Unesco-protected cave in southern France on sale from €300,000

Cova Bastera is a fortified cave dating back to the reign of Louis XIV, which receives 25,000 visitors a year

The Cova Bastera grotto is situated in the town of Villefranche-de-Conflent
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A private cave situated in southern France which receives around 25,000 visitors per year and is protected by Unesco is up for sale for €300,000-€360,000.

The Cova Bastera is a fortified cave situated 30 metres above the RN116 road in Villefranche-de-Conflent (Pyrénées-Orientales), and can currently be visited for free by members of the public.

The town of Villefranche-de-Conflent. Credit: trabantos / Shutterstock

It was designed by celebrated architect Vauban, under the reign of Louis XIV, and is currently the only European cave on the Unesco list. It was initially used as a lookout post over the Vallée du Cady, helping the town to defend itself.

There are 800 metres of chambers, peppered with animal remains, to explore inside, and much beyond that which has not yet been made fully accessible to humans.

Some 124 steps bring visitors up to the cave galleries, which maintain a temperature of 14⁰C all year round.

The cave is also located close to two other Unesco sites: the Tour de la Viguerie ramparts and the mediaeval town of Villefranche-de-Conflent.

Its owner, Bernard Castillo, is suffering from health problems and has therefore decided to sell after nearly 40 years of ownership. It was his father who originally bought the chambers and adapted them for public visits, with lighting and a sound system.

“I want €300,000 for it. I will miss all the compliments from visitors after their visit,” he told France 3.

As well as having the rare opportunity to own a French cave – in the last five years, only three other such structures have entered the market – the buyer will not have to pay local tax on it.

Having around “30,000 visitors a year is something. Many small caves in France do not have as many visitors,” Roselyne Aulner of Anecat, the organisation which brings together the owners of grottos and caves used for tourism, told Le Parisien.

“It benefits from an exceptional commercial location very close to the heart of the town of Villefranche, which is quite rare,” she added.

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