Spéléologie demi journée - Grotte du Mounoï ©joOTCM (47)Speleologie-demi-journee-Grotte-du-Mounoi-joOTCM-26.mp4
Explore the Mounoï cave

Caving trip near Marseille

Are you ready to explore a cave? Spend half a day discovering caving. This year-round adventure is open to everyone and has plenty of surprises in store.

Published on 24 February 2023
Aurore Legrand
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An experience from Marseille

On the way to today’s activity: a caving trip in Marseille

Just a 45-minute drive from Marseille, in the Sainte-Baume Regional Nature Park, we arrived at the meeting point with only GPS coordinates to guide us. Our guide, Romuald, got us in the mood: let him guide us to the long-awaited site.

On arrival, we discovered a vast plot of land where we could park. So it was not far from the famous Le Castellet circuit that we left our vehicle to continue on foot. It’s hard to believe that such a place steeped in history exists just a stone’s throw from Marseille.

Already in our sportswear and trainers, Romuald provides us with our equipment: a wetsuit and a helmet with an integrated lamp that we put on at the site of the activity. It’s easy to see that being comfortable in your outfit is a necessity.

It’s a 15-minute walk to the site of today’s unusual activity. So it was with our helmets on and full of enthusiasm that we set off along the trail. During the approach walk, Romuald took the time to explain the fauna, flora and everything else we might come across on our way. A great teacher, he even takes the opportunity to test our knowledge of botany and animal footprints. Would you be able to recognise which animals have passed through here, but above all which trees and aromatic plants surround you? Hint: they’re used a lot in cooking in the south. Thyme? Rosemary? Juniper berries? We’re not going to tell you everything!


An original activity full of surprises

Discovering the cave

We’re gradually getting closer to our destination for the day: The Grotte du Vieux Mounoï, also known as Manon, in reference to Marcel Pagnol’s film Manon des Sources, shot here. And yes, Provence was the forerunner of Hollywood.

Right in the middle of the path, hidden by the vegetation, a large opening emerges beneath our feet, letting in fresh air. We were well on our way. We put on our equipment and the adventure can begin!

After a few metres, we were immediately immersed in the atmosphere, discovering all sorts of unusual life forms, including shells deposited thousands of years ago. The entrance is via a first cavity that takes us into the subterranean depths. Here, you can already see water trickling down the limestone and clay walls, forming sumptuous waterfalls over time.

The temperature is around 16 degrees, which is perfect in both winter and summer. Our torch illuminates some magnificent sculptures, each more impressive than the last. Stalagmites? Stalactites? Can you tell the difference?


Did you know?

Stalagmites take around a century to form a centimetre. That’s all it takes! So if you come across stalagmites over a metre high, just imagine how long it’s been since they were created. We’ll let you do the maths.

Unusual activity, immersive discovery

A real leap in time

It is not necessary to be athletic, or even to have experience in the field. If this original visit is an initiation, we have plenty of time to enjoy it. Without ropes we are free to move, always looking where our feet and heads intertwine.

Throughout our progress, we take a real journey through time. Sometimes on our stomachs, sometimes on our backs, we find ourselves on all fours, sometimes even standing to admire numerous cavities. We must always adapt to the walls that surround us in order to uncover all, or almost all, of their secrets.

For 3 hours, we are completely immersed in a parallel world that we lose track of time. The objective of the mission? Come away enriched by our knowledge and above all let ourselves be surprised by these settings. We can no longer count the number of times we have expressed our enthusiasm and astonishment.

Sometimes we close our eyes to imagine what life was like millions of years ago. We project ourselves onto these places already occupied by men from the Iron Age, in which life still continues to take shape today. This immersion in the heart of the earth also calls upon our senses and hitherto unknown perceptions. Finally, -40 is not the temperature but the depth (in meters) at which we are located when we arrive at the highlight. This grandiose space is well worth all the journey. One thing is certain, this experience did not leave us indifferent!

Ah, yes, I almost forgot, you shouldn’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty, it’s even the golden rule!

Good to know

Caving trip from Marseille

The activity supervised by a state-certified person is practiced from the age of 5. The group consists of a minimum of 5 people and a maximum of 12. Sports clothing is required. Also bring spare items. You can leave all your essential belongings in your vehicle.