|Image: a balcony at the wall of the doline.|
|Location:||Near Orgnac l'Aven. Motorway Lyon-Marseille, exit Bollene, through Pont St Esprit, towards Barjac. 25 km west of the Rhône Valley, 18 km south of Pont d'Arc. Between the Aven d'Orgnac and the Grotte Forestiere. (Latitude: 44.318680N Longitude: 4.404900E) (N 44°19'170 - E 004°24'324)|
|Open:||no restrictions. |
|Fee:||free. Guided Tour: Children EUR 2. |
|Light:||not necessary, bring torch.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|Image: The Foret de Ronze, the forest of the blackberries.|
The Baume de Ronze is a typical dollapse doline, where a huge cavern grew towards the surface and finally the ceiling collapsed. The rocks of the ceiling filled the cavern and blocked possible passages, which are thus unknown. The result was a huge, almost circular hole in the ground with two huge chambers, which are the remains of the original hall. From the surface there are two passages into the doline, close together, one is a narrow gorge winding down to the floor of the upper chamber. The other descent is close by and is a sort of steep slope with many steps in the rugged limstone surface.
|Image: the upper cavern with the remains of archaeological excavations.|
Once down in the cave, there is a sort of path around the huge cavern, and we will describe it anti clockwise. Keeping to the right we reach a huge shelter called L'aven de la Baume de Ronze, with a 10m high ceiling, 30m long and 50m wide. The dry floor of this cavern, shaped like a crescent, was used by prehistoric man between the Palaeolithic and about 3,000 years ago. Remains from the Paleoloithic were covered by a continuous deposition of limestone, which started about 8,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. Frost continually destroys the walls and ceilings of the cavern and the cave thus wanders upwards. The cave was in use as a sheep pen during the Neolithic, the time when the dolmen were erected on the surface. Huge areas were excavated by archaeologists and are now several meters deep pitches. They are covered by wooden planks and plasic foil, but they are not very stable and we recomend very strongly not to step on this planks.
The reason why this part of the cave was used by early man is easy to understand. It is easy to reach and it is warm and brightly lit during day, as the sun reaches this place. The excavation revealed various stone tools.
|Image: at the lowest point.|
Following the wall there is another slope steep down into the cave. Going down in serpentines we reach a depth of 50m. There is a small area of level floor, sand and clay sediments washed down from the steep slope. This place is really cold, because of the cold trap effect. Cold air flows into the cave during winter, and so this place is much colder than caves in the area generally are.
There are also some very narrow branches off this deepest point. But it is necessary to climb almost 10m up the wall and then the passages are very narrow. They are definitely only for experinced cavers.
Climbing up again, there is another path branchnig off to the right. Here it is possible to climb onto a sort of balcony along the wall. This place is easy to reach, but it is dangerous. Be careful not to fall down, as this would definitely be lethal. The path uphill leads back to the surface.
The Baume de Ronze was named after the location, in the middle of the Foret de Ronze, Ronze means blackberry in French. Baume is a refuge, and refers to the use by prehistortic man.
It is very close from the Aven d'Orgnac and can be reached in a pleasant walk through the wood in about 20 minutes. The Aven d'Orgnac also offers educational tours into the Baume de Ronze for school classes. They take about 90 minutes and start at the Aven d'Orgnac. However, the cave is open and easy to visit.
|Baume de Ronze Gallery|