Jay and I went geocaching this morning. The cache itself was pleasant enough – a short hike up a woodland bridal-way lead us to a quiet but unusual spot at the intersection of five wide, well trod dirt tracks. We did the cache – a really well stocked number. In the hint – not the main description it mentions that it’s on the site of an old underground quarry. We went to explore and quickly found the entrance…
The first thing that struck me was how open it was. In the UK, a feature like this would probably have been boarded up for Health and Safety reasons, or turned into a tourist attraction. This place was open and probably left untouched for a good number of years.
Thankfully, I had a had a head torch in my bag. It looked quite safe, so I went in. Jay chose to stay at the entrance. The man made cave opened up into a network of tunnels and rooms – all of a uniform height. I only went about 100m in but it seemed to stretch a bit further. Quite an amazing place. Near the entrance sat a circa 1920s car – burned out and slowly being turned into nothing but rust. Bats flew all around me and markings – some of which looked quite old – adorned the walls – not mindless scrawling, more functional markings. The most remarkable feature though was an altar type thing ornately carved into the rock face (pictured above). A Christian design (cross) with military details.
I’ve just researched what I can (in French) and have found that it was initially a limestone quarry and was a station for the French army during WWI. The chapel was build in three stages by the soldiers and it is one of several underground chapels in the area. Also nearby was an underground hospital as used in the second world war.
Once again, geocaching took me to somewhere new, somewhere amazing that I probably wouldn’t have discovered at all on my own. I took some more photos with a flash camera that I’ll upload later – including one of a bat!