2023lemasdazil@scourbet (1)South entrance to the Mas d'Azil cave
©Sébastien COURBET
Mas d'Azil caveThe majestic

Mas d’Azil cave

By destination expert Elodie

Ariège’s must-see site, the Grotte du Mas d’Azil is world-famous. And do you know why? It’s the only cave in Europe crossed by a road on either side for 400 meters. It was also aplace of habitation for prehistoric man, the site giving its name to a Prehistoric culture “the Azilian”.

Would you like to discover more highlights of this magical site? Then follow the guide!

Inside and out

A surprise awaits you

No, you’re not dreaming! The road out of the village of Mas d’Azil does indeed pass through a tunnel in the middle of this imposing, graying limestone cliff.

So there you are, nose to nose with the northern entrance to the Grotte du Mas d’Azil and the river that gushes out of it. The road tunnel has been there for over a century and a half, so yes, let me reassure you, you can rush right through it!

The crossing is surprising and sometimes even frightening when you’re driving… It’s a first encounter with the beautiful Ariègeoise. Keep your eyes peeled for a dazzling exit from the tunnel… and that’s just the beginning!



Astonishing dimensions

On foot, you remain hypnotized, aware that you’re privileged to make this beautiful discovery. Rest on the grass facing the river… Your gaze is caught by the impressive porch of this mysterious Grotto of gigantic dimensions.

The green footbridge 70m high, contrasting on the grey rock… Kèsako? I’ll let you in on a secret: the most daring bungee jump on sunny days!

As if intoxicated, your eyes follow the curves of the wall and you don’t know where to put them. Jackdaws twirl in the sun. The Arize River, calm, undulates and flows inevitably towards the interior of the Grotte… This is your next stop!


In the heart of the earth

The urge to follow the watercourse and become part of the picture amidst the towering rocks is growing. So step forward onto the wooden footbridge, skirting the river and gradually entering the shadows. Listen to the sound of the water, the echo of children’s laughter and the creak of the wood beneath your feet… Let’s face it: you’re very small in the face of this ever more beautiful and overwhelming nature.

Your eyes will gradually adapt to the darkness. You’re in your own bubble, ready to discover the secrets of our ancestors.


An unusual visit

Wow. You’re plunging into an exceptional underground universe! The play of blue and pink lights bewitches you straight away. The freshness settles on your cheeks. Let yourself be guided through the different galleries… it’s a real journey back in time. Lison, Anne-Sophie or Jean-Yves… your guide will be fascinating. Time has stood still since the time of the Cro-Magnons.

The hour-long visit will go by (too) quickly, so pay close attention: where are the stalactites? How was the cave formed? Where are the habitat areas? Personally, I love the “temple room” for its extraordinary dimensions. Its colorful lighting takes me on a real journey to the center of the earth for sure!

Open your eyes (and ears) wide, plenty of great surprises await.

Extending the experience ...

On your return outside the Grotto, there are several possibilities:

  • discover the craftsmen on the north side with the must-see Fabrique des créatrices and theglassblower ;
  • do a hike on the Grotto’s heights: there’s something for every level, from the short family stroll to the more athletic corniche;
  • lunch with a view of the porch: the Maison de la Grotte welcomes you in a unique setting for small-scale catering based on fresh, local produce. Prefer a picnic? That’s possible too!


Don’t forget! The entrance ticket to the Grotto entitles you to a free visit to the musée de la Préhistoire in the village. Located less than 2km from the Grotto, this museum houses collections of objects found on the site.

It aims to help you discover the modernism and know-how of the cave’s occupants through their remains, some of which are of great technical and artistic prowess.

A priceless collection of remarkable pieces including the famous Azilian pebbles!