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Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 7 - Grotte de Choranche

It didn't take us a long time to drive to our next destination...perhaps 20 minutes.

Those limestone rock mountains look normal to me. I wonder what they can offer us?

Husband said there is a magnificent underground cave that worth visiting. I trust his taste.

We were glad to find that parking is not a problem at all. Judging from the extensive car parking at the caves side, it would suggest that the cave is a popular destination, presumably in summer months or weekends.

After parking, we stopped by a restaurant which sells basic snack food and drinks. Kids enjoyed their foods very much, guess they were very hungry by then.

At around 1.30 pm, we walked this path leading to the ticketing counter and the cave's entrance.

Lucky thing was, it's not as hot as we thought it was though the sun look pretty fierce shinning on us.

A few minutes walk, we reached the ticketing counter. There weren't too many visitors  waiting there at the time.

Entry to the cave is by guided tour and before entering the caves, visitors can view the information boards of the geological process at work, plus some fairly sterile archaeological exhibits. A pity that there was not many thought put into the presentation of the latter.

Putting on his old man's vest, this little boy look like an archaeologist himself. Cool !

Waiting is the most boring thing to do, I know....

Ok, finally it's time to go inside. William was thrilled about it !

Before entering, the tour guide had given us a little word of warning that the caves are constantly at 10C cold. Since we would be guided for an hour in this cold so we were advised to take jumper / coat / cardigan along.

As soon as we walked into the cave, I heard William exclaimed a "WOW". Actually I did the same in my heart too.

In the heart of the Vercors Mountains, the Grottes de Ghoranche lays at the bottom of a 984 feet high cliff, is a remarkable site in Europe. Touring the caves is like taking a trip back in time of 70 million years old....

Stalactites and stalacmites are everywhere to be seen....

The caves and underground river looked breathtaking with the color changing LED light.

There is a bear in there, can see?

Age 70 million years old, Choranche caves were discovered by Oscar Descombaz around 1890, who was at the origin, one of the first topography of this vast underground network.

Over the years, 18 miles of galleries have been explored.

The caves themselves are remarkable, and the lighting helps to bring out the best.

The walk inside the caves is on footpaths, which can be gently sloping and wet.

It's truly amazed to see the caves well lit in sections, showing areas we need to be looking at.

Such a brilliant idea...

Those lime straws had taken a very long time to form...

The water was absolutely still to give a perfect reflection of its surrounding.

Alien formation...

I thought I heard Vincent said that we were like walking inside the tummy of a giant whale...Yeah, I felt the same too. 

Besides, I also felt like time travelling...back to a few million ancient time. 

Those caves are still living, continuous growing object...

The hour-long guided tour has also shown us the olm, kept in special tanks.

Olm, or proteus is an early form of amphibian from the age of dinosaurs.The are the only cave-dwelling chordate species found in Europe. In contrast to most amphibians, it is entirely aquatic, and it eats, sleeps and breeds underwater. 

Olm is most notable for its adaptations to a life of complete darkness in its underground habitat. 

The olm's eyes are undeveloped, leaving it blind, while its other senses, particularly those of smell and hearing, are acutely development. It also lacks of any pigmentation in its skin, so is called "human fish". 

Captive experiments have shown that olm can survive for up to 10 years without food. This is a long-lived species, with a maximum longevity of up to 58 years or more. Anecdotal evidence suggests that olm can in fact live for more than 100 years!

We then followed our guide to another highlight of the tour...

Crystal clear water...

The lighting in the caves is absolutely superb...

I heard the tour guide said we were heading to watch a show...I wonder what kind of show was that?

Ok, there we were, standing in front of a giant wall...

Under the rapidly changing of spotlight, the rocks depict their different faces to the audiences. 

Nothing too spectacular about the show.

The show had ended in 10 minutes time, then we walked down to the caves by using this same stair case.

On the way back, we walked by another path.

Spectacular "soda straw"....so beautiful.

The purple light over there is the exit..

Looking back in full admiration...

Among so many caves that we have visited, this one is the most scenic and well presented, definitely worth all the travelling to here !

Before driving away..

Within 15 minutes time, we were back to Port en Royans...the small village which we had stopped by in the morning time. 

Still quiet, though the time was around 4 pm by then.

Finding our way to express way...

This is what happen whenever there is a quietness in the car...


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