1922 – 2022
THE MOST ROMANTIC STORY OF CAVE DISCOVERIES
The history of this unique place the “cave of columns” discovered 1 century ago by the greatest of chances.
Until the end of the 1820s, to descend into the Dordogne valley, the inhabitants of the villages of the Haut-Quercy plateaus took the path of Fontanelles which passed in front of the castle and crossed the village of Saint Médard de Presque.
This path became difficult to walk during rainy episodes. Faced with landslides and other recurrent mudslides, it was decided to widen the cornice located above the village to build the road that today connects Gramat to Saint Céré. It was by opening the way of the current “departmental 807” to explosives, that the cave was discovered, by chance, in 1825 in the middle of the site. Completely closed, there is no trace of human or animal passage (except bats).
At that time, all the land belonged to the chatelaine of the village, Miss DA COSTA. This “very beautiful, lonely woman” is said in the region fell under the spell of a sultan from the Middle East. In love, she followed him to his country, leaving Quercy overnight to become his first favorite. Its built heritage and land were then scattered. The story does not say how they met, nor what an Arab prince was doing in the depths of the Lot… Above all, it does not say what the rich owner has become.
For almost 100 years only the inhabitants of the area ventured there. Wooden planks simply block the entrance.
At the end of the First World War, in 1920, the desire to go out and live again was there. Tourism is launched and many curious people come to take a look in the area by getting closer to the caves. This is how it was decided to develop the premises to open the site to the visit. After a few candlelight strolls for a while, the cavity was electrified, the accesses secured and on June 24, 1922 the Caves of Almost became officially accessible to visitors.
In the wake opens “the Auberge of cave “. We come in large numbers, visit and have lunch on site. Tourism is developing and the Caves attract more and more people including the great cavers of the region, eager to discover this new field of exploration.
From the FAURE family then MOULENE, the descendants have continued this family adventure it is now Maurice and Valérie LAMOUROUX who have obviously taken over. “As a child, I grew up in caves. At 12, I made my first group visits with my tape recorder in hand to avoid stammering,” recalls Maurice, who was able to afford his first moped for his 14th birthday with the recipe for visits.
The Cave of Columns
“It is a cave synthesis of everything found in the region with the particularity of having stalagmitic pillars more than 9 meters high”, which makes Presque one of the highest explains Valérie.
“Stalactites, stalagmites, aragonites, eccentrics, there are all types of concretions with a wide range of colors,” Maurice continues, insisting on the singularity of candles – two columns side by side about ten cm in diameter – which are among the finest in Europe”.