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  1. #1
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    Planning a trip to the Lot

    Having enjoyed Malin, apart from the swelly, lumpy bits that made me feel sick, it's time to start planning for something more civilised.

    We had intended to visit the Lot 2 years ago but couldn't for obvious reasons, but next year this will be the objective.

    Just looking for information really on good/bad times to visit, places to stay, best options for gas assuming we don't drag the majority of what we neeed with us, not sure how many will end up going yet or mix of OC to CCR.

    Would definitely want to do some decent swims into the Ressel, but even high level planning suggests a shit load of gas will be required for bailout.

  2. #2
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Personally I'd avoid summer. It's ridiculously hot and very busy. Not just with divers but tourists in general. I don't like people, I don't particularly like other divers so when I go I tend to go in the quiet times. My absolute favourite times of year are February and late October/early November. The downside is that it becomes very weather dependant, although I've had some beautiful spells at those times, and usually limited for accommodation choices. But then summer is so busy you're also limited. But even if you get rained out some caves aren't that affected, some are. Dry weather can also bring other problems with low water. Vis can be utter dogshit and low water makes somewhere like Trou Madame a very long day. Depending on what your cave experience is then time of year doesn't matter, there is always somewhere to get in despite the weather. If you are happy with UK type sump diving there is plenty of choice if the resurgences are rained out.

    I never commit fully to CCR on Lot trips. I always take enough kit that I can do OC diving. There are plenty of sites that become a sufferfest in CCR and stages, some sites that are simply not physically passable. Most of the caves there aren't really worth the effort of CCR, I'd go OC all day long apart from the Ressel, St Sauveur and maybe Landenouse and St Georges but they're both reasonably doable on OC for a decent swim. The big benefit of CCR is that you aren't dicking about filling cylinders at the end of the day and nobody is hitting you with a 2-300 euro bill at the end of the week which I've seen a load of times. When your bill has been 20 quid it makes it even better.

    You can go a massive long way in Ressel with a pair of 80's as bailout and maybe a set up dive to drop some oxygen and 50. To be fair, you can do a massive long way on a pair of 12's and a couple of 80's as well.

    I know there are a few places offering catered accommodation for cave divers but I'd give it a miss. The Lot is one of the greatest food areas on the planet, you can generally pick a place at random and get incredibly good food. It's a real waste of opportunity to go catered. There are also some fantastic bars in Gramat. The Cafe de France and the Cafe des Sports can become carnage, they are wonderful.

    And not that I'm biased but the Lot makes a great first trip but it's not even close to the best diving in France.

    https://www.lulu.com/shop/stuart-mor...e=1&pageSize=4
    Last edited by notdeadyet; 19-08-2022 at 11:04 PM.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  3. #3
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    Thanks Stuart, plan is to take SM oc for flexibility for sure. Will also aim to be out of school holidays too.

    Might invest in your book too for another trip option, Lot just feels like a rite of passage and bucket list tick.

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    Established TDF Member Chrisch's Avatar
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    My friend Pat runs trips if you want someone else to do the logistics. Oli is a mate and does air fills and will help. The Relais des Gourmands is a nice place to stay and good food and Suzy is English if your French is not so hot.

    https://abyss-uwe.com/stages-de-plon...uterraine-lot/

    Must get back soon.
    We give £350m a week to the EU. Let's give it to Dido Harding instead.

  5. #5
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisch View Post
    Oli is a mate and does air fills and will help.
    Is his place what used to be Andre Grimal's?

    I miss the adventure of when I first started to go, there was zero infrastructure other than a few local divers who had compressors in their garages. Andre was an absolute lifesaver when he set that place up. I remember driving almost as far as Tolouse on the scrounge for air.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  6. #6
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonG View Post
    Thanks Stuart, plan is to take SM oc for flexibility for sure. Will also aim to be out of school holidays too.

    Might invest in your book too for another trip option, Lot just feels like a rite of passage and bucket list tick.
    No question the Lot is the perfect first trip. I wouldn't go anywhere else. It is a great intro because the caves are reliably good, piss easy to locate and the infrastructure is brilliant comapred to the other regions.

    The rest of France has some incredible diving but would probably be disappointing as an intro. The Ardeche and the Herault really are good but the diving is hard. Lots of long carries, difficult access, sites are very hard to find as they are out in the wilds and quite a few need a 4x4 to reach. I've spent some very long days wandering around what looks like a blazing hot moonscape trying to find the right sump entrance and ended up doing maybe only 3 or 4 dives in a week. It's rewarding but if that was your first time in France you'd probably never go back.

    If you can get hold of it then I'd recommend Frank Vasseur's 2 volume Herault guide. I don't know if it is still in print though.

    For the Lot, I really recommend buying Caves & Cave Diving by Guy de Lavaur. It's a very old book but it sometimes appears in caving shops (there are a few on Abebooks at the moment). Lavaur was one of the first people to explore the Lot in the 1950's and it's a brilliant read. Gives you a lot of the background and context of the area.

    It sounds obvious but if you don't already know French then I really recommend at least someone in the group learning a decent level. For a start it makes life easier but more importantly the locals will want to talk to you. They are an incredible source of knowledge, especially the old ones. The French are very different to the Brits. They don't sit on their arses watching telly, even the old people go on adventures and are only too happy to tell you about it. I've found so much interesting stuff from talking to the locals, loads of little springs that aren't recorded, caves with small sumps, wells that cave fed, that kind of thing.

    Another book I'd recommend is the Cadogan travel guide for the area. It gives a good background to the history and culture and it's also written with a lot of humour.

    And buy the IGN maps for the area. The newsagents in Gramat sells them. You can access online through the Geoportail website but you can't beat a paper map. And the French coordinate system takes a lot of getting used to.
    Last edited by notdeadyet; 20-08-2022 at 10:26 AM.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  7. #7
    Established TDF Member Chrisch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notdeadyet View Post
    Is his place what used to be Andre Grimal's?

    I miss the adventure of when I first started to go, there was zero infrastructure other than a few local divers who had compressors in their garages. Andre was an absolute lifesaver when he set that place up. I remember driving almost as far as Tolouse on the scrounge for air.
    Yes, that is the one. André used to have a contract with the local Gendarmerie which kept him solvent. I don't know if Oli kept it. I have lost touch with Oli over the years due to all the life that gets in the way of diving. He was in France some of the time and back in Belgium another part of the year but I seem to remember his missus got fed up with it. So much to catch up.
    We give £350m a week to the EU. Let's give it to Dido Harding instead.

  8. #8
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisch View Post
    Yes, that is the one. André used to have a contract with the local Gendarmerie which kept him solvent. I don't know if Oli kept it. I have lost touch with Oli over the years due to all the life that gets in the way of diving. He was in France some of the time and back in Belgium another part of the year but I seem to remember his missus got fed up with it. So much to catch up.
    I think Andre sold the hotel as well. I always enjoyed staying there, it was cheap but decent and the food was great. Plus he'd give you a key to store your kit in the shop.

    Been years since I've been, I always end up going to the east first whenever I've been over the last few years and it's an absolute ballche trying to get cross country. It's got me thinking about a cheap flight to Tolouse in Feb and renting a car and some cylinders for a few days.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  9. #9
    Established TDF Member Steve Clark's Avatar
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    Oli is good for gas. Based in Gramat. https://www.thecavetobe.com/en

    He's local for all the northern caves. St Georges / Cabouy / Truffe / St Saveur. I'd suggest basing yourself close to your gas source, gives you options for filling at either end of the day for trips further away / caves on the Lot/Cele (Ressel, Landenouse). Would be annoying to drive 1hr each way just for gas.

    We've been surveying St Georges for the last decade. Please feel free to join the group, it has the latest survey info on it. There is the main survey at 1:1000 on a massive sheet (Oli has it on his wall) and there is also a 'tourist' version that prints at A3 and has more detail in the first 400m to the big aven at the Salle de Lavaur https://www.facebook.com/groups/835902993089768

    To be honest, for a first trip the big hits for really good vis should be Ressel & Truffe.

    St Georges is more often 3-5m vis, except at the end of summer following a period of low rainfall when it occasionally hits 10m+. It has an interesting profile. Down to 30m and then gradually rising to surface at the SDL. Beyond 400m you can go a long way on not much gas, it's all very shallow until the drop-off to 75m at around 1000m

    St Saveur has a current warning about slope collapse on the way in. It's quite restricted around 21m and is on a massive gravel slope. If that goes, it's game over.

    Padirac is an interesting and huge show cave. Worth a visit, but awful in summer. Far, far too busy. Queueing for hours.

    I'd also recommend turning off your sat nav. It was loads more fun finding your way and ending up in small villages / towns. Different bakery every day.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Clark View Post
    Oli is good for gas. Based in Gramat. https://www.thecavetobe.com/en He's local for all the northern caves. St Georges / Cabouy / Truffe / St Saveur. I'd suggest basing yourself close to your gas source, gives you options for filling at either end of the day for trips further away / caves on the Lot/Cele (Ressel, Landenouse). Would be annoying to drive 1hr each way just for gas.
    He's an absolute sweetheart. Great guy, thoughtful diver, genuine gentleman!


 
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