Mention "cave art" and Lascaux is the first cave most people mention. But Lascaux has been closed since 1963 to protect the images of animals from the moss and algae that started damaging them. Don't give up that easily! Get out your Michelin Guide and head for the caves. Yes, that's plural. Here are some suggestions.
The ingenious French have created a copy of two of the galleries found in Lascaux cave.
You can see this duplicate attraction near the real cave just 10 kilometers (just over 6
miles) from Montignac. If you travel by train, get off at the Condat-Le-Lardin station.
The attraction is closed for a short time in winter. Call for information: +33-5-53-05-65-
Font de Gaume
Continue down the valley to Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, about 10 miles north of Bergerac.
Prepare to enter a real cave with more paintings of animals on the rock. This cave is
called Font de Gaume and it's a mile out of the village on D-47. Call ahead. Tel: 05-53-
Just up D-47 a few miles is another cave called Les Combarelles. Don't miss this one
because the art is not painted. The animal images are engraved into the rock. One
difficulty with this cave is that the passages are low and you may have to crouch. The
telephone number is the same as that for Font de Gaume.
If you are travelling in southern France, do take the opportunity to see these caves. There
is a possibility that they may be closed to the public in the future for the same reason
Lascaux was closed.
There are other caves as well if you want to see more. Ask the tour guides about them
and check the Michelin guides. Remember that "cave" is a cellar, and "grotte" is a cave.
While you are looking up in museums and cathedrals, don't forget that there is beauty
underground as well.
This cave has been visited for centuries as the graffiti shows. One date is 1602. Today, visitors are guided in small groups to see the prehistoric art showing six different species of animals including the bison, ibex, and auroch.
Caves not open to the public can be researched through the internet.
The art work in this cave covers species of a much earlier age, including rhinoceroses, lions, and bears. First discovered in 1994, it has never been open to the public.
This cave was discovered 115 feet below water level along the southern French coast in 1985. Three divers drowned in it when they became lost. There are 177 depictions of eleven different species in this cave. Since the sea water fills ¾ of the cave and has destroyed all art below water level, this cave must have been a wonder in its time.
One bit of history to consider regarding this cave is the discovery that the Mediterranean basin was once a desert valley. The cave was obviously used before the water flooded it.
Not to be forgotten are the beautiful sculptures of bison made of clay in this cave. It is gated and not open to the public.