This is the beginning of a journey outside time. Going down the steps, you have just walked beneath an enormous column lying on its side; scientific analysis of the concretions that formed on the column—and are thus much more recent—all reached the limits of modern dating methods, that is to say nearly 700,000 years.
Incredible, isn't it? You are thus in a very old geological and hydrogeological system. The limestone formations in which the caves have formed are called karsts.
In this chamber, you can see fine stalactites and stalagmites formed by the interaction between rock and water. They sometimes join to form a column. Indeed, all the sights that you will see during the visit are the result of the slow dissolving of limestone by water made acid by the carbon dioxide that it absorbed from the atmosphere.
Water runs underground through cracks and micro-fissures in the ground. This is first destructive, making cavities and then flows on down into the ground and there, slowly, often drop by drop, forms structures. It has created the fantastic landscape that you are going to see. Here, most of the geological formations consist of deposits of calcium carbonate (dissolved limestone) that form calcite. This chamber contains two particularly noteworthy 'monuments': near the vault is the drapery called 'the royal coat', the name given to it by the great French writer André Breton, leader of the surrealist movement, in one of his books, L'amour fou. He compared it to the coat of a Hawaiian chief, sparkling under the spotlights !... What imagination !!
And above all this marvellous pillar formed by the joining of a stalactite and a stalagmite with a circumference of 16 metres today!!! And it all started with a few drops of water ……
The skeleton of the cave bear was found in this chamber. You can see the photo. The skeleton is at Montpellier university.