French, and although the guide also said a few words in English we mostly didn’t manage to hear it as she always was talking while quickly running away!
After that guided tour we boarded the boat again and were brought back to the other landing stage where we had started. You leave the cave then the same way that you came – on your own pace!
It’s pretty obvious that the Gouffre de Padirac is a very touristy place. We’ve been there at 10 and were lucky to quickly get our tickets and also didn’t have to wait long for the elevators. And we only had to wait 15 minutes to enter the boat. But there are so many car parks all around, I guess in the high season it’s very full there!
A visit of the cave takes about 1,5 hours.
Admission (2012): 9,80 € adults, 6,60 € children.
Open daily from early April to early November, from at least 10h to 18h.
Photos are not allowed during the guided tour and the boat trip.
The entrance to the Gouffre de Padirac is a deep shaft with a depth of 75 Meters and a diameter of 33 Meters. This shaft opens to the surface and is therefor known for a long time. It gave the cave its name, gouffre means deep hole or bottomless pit in French. The visit of this cave includes a boat ride.
It is a guided tour and the guide is in many language. After the boat ride you walk in the cave for an hour, and then go back with the boat. (looks a little like the boats in Venice!!)
It is a nice experience
The elevator (or stairway) descends 75 meters along the edge of a hole that is almost 100 m in circumference and 35m in diameter. Water is continuously dripping from the edge. (Warning: as in all caves the temperature will be a constant 13C, so wear a warm jacket). After a short walk in the depths, an underground river is reached where one is loaded into boats that travel through passages and chambers for some time. The last part is a modest walk through further chambers back to the elevators. The total trip including the boat is 2 km. The walking is not too taxing but there are only two places where you could opt out and diminish your activity. The tour is entirely guided. I think there are multiple language groups available. Flash photography is not permitted. (We think when we went "no flash" was OK). The elapsed time is 1 1/2 hours. It has all of the ; open hours are daily usual cave features and the chambers are quite large. Admission fee is 8.7 euro, open hours 9:30-5:30, a little longer in summer.