Grottes des Planches

Cave of the Planks

Useful Information

Image: a typical passage in the cave, the path is built to the wall of the river cave.
Location: A36 exit Dole, N55km from Arbois. N83 via Poligny and Besançon.
Open: APR to JUN daily 10-17.
JUL to SEP daily 9-18.
OCT to NOV daily 10-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 7.50, Children (12-18) EUR 6, Children (4-11) EUR 3.
Groups (+): Adults EUR , Children (3-18) EUR .
Classification: ExplainKarst cave
Light: electric.
Guided tours: D=60min.
Tours in English Deutsch - German after appointment.
Explainatory texts in English Deutsch - German Italiano - Italian Netherlands Español - Spanish
Address: Grotte des Planches, 14 rue de la Baume, 39600 Les Planches pres Arbois, Tel: +33-384-661374, Tel: +33-384-660793, Fax: +33-384-665610.
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.


1813 kids from Arbois enter the cave entrance and discover Bronze Age tombs.
1904 first scientific exploration, first survey.
1935 start of development.
1936 opened to the public.
1946 cave reopened after World War II.
1947 giant dolly tubs added to the tour.
1975 archaeologic excavations.


Image: a so called Explaindolly tub, formed by the flowing water, and connected to the next dolly tub by a deep and narrow canal.

Grotte des Planches is located at the end of a typical reculee, as the steep valleys of the Jura are called. The cave at the end of the Planches Blind Valley is the source of a small river, one of the sources of the Cuisance river, and most of the cave passages contain a cave river. The path is most of the time attached at the cave walls, high above the river.

The cave is entered through a higher level, a now dry cave passage with impressive profiles and very little speleothems. Here is a small collection of items which were used to develop the cave, like a wooden boat and a wooden wheelbarrow. Then the path narrows and a winding stair leads down to the still water filled level.

The tour visits two different passages of nearly the same level. One is a little lower and is through the year the bed of the cave river. First the path is high above the river, attached to the wall of the cave. But when the passage narrows, it is only one or two meters above the water. Then the character of the cave changes again and the path is only a bit above the river bed. This part of the cave may become flooded after heavy rains.

A short connection leads to a parallel passage, which is a little higher. It is flooded only in times of high water, like the melting of snow in spring. At this time a wild water goes down the passage. But most of the time this passage is very dry.

It is obvious that this was much different once. The floor of this passage is covered by enormous and extraordinary Explaindolly tub, which are the unique and impressive main sight of this cave. Nearly circular bowls with steep walls and flat bottom, typically between 50 and 100cm in diameter and up to one metre deep. Some of them show the extremely rare child tubs, where the flat floor of the dolly tub shows three small child tubs, arranged in an equilateral triangle. The absolute highlight is a tub where one child tub shows "grandchild" tubs.

Most of the tubs are dry during the summer, a few contain standing water. They cover the floor of hundred meters of passage.

The cave was developed in 1935 by Emile Bonnivard. He bougth land, built a road and channeled the river below the cave. Inside the cave he installed wooden bridges and lowered the water level by digging a channel between the Grand Auditorium and the top of the waterfalls outside. Actually the modern tour is still based on the route he layed out 70 years ago. The cave is owned by the same family until today, it is at the moment managed by the grandson of Emile Bonnivard.

Grottes des Planches Gallery