France - - History Trail -

Grotte de Las­caux

The en­chant­ing tale of Ro­bot the dog lead­ing his com­pan­ions to an­cient trea­sures lures hun­dreds of thou­sands of vis­i­tors to the Vézère Val­ley each year. While the orig­i­nal caves that 18-year-old Mar­cel Ravi­dat and his friends first glimpsed are closed, the im­pres­sive fac­sim­ile (Las­caux II) and new in­ter­na­tional cen­tre for pre­his­toric art (Las­caux IV) are the next best way to ex­pe­ri­ence the art. Ad­mis­sion €17 24290 Mon­tignac las­

Cav­erne du Pont d’arc

This €55 mil­lion re­cre­ation of the orig­i­nal Chau­vet cave re­pro­duces its twists and turns to give vis­i­tors an au­then­tic sense of be­ing deep un­der­ground, de­spite be­ing lo­cated in a large shed near the pic­turesque Pont d’arc. The hour­long tour along a raised walk­way passes 27 pan­els fea­tur­ing draw­ings or en­grav­ings of 15 dif­fer­ent species of an­i­mal. Work­shops and demon­stra­tions for all ages bring to life the pre­his­toric world of the cave’s painters, giv­ing vis­i­tors the chance to craft an­cient jew­ellery and mu­si­cal in­stru­ments. Ad­mis­sion €15, Plateau du Razal, 07150 Val­lon-pont-d’arc cav­ernedupont­

Grotte du Pech Merle

Since 1926 vis­i­tors have flocked to see these dra­matic mu­rals se­creted deep within the hill­side at Cabr­erets. Here, paint is said to have been ap­plied to the walls us­ing a del­i­cate spit­ting tech­nique. Look out for the bears’ lairs dug into the clay, where an­i­mal bones were found. It’s worth check­ing out the ac­com­pa­ny­ing pre­his­tory mu­seum too, where you can find more about other paint­ings in cav­erns that are closed to the pub­lic. Make sure to book in ad­vance for tours in English. Ad­mis­sion €13 46330 Cabr­erets pech­

Grotte de Ni­aux

The 800m trek into the cave is well worth the ef­fort. You will be ac­com­pa­nied by the dim glow of your torch, much as the orig­i­nal artists would have been, as you glimpse the glo­ri­ous Mag­dale­nian paint­ings that await in the great cav­ern. It’s a must-visit for those who want the au­then­tic cave art ex­pe­ri­ence. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes as the ground is un­der­stand­ably pot­holed and very un­even, and bring warm clothes too, as the tem­per­a­ture is 12°C all year round. Ad­mis­sion €12 09400 Taras­con-sur-ariège sites-touris­

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