Road trip to some Caves

It’s a nutty idea, but we decided to actually get out and GO somewhere in our area today. Sightsee.

                        We chose les grottes de Choranche. Caves. (

                        It took just over an hour to get there. It’s open all year round, but we agreed that it wasn’t a drive you’d want to make in the middle of winter. The road leading to the caves was pretty steep (the sign said 15% grade) and pretty narrow.

                        We paid then made the 5 minute walk up to the entrance to the cave itself. After waiting for the guide, we joined the mob pushing its way through the door (a French line) and went on in.

                        It is something to see. You go in at the foot of a 300 meter cliff… so you’re instantly 300 meters underground. Luckily, we remembered to bring our jackets. And sweatshirts. The constant 10 degrees Celsius is chilly!

                        The ceiling is covered with thousands of stalactites hovering over big green pools. The path right along side had little to keep you from falling in (of course) and while the water didn’t look deep I was not in any mood to have Kaitlyn fall in. Or me, for that matter. We did have to argue with her about stepping all over the stalagmites.

                        After what seemed like an eternity of trying in vein to listen to the guide ramble on and on in French about these rocks dripping from overhead, he led us up some slippery stone steps to a room lit only with a few lights along the floor… the way a movie theater is lit once the film starts. Once we all packed into the room, those lights went out and it was completely black. Then music started and different select highlights were lit up. At the end, Bill and I both figured the whole room would light up so you could actually see it. Nope. On the website for the caves, they call this the thrilling climax. I’d call it their answer to the 3-d movie showing over at the Chartreuse distillery. During the, uh, show, Kaitlyn dropped her mimi. (giant pacifier she refuses to give up) It’s now become a permanent part of the display, since we couldn’t reach it.

                        The whole, apparently fact-filled tour lasted an hour. On the way out there is a sign reminding you “n’oubliez pas votre guide!” Don’t forget your guide! I thought it was a dumb place to put a sign reminding you to stick with your guide so you don’t get lost. It was a sign reminding you that the guide expects a tip. Bill figured it out. Although, given that he didn’t speak one word of English to us (he did to another group, to tell them not to take pictures of some disgusting little cave creatures in tanks), I don’t know that he earned it.

                        We decided to skip the trail outside the cave that went behind a waterfall. Kaitlyn was not really in any mood to listen and not knowing what kind of barrier (if any) would keep you from plunging off the cliff.

                        Instead, we told the GPS to take us home without getting on the toll roads. She led us on the most amazing route! We drove a road that literally hugged the edge of the mountain, with the gorge plunging farther than you could see off the other side of the road. A few places we drove under rocks hanging over the roadway. Just for “fun,” Bill made a u-turn so he could drive through a one-way tunnel that went right through the mountain. The whole thing was unlit. And only wide enough for one car. If you were crazy, you could stop right in the middle and turn your lights out and it would be completely dark… until the moment before you get hit when the headlights of another car appeared in your rear-view mirror. We didn’t stop.

                        I don’t know that I’d drive all the way back for another trip through the caves. The pictures probably will make it look spectacular. And it was great to see. But without having any idea what the guide was saying as he went on and on and on detracted from the experience.

                        But while we were there, I did pick up a tourism guide for the Isere region where we live. Sure, it’s all in French, but some of the pictures look amazing! We’ll have to check these places out in person….

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