Caverne du Pont d’Arc a museum of ancient art in France

Written by on March 17, 2017 in Rhône Alpes

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams –

When the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux were discovered in 1940, they created a sensation. Over the decades, thousands flocked to see the famous pot-bellied horses – so many, in fact, that the paintings started to deteriorate. Eventually the French government created an imitation cave – Lascaux II – and that’s what tourists visit today.

When the Chauvet Grotto was discovered twenty years ago, the government decided to avoid its earlier mistake. Even older than Lascaux, the Grotto was sealed off from all but a few scientists and artists. Werner Herzog’s 2010 documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, gave the world its first glimpse of these ancient wonders.

Until now.

The Caverne du Pont d’Arc

Two years ago a new museum complex opened,  called the Caverne du Pont d’Arc it recreates the Chauvet Grotto and its many glories.  About an hour north of Avignon, the Caverne is at the end of the Gorge d’Ardeche, a steep, winding gorge created by waters of the Ardeche River.

If you are daring, you can reach it by taking the narrow road cut into the gorge’s cliff. It features 800-foot sheer drops and no guardrails. The views are spectacular but you might prefer the more sedate route along the D4.

The paintings in the Chauvet Grotto are the oldest in the world, dating back 36,000 years – a time when Homo sapiens and Neanderthals still competed for survival. They depict animals like buffalo, lions and rhinos that no longer exist in Europe.

The Caverne not only recreates the paintings but the entire cave, including stalagmites and stalactites and animal bones on the ground. The bear skulls arranged in a semi-circle are especially striking. Guided tours run throughout the day and booking ahead is strongly advised.

The adjoining museum explains the history of the cave, the region, and humanity’s development in Europe. It has full-sized recreations of many of the prehistoric animals painted in the caves, like wholly rhinos. And there are “ask the scientist” kiosks where famous scientists answer questions in a very engaging way.

More information about the Caverne can be found at their website here.

Keith Van Sickle is the author of “One Sip at a Time” available from Amazon; a feel good story about learning to live in Provence – read our review here.

Related Articles

Summer fun in Samoens – like a giant playground

Samoens is a charming village in the Haute-Savoie region of France. Not just perfect for skiing and snow fun in the winter, in the summer it’s just like living in a large playground. There is so much to do, the only problem is deciding which activities to pick. Luckily  ZigZag Samoëns’ outdoor adventure specialists based right […]

Continue Reading

Drome Rhone Alpes | Lavender fields, vineyards and medieval villages

If you love the south of France and the romantic call of the lavender fields, a visit to the Drôme will reveal an unspoiled region that will truly delight… Drôme – the other Provence Drôme is one of the two most southerly departments of the Rhône Alpes region, with the Ardèche to the west and […]

Continue Reading

Summer in the Lake Annecy Ski Resorts

When the winter snow melts and the sweet spring air rolls over the Annecy mountain tops, the French Alps undergo an astonishing transformation. White turns to green, carpets of wildflowers blossom and the lakes reflect the deep blue sky. Up in the mountains summer temperatures can be high and sunbathing is just one of the […]

Continue Reading

5 Great Spring-time activities in Samoëns, Haute Savoie

The alpine village of Samoëns is just an easy 1-hour drive from Geneva international airport but if feels as if it is 100’s of miles away from the real world. When you’re there you’ll feel like you’re living in a beautiful Alpine bubble where the daily stresses of life are easily forgotten. Spring in the […]

Continue Reading

The Divine Hotel of the Abbaye de Talloires

It will take you about an hour to drive all the way round the Annecy Lake. Cycle – and it will take you around 5 hours. Or, you can take a water taxi (water-taxi.fr) which is great fun and gives you fabulous views. There are 12 beaches to enjoy around the Lac d’Annecy and in […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

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

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top