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Villecroze Grotto

Gallery of 12 photos for Villecroze Grotto

The Villecroze grotto is a group of natural caves formed around 700,000 years ago, and fortified in the 16th century. The interior of the grotto has several "rooms" or caves, each different and each very interesting, like this one with the "flowing" stalactites.

 Villecroze Cliff front and left side. Fortification of the caves were initiated in 1566 by Nicolas d'Albertas, the local lord, as a defensive measure at the beginning of the Wars of Religion. Villecroze was never seriously attacked or besieged, so the fortified caves were never truly inhabited. In 1633 Nicolas d'Albertas ceded ownership of the caves to the commune of Villecroze.

The park at the base of the cliffs is open year-round, so if you're passing anywhere near Villecroze, be sure to at least stop here for a look. The caves are closed during the winter, but at other times the meager 2-euro entrance fee is more than worth the visit.

The interior contains many steps and a few very low passages requiring stooping for passage, so unaccessible if you have difficulty walking.

The entrance to the caves is at the left side of the terrace-ledge along the front of the cliffs (see photo-1). You need to step inside the large main room to find the low-key ticket seller. A friendly greeting and answers to your questions, in English or French, and only 2 euros.

The "front" part of the caves are rooms, stairways and passages carved out of the rock, and lighted from windows facing out over the park and across to the village.

Very low arched openings or steep stairways lead back into the real grottos, the naturally formed caves full of stalactites and other wonderfully formed shapes. Lighting is all artificial, and sometimes rather dim, adding to the spirit of the place.

Flash photography isn't allowed inside the grottos, so bring a steady had or a small tripod if you want to take pictures.

Tufa (Tuf)

The tuf stone one runs across now and again in Provence often refers to tuff, a porus rock derived from volcanic ash ejected during volcanic eruptions.

The tuf calcaire stone cliffs and caves of Villecroze, however, refers to tufa, a geological form of calcite rock — actually a rock-like calcium carbonate deposit — formed by the calcification of the vegetable content of the water. Huge waterfalls flowed over, and through, the Villecroze cliffs for several thousand years, both eroding and depositing to produce the lace-like appearance we find today.

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