Paleolithic cave paintings of the Dordogne region , France


#1

Hi everyone ,

Just wondering whether anyone has visited any of the archeological cave sites of the Dordogne that have paleolithic paintings and specifically the Font de Gaume cave in Les Eyzies ? If so do you have any travel reccomendations ?

I’m planning a trip to this area of France for a couple of weeks time and planning what sites I’m going to visit and trying to work out the feasibility of all this.

Thanks


#2

Hello, i have been there, what is it you want to know specific?


#3

Hi Marjolein ,

Thank you for your reply. Basically I would like to know whether it was difficult to get to the village itself and your impressions of the site/sites ? Did you use public transport to reach the area ? What town would you reccomend as a base of operations ? Did you have any difficulties in getting tickets for Font de Gaume ? etc.

Also do you have any reccomendations in general with seeing the cave paintings (The authentic ones not the recreations ) of the Dordogne ?

Thanks for your help


#4

Hello,
I am from Belgium, so we were there by car and saw both Font de Gaume and Les Combarelles. I heard that there are 80 tickets a day for font de gaume an 40 for Les Combarelles.
For the caves itself it is no longer possible to get tickets in advance, jou need to be there at the day, it opens at 9.30. We did not reserve tickets but we were there at 10, and tickets was no problem.We where there in oktober, so out of season. For groups reservation is still possible.
Guided tours of the caves are available each day of the week except Saturday. On the following national and religious holidays, the caves are also closed: 1 January, 1 May, 1 and 11 November, 25 December. They are the only real painting in France from the European Ice Age. They are magnificent as specially les Combarelles.
There is a travel company in france that does tours from Brive-la-Gaillarde rail station, you can check that out on there website: https://www.cavesandcastles.com. the will show you al the caves in the area. The dordogne is a beautiful area filled whit ancient caves full of paintings and if you like history.
I you want to know more, just ask.


#5

Hi Marjolein ,

Thank you ever so much for your detailed reply! I’m definitely going to head over to France to see the cave paintings soon and thanks to your tips I will get there a lot more smoothly. I might email the organization you mentioned to see if they do tours in November too.

One final question which one of the caves you saw impressed you most ?


#6

Your welcome,

How to compare!! Font de Gaume for the age of the paintings, pech merle for the painting of spotted horses and hands http://www.pechmerle.com/le-centre-de-prehistoire/la-grotte-du-pech-merle/visite-de-la-grotte/

I just like caves in general for al its natural beauty, we have so many beautiful caves in Europe, its hard to compare but those to impress for the paintings.


#7

http://font-de-gaume.monuments-nationaux.fr virtual of font de gaume

Where are you from?


#8

I am really interested to see the prehistoric cave paintings of the Dordogne because although I am quite well travelled when it comes to France for some reason I just have never had the opportunity to visit any of the caves. So now I suppose I am trying to make up for lost time.

I feel that the prehistoric cave painting sites of France and Spain are perhaps the most relevant of all European art works and archeological sites, even more so than those of the Italian and Greek classical world. I think it is because they cut to the heart of what it means to be human , to our origins , the profound need to create art.

Also they are from a time when our species did not have any delusions of grandeur about its place in the cosmos and was just another animal , albeit one with a phenomenal consciousness , trying to survive against the odds in a hostile world.

In terms of European cave paintings I’ve actually only seen the Prehistoric paintings of “Tito Bustillo” in Asturias, Spain which is mindblowingly beautiful with its horse and stag imagery. So there is still a lot more caves to see and so little time :frowning:


#9

Does anyone have an idea of why they do not sell tickets in advance? I can picture planning a trip around them and then failing to actually get a ticket because of bad luck with crowds.


#10

After doing a bit of reading on some websites it appears that the problem is the sheer amount of people who want to visit the caves and also the need to have a quota on how many people enter for conservation purposes.

One forum even mentions people actually deciding to camp outside the ticket office and waiting there in the early hours before sunrise to stand a chance of getting in.


#11

I certainly understand the need to limit visitors for conservation. I’m simply surprised they don’t manage it via a process that’s more kind to those of us who don’t live in Western Europe.


#12

Yeah I agree , the lack of pre-booking options is a pain for sure ( for Western Europeans too) but I’m just glad its still open to the public as most of the more outstanding paintings of France and Spain have been closed.

I’ve been doing some more reading on the Dordogne sites today and there are rumours circulating that most of the caves of the region will soon be closed to the public for good. So I think time is of the essence in planning to go experience them before the opportunity is lost forever.

For the record I totally understand and support the closure of any of the caves for conservation reasons. But I also think its an utter tragedy that something so beautiful and profoundly central to the origins of our species and all human beings should be inaccessible to anyone but academics or archeologists.