The Two Caves: Le Gouffre Géant and Grotte de Limousis, Languedoc, France - 11th August 2018

Another of the recommendations of the dude who owns the house is a visit to some nearby (~40km) caves - the Gouffre Géant at Cabrespine and the Grotte de Limousis. The Gouffre Géant wins on sheer epic scale (it's truly enormous) but we do the smaller of the two, at Limousis, first, and it proves to be the better visit. This is partly because the tour actually takes us through several chambers in the extensive cave system, so you get to feel a bit more like you're actually exploring the underground world, but also because the guide is amusing and talks slowly and clearly enough so that we can both easily translate for the boys, so that they also know what's going on. The tour of the Cabrespine "giant" is much less extensive and the tour guide rattles through her spiel rapidly and with a heavy accent, making it frankly baffling. However, the size of the cave is truly staggering, so it's still worth a look. In between the two, we stop off at Villeneuve de Minervois for a spot of lunch, and afterwards, after Harry spots some actual otters in the river, as we head back to the Cité of Carcassonne to watch the evening light show of the living stones: Les pierres sont vivantes en ma Cité de Carcassonne!

next album: Petanque and a Lightning Storm, Carcassonne, Aude, France - 12th August 2018
previous album: The Lac de la Cavayère, Carcassonne, Aude, France - 10th August

Isobel has a tiny coffee as we wait for our first cave tour to kick off

The tour group assembles by the small Hobbit-hole door to the cave

Harry and Isobel appear

The stalactites and stalagmites are nicely reflected in water

In the green pool, which stays at 8°C all year round

The tour guide perches on a fence

Twisty rocks

Lines formed by several different river levels can be seen

Delicate crystals in the Aragonite 'chandelier'

The Aragonite chandelier

More stalagtites

The tour guide pretends to hold up the cave

Spectacular columns of concretion on the way out of the cave

Hundreds of needle-like stalactites dangle from the roof of the cave

Vineyards and mountains

The town of Villeneuve de Minervois and some vines

The sleepy town of Villeneuve

Fred and Harry do 'cheers'

There's a fiddle statue which looks just like the straw one at the Cambridge folk festival

Tree-covered French street

A closed-up bakers

Looking down from the top of the hill

Villeneuve back street and clock tower

Harry eats a Croque Monsieur

Up in the hills outside cave 2: the Gouffre Géant

The gang roam around

Cabrespine 'giant hole' sounds a bit less romantic than Gouffre Géant

It's hard to get a sense of the size of this cave, but it's 200 metres from top to bottom

Epic stalactite structures

There's a structure that looks just like the Jules Rimay world cup

More groovy stonework

ALien-like concretions

Back at the house, Harry tries to hack up a cork

Harry's got some pants on outside his trousers

Fred does his astro jacks out in the street

Harry spots actual otters in the river

One of the otters - which we name Lottie or Otis - swims around

Isobel, Harry and Fred wander back up to the Cité

The sun sets over Carcassonne

The boys run around again

There are some impressive projections on the walls of the Château Comtal

A map of France in lights

More impressive lights from the Cité des Pierres Vivantes light show

There's a performance from a highly-unusual 6-stringed cello

Some kind of dance occurs within the Château Comtal

A dancer stands on his head

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Isobel has a tiny coffee as we wait for our first cave tour to kick off