In 1922, Jean Maury, who was then an archaeologist at Laugerie Basse, noticed a small natural terrace halfway up the great cliff of the Grand Roc.
He quickly climbed up to discover a small crack giving way to a slow flowing spring. Unaware of the origin of this flow, this inquiring mind rapidly imagined that a hidden cavity might reveal the source. After two years of hard work and a last mining foray on April 29, 1924, Jean Maury, his sister and daughter, entered the untouched cave.
“Shouts of joy and the national anthem first saluted the discovery. We could admire marvellous stalactites, whereas other strange forms, very clear and surprising, looked as if they had never been seen by anyone before, and others seemed to come straight out of unrealizable dreams – until the candles we used to light up the way began to be too small for us to continue. But at what point had we entered the cave? We passed this column again with the form of a cross, which we identified as the central point. After groping along for a while, we heard our parents calling and followed their voices to find, at last, the fox hole through which we had come. Drained of all anxiety, we presented ourselves proudly in our soaked clothes spattered with mud, filled with enthusiasm by what we had seen.”
The Grand Roc cave opened in 1927; following the discovery, 3 years were necessary to install the interior and the exterior of the cave.
The first visitors only had candles, hence a quite picturesque visit, during which not much could be seen. Acetylene lamps came later and in 1934 the electricity was installed. In 1993, the lighting of the cave was entirely reorganized. Engineers managed to conciliate the various features of the site (fragility, difficult access, necessary preservation) with a genuine artistic mise en scène of all crystallizations.