Gouffre de Saint-Sauveur, a river resurgence with emerald waters

The Gouffre de Saint-Sauveur is a 25m wide basin that boasts the most amazing emerald waters!

Gouffre de Saint-Sauveur- Emeral waters of the resurgence of the river Ouysse
Gouffre de Saint-Sauveur- Emeral waters of the resurgence of the river Ouysse

This resurgence of the river Ouysse is located near Calès, a picturesque village of Lot in the Regional Park of Causses du Quercy.

The Ouysse, swollen with the infiltration waters of the Causse de Gramat, feeds this little basin nestled in the lush greenery.

Its crystal clear waters rest on a sandy base and capture the sky and trees’ reflections, creating an extraordinary emerald hew reminiscent of a tropical lagoon’s.

Ouysse, the mysterious river

L’Ouysse is not an ordinary river; indeed, this tributary of the Dordogne flows underground for most of its course.

The many speleological explorations could only map part of its underground course; the canyons in which it rushes are unfortunately much too deep and inaccessible.

As a result, its exact layout is still a big mystery and its length of 42kms an estimate!

L’Ouysse resurfaces a few times before it plunges again into the depths of the rock.

The river Ouysse resurgences

L’Ouysse rises at 378m of altitude, near the village of Anglars in the north of the Lot, in the foothills of the Massif Central.

Resurgence of the Ouysse River at the Gouffre de Saint-Sauveur
Resurgence of the Ouysse River at the Gouffre de Saint-Sauveur

It then flows for 9km in the open air through the Ségala and Limargue regions where many streams feed it.

Once in the village of Thémines, it rushes into the depths of the Causse de Gramat where it carves impressive canyons in the limestone rock.

Many subterranean streams feed the underground Ouysse, which is also known as Rivière des Vitarelles.

However, the little river resurfaces a few times downstream in the form of resurgences; Gouffre de Puymessens when it floods, Fontbelle, Saint-Sauveur and Cabouy.

Resurgence of Cabouy

The resurgence of Cabouy is in the Vallée de la Pannonie, 3kms from the episcopal city of Rocamadour.

From its course in the open air, millions of years ago, the river has left large dry valleys, such as La Pannonie, which constitute the typical Causses landscape.

One of the river’s branches resurfaces in the Gouffre de Saint Sauveur, in the commune of Calès, 1km from Cabouy.

However, Cabouy is where the Ouysse resumes its aerial course; it then merges with the water from the branch of Saint-Sauveur 2km downstream.

From there it continues its course, swollen with the waters of the Alzou before flowing into the Dordogne near the village of Lacave.

The fortified mills along the Ouysse

Two fortified mills were once built along the little river.

The Moulin de Caoulet is today a fish farm. However, the Moulin de Cougnaguet has been kept and restored to its original state and is open to the public.

An essential detour when in the Lot!

Lot department
Coordinates: Lat 44.792706 – Long 1.569757

Credits photos Flickr album© Lot-46

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