Cave art help

I am planning a short trip to Dordogne/Sarlat and am zeroing in on 3 caves: Lascaux II, Grotte de font de Gaume, and Grotte de Rouffignac.. Seems like you can only call via telephone to reserve... As there are only 2 of us and coming in early September should I worry? Set up a tour to be safe? Call from Paris when I arrive a week earlier? Any thoughts, ? Or other cave suggestions to see?

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1358 posts

hi, this is how i see things like this. If the caves are the ONLY REASON you are there, then i would make my reservations ASAP. happy trails.

Posted by Melissa
Cincinnati, OH, USA
7 posts

Unfortunately, Font de Gaume is no longer taking reservations. You just have to get there early and hope for the best. We plan to visit Pech Merle instead, as they do take reservations by email. I think Lascaux only takes reservations in July and August, but you can email them to find out. I emailed c.lignerat@semitour.com for Lascaux.

Posted by Gabriele
San Francisco, CA
7 posts

Hi Suzan, If you don't mind travelling a little further south, the Ariege department has some great caves that seldom make the radar for people interested in prehistoric art. Here's a link with info: http://www.ariege.com/what-to-visit-in-ariege/prehistoric-caves/index.html I've driven through the Mas d'Azil, and visited Bedeilhac and La Vance. My travelling companion (we used to meet in the south of France, me from LA, he from Amsterdam) went on the boat ride tour of Labouiche but there is no art. We had planned on a visit to Niaux but a neck injury put that out of the question. A lot of expats from the UK (and some from US) have settled in the Ariege and Aude (to the east) departments and enough English speaking tourists (but not as many as other regions) so it's not difficult getting on if you don't speak much French. Foix is the closest large city, Tarascon-sur-Ariege is the main town in the long valley (and a beautiful valley, too) that holds the caves. You'd need a car to get to the caves so you could also drive up to Andorra and check out the duty-free...(I never did, but some people like the idea, a tiny country and duty-free too).
If you haven't already booked your flight, check out Air Tahiti Nui...they've smaller planes but super service, direct flights..sign up and get info on special sales. Good luck and have a great trip.

Posted by suzan
la, ca
34 posts

Thanks; I'll look into that. I only have 3 nights, so not sure I can venture too far... Regarding the 3 above: Laxcaux II, and 2 grottes, they don't make reservations; I've tried, though it may only be a problem at gone de Gaume, but can't quite make out the French they answered; I think they said to get there at 9:30, before opening and I'll have a chance... Any suggestions about Philippe? Does anyone know if he can get us into anywhere in particular, or are we pretty much ok with a car and Steeves guidebook in the area if we'd like to see at least a few cave painting sights? Thanks

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1009 posts

L'Abri du Cap Blanc is a 42 ft., prehistoric relief carving, cut into a limestone cliff. It's quite close to Les Eyzies, so you could include it with your visits to the other sites. Highly recommended.

Posted by suzan
la, ca
34 posts

Has anyone been to Pech Merle? it's about an hour and a half drive south of Sarlat into a park, so may be slow and take longer, not sure; they do take reservations, and I'm wondering if it's worth it...

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

Pech Merle is the finest there is. Eventually it's going to have to close. See it before it goes the way of Lascaux and Altamira.

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1009 posts

If you can get a reservation for Peche-Merle, do it. So much better to be certain. While you are in the area, stop at St.Cirq Lapopie. It's a very picturesque medieval village. It's also possible to get a boat tour down the Lot river from Cahors, which is quite scenic.

Posted by suzan
la, ca
34 posts

I am considering five caves sites in 2 full days and 2 mornings: Lascaux II on our drive in, fonte de Gaume, and grotte de Cougnac, 2nd day. Peche Merle and grotte de rouffignac 3rd day
and Font de Gaume on our way out of town. Does this sound doable? I will hope to visit some villages, scenery, lakes, canoe ride maybe, and castles, along the way..

Posted by Adam
Boston
2633 posts

Suzan, I would suggest sitting down with a map and grouping these a bit more logically. (Also note you plan to visit Font de Gaume twice) I think you can probably see most of these if you do not do anything else while there. I hope you understand that there may be considerable waiting around at the different sites.

Posted by Robin
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
2 posts

In September 2011 we had a great cave day. We went to Grotte font de Gaume before 9:00 am & cued for tickets. We were able to get tickets for an English tour for 3:30 pm the same day. We drove off to Lascaux II & waited about 30 minutes for the tour once we had our tickets. For lunch we stopped at La roque St Christophe & took the tour afterwards. Then back to Grotte font de Gaume for our tour. It felt like a very relaxed day with lots of time to enjoy the beautiful countryside & absorb all the information we learned about the caves in between. The caves are definitely worth the time & effort.

Posted by suzan
la, ca
34 posts

Thanks, that sounds like a plan... I have google mapped the caves and that seemed like the best route, though of course I didn't factor in waiting times and detours ... Maybe we'll start at font de gaume in hopes of getting tickets. Lascaux II looks to be on our way in from Tours day before, so if we get in by 3 p.m. it might make sense.. Peche Merl and Grotto de Cougnac are a bit south from Sarlat, so if we drive there we'll probably try both the same day..

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
633 posts

I would listen to Ed and try to see Peche Merle. I visited Font de Gaume without a reservation with no problem but didn't get an English tour. If you go early in the day to reserve your spot the town of Les Ezeis is very close and really nice to visit. The natural history museum is there and may be of interest while you wait. There is a lot more to see in the area besides the caves.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
671 posts

Richard is right about the prehistory museum at Les Eyzies, very near Font de Gaume, but be aware that it's halfway up a cliff (where the people who made the cave paintings lived). A great setting but might be an issue for you re heights. I haven't been to Pech Merle but others (besides Ed) have told me it's a great one.

Posted by suzan
la, ca
34 posts

Should I buy the gps with the car? it's 17 euro a day Or bring one from home

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
671 posts

If you have a GPS already, buy a Europe map (around $100) via the manufacturer's website, install it per instructions, and bring it with you. Don't forget the power cord to stick in the lighter (I'm dating myself!). $17 a day is an awful lot to rent something you can't keep afterward.

Posted by Melissa
Cincinnati, OH, USA
7 posts

Just read on another site that they are only allowing 80 people a day into Font de Gaume. It used to be 200.

Posted by Linda
Dallas, Texas, USA
4 posts

We were just in the Dordogne last week and attempted to go to Font du Gaume. We arrived about 40 minutes before the opening time,but some people had been there since 7:00am! They allow 80 per day, and there were probably 150 in line. So we did not get in. However, as we were headed to Albi we changed our plan and got a reservation at Pech Merle. It was absolutely wonderful! There were 6 people in our English tour, no crowds, and breathtaking countryside all around the area. The drawings were just mystical to see! So glad we made he change.It took us two hours from Castelnaud.