Exploration of La Balme caves: condemned men and scientist
François I’s sentenced persons
We find king François I's equestrian portrait on a cave’s wall. Hey, he came in La Balme.
Yes he did, while he was visiting the court of Savoy, he made a little detour through the cave.
Curious, he wondered what was hiding there, in the dark. He needed some ″guinea pigs″.
He promised to reprieve two sentenced persons if they agreed to come up in a little bark in order to explore the cave and its underground lake.
Anyway, when the 2 prisoners came back, they told they saw the worst horrible things…
And to celebrate the king’s visit, they painted his portrait on a wall in 1882.
Foolhardy people in the dark
Before king François I and his guinea pigs, the cave was unexplored.
The first one who really did it was abbot Martin, in the reign of Henri IV.
Then in 1780, a local lord tried to get down.
4 years later, a scientist called Boury get down with a simple ladder, a cork corset used as a float, a thermometer and candles on the head: and the nuts one dived in the underground lake!
He wrote: ″I forget the world and said an eternal goodbye to him. I didn’t breath the same air as humans outside. I lived in another world.″
Boury never forget the ″fresh water, the pure air and the deep silence of this underground″.