Grottes de Jonas

Useful Information

Location: Saint Pierre Colamine, near Besse
Open: 13-FEB to 13-MAR Mon-Fri, Sun 11-17.
14-MAR to 31-MAR Sun 11-17.
01-APR to 10-APR Sun 11-18.
11-APR to 30-APR Mon-Fri, Sun 11-18.
01-MAY to 07-MAY daily 11-18.
08-MAY to 31-MAY Mon-Sat 13:30-18, Sun 11-18.
JUN Mon-Sat 13:30-18, Sun, Hol 10:30-18.
JUL to AUG daily 10-19.
SEP Mon-Fri 13:30-18, Sun 11-18.
OCT Sun 11-17.
24-OCT to 02-NOV Mon-Fri, Sun 11-17.
06-NOV 11-17.
11-NOV to 13-NOV daily 11-17.
18-DEC to 23-DEC daily 11-17.
26-DEC to 30-DEC daily 11-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 6.30, Children EUR 5.20.
Groups: Adults EUR 5.30, Children EUR 4.20.
With guided tour: Adults EUR 8.30, Children EUR 7.20.
Groups: Adults EUR 7, Children EUR 6.
Classification: SubterraneaCave House
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Site Troglodytes de Jonas, 63610 Saint Pierre Colamine, Tel: +33-473-963169, Fax: +33-473-282160. E-mail: contact
For groups, Tel: +33-473-266200.
Grottes de Jonas, SARL Agence Organicom, 16 avenue de Grevenmacher, 63170 Aubière.
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.


10th cty monastery created.
11th cty abandoned by the monks, inhabited by knights.
1316 site mentioned as castrum seu repayrium (fortified place of less importance).
17th cty abandoned.
1706 one corner of the chapel collapsed.


The Grottes de Jonas (Caves of Jonah) are a multilevel system of cave dwellings cut into the volcanic tuff cliff face. The cave were condtructed at the end of the 10th century, according to legend by Patrick Saletta and his Cenobites. The existence of a chapel make it likely that this structur was originally intended as a monastery. The reasons to build caves are simple, cutting caves in soft rock is less work than building houses, and the caves were warm in winter, cool in summer, and needed very little maintenance. But it seems the monastery has been abandoned during the 11th century.

Following the monks, the caves were now inhabited by knights from the nearby castle. They improved the caves by adding a facade with an tower, and thus transforming the monastery into a fortification. They also built a second chapel on top of the old one. This site was abandoned during the 17th century and fell in disrepair. Only the chapel was used until the revolution.

The chapel was cut completely out of the rock modelling the altar and the pillars, the arches and the ceiling. The walls are decorated with magnificent medieval frescoes. The most impressive scenes are the denial of Peter, Jesus receiving the crown of thorns, the body of Jesus is lowered from the cross, the discovery of the empty tomb, and finally the Virgin Mary enthroned with the child Jesus on her lap. The walls were covered by white lime as background, the frescoes were painted using only very few colours, red and yellow ochre, red iron oxide and black coal. One corner of the chapel collapsed in 1706.