Grotte des Résistants

Grotte de Savoye

Useful Information

Location: 83170 Vins-sur-Caramy.
(43.4315741, 6.1595025)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: VR=56 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Paul Courbon (2010): Grotte des résistants, Spelunca n°119, 2010. Français - French online pdf
Address: Grotte des Résistants, 83170 Vins-sur-Caramy.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


08-JUN-1944 message about drop in the BBC.
16-JUL-1944 material relocated to three nearby bauxite mines.
29-JUL-1944 four resistance fighters shot by the NAZIs.
1988 exploration and survey by Paul Courbon.


Grotte des Résistants (Cave of the Resistance Fighters) is actually named Grotte de Savoio, which is local dialect and pronounced Grotte de Savoye. The cave was used by local resistance fighters who were killed by the Nazis, and so it was renamed after World War II in their honour. The cave is located above the village Vins-sur-Caramy in the forest. It is reached by crossing the medieval bridge to the Chemin des Résistants. Here the tombstones of the four killed resistance fighter can be seen. Following the single lane gravel road to the left, keep right after 250 m, after another kilometer there's a triangular stone monument of the ANCVR (Association Nationale des Combattants Volontaires de la Résistance). From here a marked footpath on the left side of the road leads to the cave entrance. From the medieval bridge its about half an hour walk to the cave, from the monument about 5 minutes.

In 1942, the Resistance was organised in Brignoles and the neighbouring villages. In June 1943, Marceau Arnaud formed a group with 18 members in Vins and marked out a parachuting ground in the Plaines de Vins, approved under the name of Vermicelle. From 27 to 28 May 1944, weapons, explosives, and other equipment intended for the Resistance was parachuted on the Plateau du Défens, near Cabasse. In the following night, a second drop of fifteen containers and ten packages took place on the Vermicelle field. It was carried by the members of the group on their backs to the rotte de Savoio. On 8 June 1944, a message from the BBC announced the imminence of the landings and the Vermicelle airfield had been identified as a site for gliders and parachutists. At night, a one kilometre long runway was cleared. A team of Malagasy led by Dominique Logiacco and a group of Spaniards helped the Resistance fighters. Unfortunately the Germans and their French collaborators knew about the parachute drops, one of them had landed by mistake in the middle of Brignoles. The Nazis searched everywhere for the dropped material, and as a result the resistance moved the material to three nearby bauxite mines on 16 July.
On 27 July 1944, four Resistance fighters: Jean Mozzone, his two sons Eugène and Louis, and Théodore Linari, were arrested by the Germans. No one knows whether they were denounced, indiscreet or boasting after drinking. Some think that they were denounced because of political differences, as the four men were communists. After being tortured, they confessed to the existence of the cave where, on 29 July, they led the German soldiers. The Germans were nervous and brutal at the end of the occupation, and the four maquisards were shot dead. Their bodies were later discovered by other Resistance fighters.

That's more or less how Paul Courbon retold the story in his Spelunca article. For those who are not aware of the details of World War II and the French involvement, we should probably add some facts and interpretations. The Germany were retreating, D-Day, the landing of the Allies in Normandy was on 06-JUN-1944. A few weeks after these events they retreated completely from France. During the war the BBC broadcast across France with news, details about the war, and encrypted messages for the maquis. This story is not special, it happened in almost any war and the French were actually not known for avoiding such methods against guerilla fighters themselves, for example 20 years later in Algeria. However, in this case it was in France, and they are still very sensitive about the events. Our guess is, that the four did not know about the relocation to the bauxite mines, and the Germans were annoyed because the cave was empty. The Nazis committed many horrible crimes, including genocides and the killing of civilians as a punitive action, this story is not one of them.

The cave has two levels, the upper level is called réseau supérieur and is a passage which leads downwards in a relatively steep angle. At the end it becomes flat, and ends in a small room which is called salle de la cache (storage room). This is where the weapons were stored, hence the name. There is a shaft in the floor, which leads down to the réseau inférieur, the lower level, which is a series of shafts which require climbing gear. It is possible to visit the upper level and the storage room with the necessary care. Good walking shoes or gum boots, helmet with headlamp, and a jacket are the minimal equipment. Except for the historic events the cave has no notable features.