Les Grottes de Vallorbe. Photo Courtesy: Les Grottes de Vallorbe.

The Fairytale of the Vallorbe Caves

Around 150 million years ago, a sea covered the entire Jura region on the site of the current Vallorbe caves in the canton of Vaud. The complex geological history of the formation of the caves took another 120 million years.

Seven million years ago, the sea withdrew from the region when the African and European continents collided, and the mountain ranges of the Alps and the Jura came into being.

The River Orbe has two springs. The source of the Orbe superior (Orbe supérieure) is the lake of Rousses (lac des Rousses) in France and flows into the lake of Joux (lac de Joux) in Switzerland and then goes underground. There is also the underground Orbe, the Orbe inferior (Orbe inférieure), with rainwater and melted snow as a source.

The two Orbes come together in the Caves of Vallorbe; two-thirds of the water comes from the Orbe inferior. The Orbe is not the only underground river.

The large and small Grotte aux Fées (la grande et la petite Grotte aux Fées) have different watercourses and sources.

The underwater lake in the Caves of Vallorbe is the network of the Orbe and other sources. Underwater lighting shows that this lake is quiet and almost stationary. An enormous gallery stretches out over 600 metres.

This underground Cathedral (La cathédrale souterrain), the Great Hall (La Grande Salle), the stalactites, fistulous, limestone, and numerous stalagmites are the centre of the caves.

The underground Orbe flows between enormous boulders and creates works of art and galleries with stalactites, stalagmites, pillars, draperies, columns and fistulous.

A magical underground fairytale world. The Trésor des Fées houses the mineral collection and shows the underground mineral wealth.

(Source: G. Favre, Les Grottes de Vallorbe, Vallorbe; Les Grottes de Vallorbe ).

The Orbe shows up again