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There are hundreds of limestone caves in the Alpes Maritimes up to 10km in length and 500m in depth. If you are interested in exploring these caves, check out the following websites for more information.
If you are new to caving, or wish to be accompanied by an experienced guide, Lou Païs offers a guiding service, and can provide all necessary equipment.
Grotte de Méailles is an hour from Les Basses Beaumettes and well worth an explore. You can walk several hundred metres into the cave without needing specialist equipment. Take several torches as rock pools make it quite treacherous.
There are also a number of small show caves near Basses Beaumettes, grouped around St Vallier de Thiey (45 minutes drive).
The Grottes de Baume Obscure and Souterroscope can be found at Chemin de Ste Anne at St Vallier for more information tel. 04.93.42.61.63.
If you have seen enough of show caves, but the full speleological experience seems a little much, or if you want to try something completely different, then why not try out the Via Souterrata at La Mouliere (thirty minutes drive from Basses Beaumettes).
This is the world's first via ferrata inside a cave! You will descend vertically into a pothole with the aid of iron rungs, make your way over a number of wobbly bridges, clamber up and down a few vertical walls and squeeze through narrow passages before climbing 15m up a very steep and in some places slightly over hanging, wall on rungs to exit the cave further down the mountain. The cave system you go through is 350m long and 35m below the surface.
The trip is led by an excellent guide who is extremely experienced and tells you all about the formation of the caves you go through, wild life that lives in various parts of the caves, and about the sport of caving.
The cave is warmish, the temperature averages 10 degrees all year round, and dry, even in the wettest of weather, and there are plenty of impressive calcite formations to see along the way.
Throughout the trip, your safety is protected in exactly the same way as with a via ferrata, where you are clipped into steel cables to prevent you actually falling off anything. No technical climbing ability is required, and there is also an escape route, should the final steep wall be too much for you.
Groups are generally a maximum of ten people with a guide. The Via Souterrata is not suitable for children under 10 years old or less than 1m 30cm, as you need to be a certain height to reach the rungs!
The cost of the trip is 20€, which includes all necessary equipment. The duration of the trip is approximately 2 hours 45 minutes.
The Via Souterrata is open all year round (by appointment only in winter). Telephone: 04 93 60 34 51.