"Caving holds a special place in outdoor sports. The etymology of the word suggests its scientific origin. In fact, it is only relatively recently that the study of caves has become a science. Édouard- Alfred Martel (1859-1938), considered today as the father of speleology, laid the first foundations while carrying out many sometimes perilous explorations. In 1888, a year which was recognized by the French Federation of Speleology as the date of birth of the discipline, he made the first crossing of a limestone massif, that of Bramabiau (Gard), from the loss of his river at the exit of the chasm.
In the middle of the 20th century, exploration made a prodigious leap forward, due to the improvement of techniques in several fields, vertical progression on a rope and no longer on a ladder, underground diving, topography, clearing ... At the same time, leisure caving was developing where the attraction of this hidden face of the earth plays a big role with its astonishing landscapes, its concretions, stalactites, stalagmites, eccentrics, draperies ... But the search for new networks is always a real challenge. that speleologists, these passionate amateurs, often simple weekend adventurers, take pleasure in meeting all over the world.
The caves, immutable on a human scale, have preserved for thousands of years the fascinating traces left by prehistoric men, paintings and engravings or simple prints of bare feet. Moreover, by discovering the pollution to which the underground environment is a victim, in particular the water which crosses the karst zones, speleologists have become aware of its extreme fragility and the urgent need to protect it.
The stamp shows the richness and beauty of the French natural underground heritage and underlines the action of speleologists. Presented to scale on the stamp, they bear witness to the scale and splendor of these decorations. Several landscapes and concretions from 3 different cavities illustrate the stamp, gours (room of gours, Aven de Rose cavity - Hérault), body of water and stalagmite (Lac de Minuit and Grande stalagmite, grotte de Trabuc - Gard), fistulas ( visible and common to many cavities, here Pousselières cave - Hérault) "