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Dordogne cave access.

If they are truly closed to the public, and are being protected.. I get it. ( and even support that). BUT if they are open to visitors... how do we get in? Would like SOME chromatic art if possible. ( and what village would you suggest we use as base? ) visiting in April, with 2 kids.

Posted by
5648 posts

Beynac is a great and central location. It's been 9 years, so policies and procedures may have changed, but we showed up and purchased tickets from the ticket booth or gift shop at the caves we visited. Some times we had to wait a short time for the next guided tour. The shops sold posters and other items as souvenirs. Rick's France book should have the latest details various caves & on getting in.

Posted by
1364 posts

Font du Gaume is breathtaking. According to the RS guidebook update section there's no reservations allowed anymore. You show up no later than 7:30 it says. We based in Sarlat and were happy with the decision. Les Cordeliers is a beautiful B&B.

Posted by
212 posts

Add peche de Merle to your list, which is remote and a bit of a drive from Sarlat. We were there in March 2011 and happened to get lucky, because they let us in after many phone calls over the previous few weeks but only because a group of school children was going through the same day. It is spectacular . We also visited Font de Gaume, though in those days (just two years ago) we could reserve ahead. We also can heartily recommend Les Cordeliers.

Posted by
29 posts

y'all are so great, thank you. and as of now we think showing up very early at Font-de-Gaume might get us in? I LOVE having options for other sites like peche de Merle. please keep these suggestions coming . ( I will be getting my RS' France book soon.) will look into Les Cordeliers, thanks thank you.

Posted by
521 posts

For those who won't be in the Dordogne any time soon, there is an exhibition touring North America called 'Lascaux - art at the dawn of humanity'. The caves at Lascaux have been closed to the public since 1963, and visitor numbers at Lascaux II (reproductions, albeit in caves) are limited to 250,000 per year, so for most people this is probably the closest they are going to get to these images. The exhibition was in Chicago, is now at the Houston Museum of Natural Science until March next year and then in Montreal at Le Centre des Sciences from April to September. According to a French language magazine I get, it is also going to San Francisco, although the website doesn't mention that:

Posted by
1821 posts

Based on Ed's recommendation peche de Merle sounds like the best place to go. I have been to Font de Gaume and it is amazing but be aware that the paintings are very faded. Adjust your expectations from the pictures you see online because what you will see there is 1/10 as vivid. Still it's awe inspiring to see the real things and imagine what went into making them and why. The entire Dordogne is an incredible mix of history, nature, culture and geography.

Posted by
3333 posts

Kevin's mention of the Lascaux exhibition reminded me that there is a movie available on dvd, called "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," which relates the discovery and exploration of a painted cave near Vallon Pont d'Arc, France. The cave will never be open to the public, though there is a small museum nearby that can be visited. The images are spectacular! When it was shown in theaters, it was in 3-D; but even the 2-D version is well worth viewing.