Discover France and Spain, Issue 13, March 2020

Page 48


Just a stone’s throw from neolithic France For centuries, hikers and pilgrims have sought solace among the geological wonders of the Causses du Quercy national park. And for almost a century, the Hôtel Restaurant des Grottes has welcomed them to stay at the heart of it all. Located at the foot of one of southern France’s most historic caves, it offers a tranquil place to stay and hearty local food. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: HÔTEL RESTAURANT DES GROTTES


or exploring the Causses du Quercy national park, you couldn’t be better located than at the Hôtel des Grottes. The hotel and restaurant are named after the Pech Merle grotto; formed over thousands of years by an underground river carving the limestone rock and creating unique subterranean channels. “In the 1920s, Roger Théron decided to take over the family business, together with his young wife Marthe David, who was one of the first to discover the Pech Merle Cave,” explains Clelia Leroux. “A few years later, they built the first four rooms and ‘Maison Théron’ became the Hôtel des Grottes.”

Organic cuisine in a scenic spot Since the fifties, the Théron family have provided warm dishes, and even warmer hospi48  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

tality. The restaurant’s terrace overlooks some of the region’s most peaceful spots, such as the limestone Cabrerets cliffs and the nearby River Célé. Guests can make the most of the sun with breakfast on the terrace: “Every morning, we serve organic local produce in a simple and authentic setting,” says Clelia. The restaurant offers a range of regional dishes; not to mention the long list of local beers and wine from the Quercy region itself. “Our restaurant accommodates up to 150 people, so we can also help with event planning.”

to each marking - some of which were created more than 25,000 years ago. Here, the geological heritage of the Causses du Quercy is very much a lived experience. “Even the nearby Château des Anglais is built into the bedrock,” explains Clelia.

Explore the region of Occitanie Whether you’re hoping to retreat into the natural caves, or spend an afternoon overlooking the cliffs from the pool; a stay at the Hôtel des Grottes is the perfect base for exploring the Occitan part of southern France. There are a number of stunning excursions for exploring off the beaten track on foot, bike, horse or canoe: embark on a seven-day hike of 200 kilometres through the Dordogne and the vineyards of Cahors; or a 175-kilometre hike along the river Célé, which is ideal for a long weekend.

If stones could speak The Pech Merle cave is famous for its neolithic murals of mammoths, bison and horses etched into the calcareous rock. Over time, the geological formations have added texture

The hotel and restaurant will open again on 8 April until 30 September 2020.

Articles from Discover France and Spain, Issue 13, March 2020