Worth the detour in the Basque Country: a visit to the Grotte de Sare
The Basque Country boasts several prehistoric caves open to the public. Among them, Grotte de Sare is renowned for its megalithic park and museum. Discover it!
Visit the cave
In Sare, a typical Basque village awarded the “Plus beau village de France” label, the Sare cave or “Lezea” (meaning “cave” in Basque) can be visited as it was two million years ago. Hidden away on the slopes of the Atxuria mountain and occupied during prehistoric times, the Lezea cave is famous for its gallery, which plunges 30 meters underground, and its entrance porch, one of the largest in Aquitaine. This is the main cave of a site that includes four others: Urio Gaina, Urio Behera, Leze ttiki and Faardiko harria.
After a short introduction to the caves, a guide takes you into the depths of the “Bear Cave” for a guided tour lasting around an hour. The tour covers two levels of galleries and is 900 metres long. A sound and light trail leads to the prehistoric habitat site and the lower gallery at the bottom of the cave. The lighting of the cave, supported by musical accompaniment, is a great success. The guide covers topics as varied as geology, the life of prehistoric man, cave animals (cave bears and bats in particular), mythology and Basque culture.
The megalithic park
In addition to a guided tour of the cave, the megalithic park offers a reconstruction of monuments representative of the region’s protohistory, from the Neolithic to the Metal Age. Dolmens, tumuli and cromlechs are presented at life-size, accompanied by explanatory panels on the funerary rites practiced in the Basque mountains.
Immerse yourself in the prehistoric era! The Musée des Grottes de Sare traces the evolution of mankind from prehistory to the present day. It features an important collection of archaeological objects discovered during excavations carried out on the site: flints, scrapers, arrowheads, reindeer antlers, human bones, funerary urns, ceramics, bronze axes, and more. It’s also an opportunity to delve deeper into some of the topics covered during the guided tour, such as geology, the early Basques, myths and legends, and the role of bats in the local ecosystem.
DID YOU KNOW? 10,000 years ago, the Sare caves were occupied by cave bears during hibernation periods. Today, the caves are home to 13 species of bat, protected by the Conservatoire Régional d’Espaces Naturels d’Aquitaine. Two cameras installed in the galleries transmit images in real time to two screens in the reception building and museum.
– The Sare caves can be visited all year round.
– Access: 64310 Sare, on the D306. At Sare, head for the Lizarrieta pass.
– Prices from €6 to €10. Admission includes a guided tour of the cave, as well as access to the site museum and megalithic park.
– The number of people per visit is limited. It is advisable to buy tickets in advance at www.grottesdesare.fr. Tel. 05 59 54 20 14.
– Bring closed shoes and warm clothing, as the temperature in the cave is 14°C. Picnic tables nearby.
Things to see and do near Sare cave :
– The village of Sare: its traditional Basque houses, pelota court and Saint-Martin church have earned it a place among France’s most beautiful villages.
– The Musée du gâteau basque: find out all about this typical Basque pastry filled with black cherry jam or custard.
– The Rhune train: an authentic cogwheel train takes you to the summit of the Basque country’s legendary mountain.
– Read also: Which caves to visit in the Basque Country? Discover the caves of Isturitz and Oxocelhaya!
photo: grotte de Sare Porche © Grottes de Sare (AADT Béarn Pays Basque)