Traditional place

Lascaux and Lascaux II, France

Lascaux (in French: Grotte de Lascaux, “Cave of Lascaux” is the scene of a cave complex near the town of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne, in the southwest of France. More than 600 parietal wall paintings cover the interior walls and the ceilings of the cave.The paintings represent mainly large animals, typical local and contemporary fauna that corresponds to the fossil record of the Upper Paleolithic.The drawings are the combined effort of many generations, and with a continuous debate, the age of the paintings are estimated at around 17,000 years (early Magdalenian).

Lascaux II is a replica of the cave of Lascaux, the best known rock art site of the Stone Age in Europe, if not in the world. The cave was discovered in September 1940 by four teenagers, Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel and Simon Coencas, in search of Marcel’s dog robot. The main archaeologists of the time quickly realized the importance of the site, and the cave was opened to the public in 1948.

In 1955, about 1,200 visitors visited the site every day. Traffic volume began to affect prehistoric art, due to the damage caused to prehistoric art by thousands of visitors each week, Lascaux was closed to the public in 1963. Lascaux was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979, as an element of the Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley. The Ministry of Culture embarked on an intensive and expensive project to create a replica. Lascaux II was opened to the public in 1983. The replica contains the main sections of the cave and gives visitors the opportunity to see some of Lascaux’s very striking painted panels.

Even if you are looking at a replica, the accuracy of the replica is measured in millimeters. For anyone who has the slightest interest in prehistory and prehistoric art, Lascaux II is a must. Lascaux II is open all year (except three weeks in January). From October 1 to Easter, you can buy your tickets at the box office (except Mondays, when the site is closed). From Holy Week until the end of September, Lascaux II is open every day, and scheduled tickets must be purchased in the city of Montignac, at the place du cinéma, at the Tourist Office, in front of a church.

Tickets can now be purchased for the next day, or two. In fact, in high seasons, I would be very lucky to be able to buy a ticket for the same day. The entrance is only through a guided tour, which lasts about 40 minutes. Guided visitor are available in French, English, German, Dutch, China , Hindi and Spanish. The replica is located 200 meters from the entrance of the original Lascaux cave, near the city of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne, and near many other sites of rock art in the area that are open to the public.

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