The Caves of Villecroze

A secret place full of richness

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History of caves

Formed 700,000 years ago, at the end of the last local ice age, the caves are the result of a slow calcification of plants and mosses by a huge waterfall, rich in limestone, which covered the whole of the present cliff.
The rock thus formed, tuff, is the result of the fossilisation of these plants by the limestone water.
The caves, as well as a large part of the fields around the present village, belonged to the Benedictine monks of the Saint-Victor abbey in Marseille. They had a priory near the Saint-Victor chapel and used the caves, still in their natural state, as a place of refuge in the event of raids by the Saracens in the 10th century.
In 1566, they exchanged the caves with the lord of the valley, Nicolas d'Albertas. The latter undertook work to fortify the site and use its impregnable position against possible looters, especially as the Wars of Religion were raging at that time. However, there was never a siege and no one ever lived permanently in the caves.
In 1633, they were ceded to the commune and remain its property. In 1924, they were listed as a Natural Site and Monument of an artistic nature because they combine two criteria: history and geology.

Caves of Villecroze

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