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Edouard-Alfred Martel

The Founding Father

The history of the Gouffre de Padirac is intimately linked to that of Edouard-Alfred Martel.

lt wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that Padirac found its pedigree and began its path to fame. Before becoming the most famous Gouffre in Europe, there first had to be an encounter.

This encounter took place on 9 July 1889. That day Edouard-Alfred Martel, a lawyer by trade but impassioned by underground explorations, slowly descended the rungs of his ladder floating along the Gouffre’s wall. Although a confirmed explorer, he had no idea what he would find 75 meters below.

He had scarcely set his foot on the ground when Martel was struck by this place like no other. Equipped with candles and a magnesium lamp, Edouard-Alfred Martel and his 4 companions entered the lair of the Gouffre.

Many expeditions later, after having crossed the various narrow passages and stalagmite dams by canoe and foot, Martel was sure of one thing: the adventure was only beginning.

"No human being has gone into these depths before us, no one knows where we are going or what we are seeing, nothing so strangely beautiful has ever before been presented to us, spontaneously we all ask ourselves the same reciprocal question: Are we not dreaming?"

Edouard-Alfred Martel's quotation (1901)

Edouard-Alfred Martel (1901)



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