The French Underground

Saint Antonin 574

In French, when you’re drifting, not quite all there, and someone catches you at it, you say “O pardon, j’étais dans les nuages.”  Sorry, I was in the clouds.  Because usually when we drift, it’s up and away, we’re not normally thinking of what lies down there right beneath our little pink sneakers.

Saint Antonin 592-1

The upper crust is all we normally know of our planet, and we think of it as solid.  So when we saw signs for the Grotte du Bosc, I was immediately drawn to seeing what might be underneath it all.  Alas, when I called about a visit, I learned that the season was nearly over, only groups could be accepted, and the two of us didn’t count as a group.  Expecting nothing, I asked that if a group should happen to schedule a visit in the few days remaining before the grottoes went to bed for the winter, we be allowed to join them.  And lo and behold, a a day or two later the phone rang.

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It was Monsieur Pierre Régi, who with his wife Michele owns what we were soon to discover, the fabulous grottoes underlying the tiny hamlet of Bosc.  I’d never really considered that a person might own a grotto, but M. Régi’s father discovered the grottoes in 1936, and the family eventually developed and now displays its treasures proudly.

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We didn’t know it when he called, but we were being invited to join a small class of deaf students as they explored another nearly soundless world 70 feet below the surface of their daily lives.  The kids were very excited by it all, and so were we.

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The caverns were narrow, damp, steep, slippery, and utterly majestic.

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We slithered our way through passages so narrow that some of us had to turn sideways,

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clambered down steps so precipitous that even M. Régi, who went ahead to explain what we were seeing, looked as small as one of the kids next to the rock formations at the bottom.

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A long-ago bear had found its way down into the river that formed the grottoes, but not out again, which thrilled the kids, who were getting the story through an amazing assortment of amplifying  headgear and some signing by their teachers.

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I think the adults were more thrilled by this column, formed from the fusion of a stalactite and a stalagmite, but looking for all the world as if it had been carved in Roman times.

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M. Régi explained that the area is undoubtedly riddled with such extravagant displays of beauty, destined to remain unseen, which I find mind boggling.

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I’m just grateful that this one has come to light, and that we got to share it with a group of giggling kids who have their own deep, dark places to navigate on their way to finding their personal bit of solid ground.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

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3 Comments on “The French Underground”

  1. Terry Day Says:

    Abra,

    I was doggedly going through SabbaticalHomes.com seeking a needle in a haystack. I came across your lovely home and was captivated.

    That was BEFORE I clicked on this site. I could not stop reading. and reading.
    Such a life you guys live!!! Your prose is indeed intoxicating. The photography brings it alive, and oh, I simply wish I were there with you. I am glad you and your kitties were united again.

    If your lovely home is still available, perhaps we should talk. I am 53, single, and female. I plan to come to Seattle and rent first before moving everything from Central Florida. Boyfriend may or may not join me. I will rent my home while I rent in Seattle.

    I am a very happy homebody…I have the best 37-lb hound dog on the planet and 2 kitties I recently adopted from a rescue organization. I would take very, very good care of your home.

    Please let me know if this may be a possibility; if not, I would still like to follow your blog.

    Sincerely,

    Terry Day
    Alumni, Rollins College, Crummer School of Business, Winter Park, FL – 1991

  2. Sandra Says:

    A few days ago, our family returned from a trip to France…couldn’t tell you what number it was as we have been visiting France at least every year since 1983, with three trips in the past year. On a number of trips we have visited the pre-historic caves in the southwest of France, including this last trip when we visited Les Combarelles in Les Eyzies. We had previously seen Font de Gaume which is quite unbelievable. It never ceases to amaze us in our visits to these grottes and caves to see the paintings and etchings from 12,000 to 14,000 years ago. They are awesome! The Niaux cave is our very favorite. The best approach is to reserve a space online ahead of time as in the case of Les Combarelles there are only 6 persons per tour and most caves/grottes are limited in terms of visitors per day. Some caves do have English speaking tours available. Best regards —

  3. denny golden Says:

    What a pleasure to come across this report on “La Grotte Du Bosc”. I have lived in “Le Bosc” since 1972 and have always wondered if anyone ever noticed this great destination.
    St. Antonin, the village below the cliffs,is a wonderful place,untouched by both world wars. There are other world class Caves in the area along “Les Gorges de L’Aveyron”, not quite so accessible as “Le Bosc” but hugely exciting once discovered.
    Thank you for the update on M.Regi.Their family has been in and out of ownership over the decades and I love the fact that the family reins once again!


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