The Gouffre of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

With an average total flow of 630 million m³ per year, this source is the first in France and one of the largest in the world, due to its volume of water flow.

Fresh and peaceful in summer, bubbling and impetuous in spring and autumn, the source, true whim of nature, has not ceased to intrigue curious and researchers since ancient times.

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The source results from the emergence of a huge underground network. The water leaping at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse comes from the infiltration of rainwater and snow melting from the south of Mont Ventoux, the Monts de Vaucluse and the Montagne de Lure which represent an “impluvium” of 1,240 km² and whose only exit remains Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.

While the spectacular floods of spring and fall create astonishment and admiration of visitors (90 m³ per second), the steady flow during the summer and during the rain-free seasons remains more enigmatic for specialists. The speleologists have highlighted the existence of collectors, real natural drains feeding the Fontaine de Vaucluse.

The end of the 19th century saw the first attempt to dive the drowned duct from the source unfolded. More than a century of bold explorations today make it possible to partially understand the mystery of its functioning and the origin of the waters.

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