If you literally want to be in the heart of the Languedoc, you have to pay a visit to the superb Grotte des Demoiselles. Situated in the depths of the Hérault gorges, right in the centre of Languedoc, this limestone cavern reveals an impressive underground cathedral. How incredible to witness all these amazing sculptures, created about a million years ago with only a few drops of water. Let your imagination guide you into a world of magic. Full of timeworn true stories or ancient legends?
We had a wonderful guide who tickled our imagination. He explained that La Grotte des Demoiselles was also known as “La Grotte des Fées”. According to a legend, a shepherd was looking for his lost lamb when he entered the cave. He couldn’t find the poor animal, so he walked deeper and deeper into the cave, with only one torch to light his way. Unfortunately, the shepherd slipped, fell about 50 meters in and lost consciousness. According to the shepherd, he was surrounded by hundreds of dancing fairies, led by a white lady. When he woke up, he saw himself back at the entrance, reunited with his lost lamb. Hence the name of the cave- Bauma (‘cave’ or ‘grotte’) Damaïselas (‘young lady’ or ‘mademoiselle’) in Occitan.
Our guide perfectly explained to the kids how the light of the shepherd’s torch could have influenced his imagination. To demonstrate this, the guide turned out the lights. Yep, all the light in the cave, that is. Luckily, none of the kids started screaming. Neither did I. Although I have to admit that it was quite impressive, standing in a pitch dark cavern. When our guide lit his torch, he showed us that you could see all kinds of shapes in the shadows of the stalagmites and stalactites. Even frantically dancing fairies!
When entering the cathedral chamber from above, I was completely blown away by the beauty of it. With majestic dimensions of 120 meters in length, 52 meters in height and 48 meters in width, this chamber is one of the most impressive I have ever seen. Our kids are not really interested in numbers though. So our guide got their attention by getting us to look for Scrat, the sabre-tooth squirrel from Ice Age. And indeed, we found him! Or was it the Virgin Mary with child?