History and Creation
The Pit of Padirac is a monumental entry of natural cavity, of 35 meters
diameter approximately, at the bottom of which, with 103 meters of depth, a river runs
underground which course part of a wide-area network of more than 40 kilometers of development.
The formation of the pit is due to a collapse of the vault at one undetermined period. We simply know
that there existed already at the 3rd century of our era. In 1907, there existed still a small wall in
dry stones and remainders of an ancient hearth on the ground of the detrital slope of the pit. Armand Viré
thought that these vestiges had been left by defeated of the One hundred Year old War. « Ashes,
coals, remains of kitchen and weapons were found there » and were exposed thereafter to
public in a window at the entrance of pit. He was inhabited at the end of the 14th century like in the end
16th century. At that time, according to Guyon of Malleville, the men benefit from the climatic conditions
place to extract some from salpetre. The speleologist Edouard-Alfred Martel was the discoverer of the river
underground of the pit of Padirac.
In 1897 and 1898, Armand Viré was charged to arrange the pit. The metal staircase was designed and manufactured
by the house Carpenter and Bush of Puteaux. The first tourist visits took place 1st
November 1898, but the official unveiling was organized on April 10th, 1899 under the presidency of the state minister
of education Georges Leygues. Today 1.1 km of galleries, on the 40 explored km, can
to be visités.
By 1900, electric lighting was installed under the direction of Mr. engineer Roumazeilles. In 1906,
a small power plant fed the pit. Since the years 1930, the access to the underground river
is done by elevator, the being done remainder of the visit on foot (approximately 1,300 m) and in the boat (700 m). The length of
the underground river is of 2,400 meters and its depth varies from 50 cm to 4 m, the temperature of water is
constant with 10.5 °C, that of the cave is always of 13 °C.
Padirac holds the record of frequentation for underground tourism in France: more than 350,000 visitors
a year with a record of 460,000 entries in 1991. 85 people, as a majority of the seasonal workers, are employed
by the speleological development company of the pit of Padirac.