Aven Armand – a Journey to the Centre of Earth

Do you remember reading Jules Verne’s “A Journey to the Centre of Earth” and dreaming of taking this journey, descending all the way down there, meeting the weird creatures and plants born out of the imagination of this great French visionary and writer? Well, this is all possible, right there in the South of France, between the canyons of the rivers Tarn and La Jonte, thanks to visual mapping, sound and light, and of course the unbelievable beauty created by Nature. Aven Armand is a cave that you should visit if you happen to be in Southern France. I’ve been to many caves around the world and this one is really unique.

Read more: 10 Irresistibly charming villages in Gorges du Tarn. If you are staying longer in Southern France, you will get ideas to visit some cute little villages in the Tarn Canyon.

If you wanna road-trip in the region, here’s my 7-day itinerary in the Tarn Canyon.

Jelly-fish-like formations in the Aven Armand Cave in France

How to get to Aven Armand?

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to go by public transport to the cave. If you are travelling in this part of France, you are probably having a car, your own one or a rented one. The best way to reach Aven Armand is if you go up via one of the winding, full of hairpin turns, roads from either the Tarn Canyon or the La Jonte Canyon. The views will be amazing down on the canyons, and I must admit this is not a journey for the faint-hearted or the less experienced driver, but absolutely worth taking it. We went up the Tarn Canyon at Les Vignes, taking D16. There were some moments when my heart sank into my sandals, an example of literally breathtaking views.

Alternatively, If you are coming from Florac, taking D16 the other way, you will be travelling directly through the gentle rolling hills of the Causses, so no hairpins, no hearts in the shoes, but also no mesmerizing views. Another option is to travel from Le Rozier via D996 along the Gorge de la Jonte, which is also quite beautiful, and then via D63.

Aven Armand is located in the Causses Mejan, one of 4 plateaus (causses), which form the Regional Park of the Great Causses (Les Grands Causses). Together with Cevennes National Park, they are part of the the Causses and Cevennes, which are inscribed on the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites .

Distance to Aven Armand from:

  • Millau – 43 km (1 hr)
  • Sainte-Enimie – 22 km (30 min)
  • Florac – 31 km (45 min)
a field with a sinkhole in the middle lined up with rocks, the original entrance of Aven Armand in France
The sinkhole where Louis Armand descended into the cave in 1897

History of Aven Armand

The cave was discovered by Louis Armand who was the right hand of the father of the speleology in France – Edouard Martel. On 19 September 1897 he descended 75 m down in what from above looked like a sinkhole. On 11 June 1927 the cave was first open for visitors. At the beginning the visitors did not need to descend via the sinkhole but could walk down a 208 m long tunnel, especially dug to make the cave accessible for public. Today, visitors are taken down by a funicular.

cave formations in the form of gigantic jelly-fishes in the Aven Armand Cave in France

Aven Arman was formed through erosion and corrosion of the solid limestone and concretion. It all begun some 200 million years ago in the Jurassic period.

a carriage of a funicalur with people getting in
The funicular that will take you the heart of the cave

What to expect form Aven Armand?

The journey to the center of the sinkhole take a couple of minutes. Today, you don’t need to walk down, there’s a convenient funicular that will take you to the heart of the cave. You can visit Aven Armand only with a guided tour. It takes about an hour to see everything and to complete the tour. We had a very passionate guide telling the story of the cave and explaining what we were seeing. You will learn about all the unique formations. There are also brochures available in a few languages of what the guide is telling in French, so you won’t be missing anything.

A gigantic cauliflower or jelly-fish like formation in the Aven Arman Cave in France

With the help of colorful lights and visual mapping the weird creatures are coming to life. You’ll pass through the Virgin Forest, you’ll see the gigantic organ, the cauliflower and the jelly fishes. My favorite forms were the stack of American pancakes. They don’t call them like that, but look at them and tell me, don’t they look just like pancakes? I am missing only the maple syrup…

cave formations in the form of stacked pancakes in the Aven Armand Cave in France
Pancakes or no pancakes?

Aven Armand offers a truly unique experience and I can’t enough recommend visiting it. Modern technology meets a natural wonder and the result is simply magical.

Formations in the form of hanging drapes in the Aven Armand Cave in France
The famous drapes

Practical info about visiting Aven Armand

You can buy tickets at the visitor’s center. They give you a ticket with a certain color and then they’ll call all people that have tickets with the same color to board the carriage.

Outside of the visitor’s center, there is a lovely café with a beautiful view where you can get some refreshments while waiting to board. We visited on a very hot summer day, so we loved being able to get some drinks on site.

Beautiful calcerous formation in the Aven Armand cave in France
  • Prices: A regular ticket costs 12,50 EUR and there are different tiers of discounts: for students (under age of 25) – 10,50 EUR, students (under age of 20) – 10 EUR, children (under 14) – 8,30 EUR, and kids under 4 do not need to pay.
  • Opening times: from 1 April till 14 July and from 1 September to 3 November – 10 am to 12 am, 1:30 pm to 5 pm; from 15 July to 31 August – 10 am to 6 pm
  • Accessibility: Unfortunately the cave is not accessible for people with reduced mobility and you can’t get in in a wheel char.
  • Other info: Dogs aren’t allowed unless they are small and can be carried or are in a bag.

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an interior of a cave lit up by colorful lights with overlay text: Aven Armand - the most beautiful cave in Europe

About Daniela

Daniela is the creator and writer of this travel blog. A writer by nature and occupation and traveller by heart, Daniela will take you to all forgotten corners of Europe and even beyond. She travels with her partner, but his only role is to be the greatest fan of this blog. To learn more, check out the About section.

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