Ancient Art meets modern Art in the Dordogne

Written by on June 20, 2017 in Guest Blogs

France has a habit of inspiring great art – from homegrown talent such as Cezanne and Monet, to visiting legends such as Van Gogh and Picasso. But in the Dordogne, this artistic heritage runs even deeper. Before impressionism, before romanticism, before Renaissance art and predating even the early religious imagery, there was the cave art of Lascaux.

Estimated to be approximately 17,300 years old, the crude cave wall paintings date back to the Palaeolithic time, and are the first known works of art to be created by the human race.

They depict images which are still familiar to us today – horses, bulls, stags, countryside and, of course, humans. Stone carvings and coloured minerals are used to paint the cave walls, and almost 2,000 images have been identified, although most have now deteriorated beyond recognition.

Situated around 50km east of Périgueux, the Lascaux Caves are nestled in a hilly area beside the small French village of Montignac. For art lovers and history fans, it is a must-see.  Since 1979, the caves have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and preservation work is frequently undertaken. Before you visit, check ahead to make sure the caves are open to the public, and if possible, bring along a tour guide to talk you through the many different interpretations of the paintings (which range from a prehistoric astrology chart, to trance-induced hallucinations).

Of course, there is no shortage of more modern art around the Dordogne area. In the city of Périgueux, the Perigord Museum of Art and Archaeology (MAAP) showcases a huge collection of art and sculpture from the prehistory era, right through to the present day.

Smaller galleries such as the Galerie d’Art du Passage à Périgueux or Galerie L’App Art present more experimental, contemporary art works, which are juxtaposed against the ornate medieval architecture of Dordogne’s towns and cities.

Or of course, you could pick up a paintbrush yourself and discover first-hand what made this little corner of France such a perennial art centre. Grab a canvas, set yourself up by the river and create something that your descendants can find in another 17,300 years’ time.

By John Cummings of French Maison

Image of Medieval Cathedral at Périgueux, Dordogne, France. (Purchased from Shutter stock with unrestricted use)

Related Articles

French Lessons | Mastering verbs

A French shop assistant in Antibes’ old town asked me for the translation of a French word the other afternoon. We’d become bosom buddies in her quiet swimsuit store, but I was glad for the conversational distraction.  I hated swimsuit shopping. It brought out all my insecurities. As my new friend rang up my purchase, she complimented […]

Continue Reading

The pros and cons of taking your dog to France from the US

The first time I took my long-haired mini-dachshund, Ellie, to France, we spent two months traveling from Paris to Brittany and Normandy. Our last stop was the seaside resort of Agon-Coutainville, on the Cotentin peninsula which juts into the English Channel. There Ellie feasted on raw milk Camembert and prė-salė lamb. When we returned to […]

Continue Reading

Going to the butcher’s shop in France

A French town without a baker – it’s unthinkable – everyone would move away! A butcher is almost as important to French village life as a baker. The butcher sells the usual roasts and chops and chickens, as well as a variety of prepared foods. My wife Val and I live part of the year […]

Continue Reading

Dealing with administrative offices in France

Life isn’t all sitting around eating cheese and quaffing wine for expats in France. There’s the tricky issue of everyday life and administration to deal with too! Never annoy a Fonctionaire… I read somewhere that 20% of the French population work for the government. If you buy a home in France, you will eventually come […]

Continue Reading

How a Francophile followed a dream to live in Provence

Wikipedia defines ‘Francophile’ “as a person who has a strong affinity towards the French language, French history, French culture or French people.” When I read that, I thought, “Wow, that is totally me.” I grew up in Southern California, just an hour from the Mexican border. The most logical language to learn was Spanish. But from the first moment I heard […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top