Grottos of Provence the Caves of Villecroze
Millions of years of seismic activity, tectonic plate movement and freeze-thaw cycles created the diverse geology of present-day Provence. The region is also known as the Bouches de Rhône where the Mediterranean shoreline runs the gambit of beaches, brackish wetlands and vertigo-inducing cliffs. Other natural phenomena in the area include the steep contours of the Gorges de Verdon and the volcano-shaped Mont Ventoux.
The caves of Villecroze are carved into the side of a sheer limestone cliff. A grotto formed by hundreds of thousands of years of water flowing over the porous rock. The continuous water created tufa rock-hard calcium carbonate deposits along the cliff face. Cycles of natural erosion and deposits formed caves of smooth stone and flowing stalactites.
The 16th-century Religious Wars were a period of intense uncertainty, a time when the best defence was to hide. It was in 1566 that local lord Nicolas d’Albertas (powerful family from Aix en Provence) determined that the Grottes Troglodytes could provide shelter for some of the local population in the event of an attack. At that time, some fortification of the natural caves was undertaken. Thankfully, the village of Villecroze was relatively unscathed by the religious hostilities. Explore the original Ginger & Nutmeg post.
Explore the Var
Visit the Gorges du Verdon. The Grand Canyon of France! A very beautiful place! Turquoise waters, impressive cliffs, and a beautiful lake for all kinds of water activities. If you are in the South of France, you should definitely visit the Gorges du Verdon!
The most accessible part of the gorges on the water can be found at the Pont du Galetas near Salles-sur-Verdon, on the road leading to Moustiers Sainte-Marie. You will find rental spots for pedal boats, electric boats and kayaks on both sides of the river near the bridge. Read about Laura’s visit to Gorges du Verdon and Lac Sainte Croix and family-friendly activities.
Not to be missed on this driving tour is Moustiers Sainte Marie a charming town, ranked among the most beautiful villages in France. Moustiers is the “gateway” to the Gorges du Verdon with most visitors passing through before or after their tour of the gorge. This village is striking with rugged cliffs as its backdrop and a massive gold star suspended between the two sides. Moustiers is equally well-known for a pottery trade that has spanned centuries. When you visit, explore the ceramic shops and the faience style pottery (tin-glazed). There is also a sporty walk (262 steps) you can do to the Notre Dame de Beauvoir chapel on the hillside.