No, it’s not a scene from Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire. In fact, these other-worldly water basins are found hidden in the south of France, deep under the surface of the Rhône-Alpes mountain region.
Funnily enough though, the story of the iconic La Grotte de St Marcel d’Ardèche plays a whole lot like a Disney flick, if you ask me. These amazing hidden caves were actually discovered by chance back in 1836 by a cunning hunter from Aiguèze.
The hunter was using the ferret technique, which as you may have guessed, involves using ferrets to clear rabbit holes in order to capture game. Unfortunately, this particular hunter’s ferret got a little side tracked and stumbled upon a hidden cave system now known as the iconic grotto de St Marcel d’Ardèche.
Scientifically, this cave area is known as a Rimstone, a type of cave formation that forms as part of a stone dam. The Rimstone is made up of calcite that builds up to form cave pools that kind of look like stairs.
These days budding explorers can venture deep into the grotto and undertake guided tours of the expansive system that’s filled with high halls and water basins.
(Images: Grotte de Saint Marcel d’Ardèche)