Grotte de Font-de-Gaume

Cave of Font-de-Gaume


Useful Information

Location: Near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. A89 exit Saint-Laurent-sur-Manoire, D710, D47 and D32 to Les Eyzies. 1km from the centre of Eyzies on the left side of the Beune valley.
Open: 15-MAY to 15-SEP Mon-Fri, Sun 9:30-17:30.
16-SEP to 14-MAY Mon-Fri, Sun 9:30-12:30, 14-17:30.
Closed 01-JAN, 01-MAY, 01-NOV, 11-NOV, 25-DEC.
[2011]
Fee: Adults EUR 7, Children (0-17) free, Reduced EUR 4.50, Students (18-25) from the EU free, Disabled free, Unemployed free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 5.50.
[2011]
Classification:  Karst cave, painted cave.
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=400m.
Guided tours: D=45min. Only 180 visitors per day, reservation necessary! Max 12 Persons per tour. Photography, lamps, and bags strictly forbidden.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Pierre Fanlac (1973): Font-de-Gaume en Périgord, 63 pp illus. Pierre Fanlac Editeur, Périgueux.
Address: Hall d'accueil de Font-de-Gaume, 4 avenue des Grottes, 24620 Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Tel: +33-553-068600, Fax: +33-553-352618 E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:54:53 $

History

 
19th ctycave known and used.
12-SEP-1901discovered by Denis Peyrony, a teacher from Les Eyzies.
1979enrolled on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

The Grotte de Font-de-Gaume is famous for its cave paintings from the Magdalénien period. Its entrance is located 20m above the valley floor of the Beune valley, at the lower edge of a huge limestone rock.

There are many polychrome paintings and some engravings. The 240 figures show 80 bisons, which are the dominant motive. Most other pictures are also animals, 40 mammoths, 23 horses, 17 reindeers and deer, eight primitive cows, four goats, a wolf, a bear, and two rhinoceroses. More interesting, but less frequent, are four hand outlines and 19 geometric figures, including the so-called tectiforme.

This is the last cave with polychrome cave paintings open to the public, the more impressive Lascaux and Altamira caves are both closed for many decades now. The pictures are very close and easy to see, presented in an informative and neutral way. The small group size is important, so the guide is able to make sure all people see the paintings while not touching the walls. The paintings were made using mangane for the black parts, mostly silhouettes, and red ochre for the bodies. The paintings in the entrance section are almost completely destroyed by the exchange of air from outside. This influence stopped with a narrow section of the cave, behind which the paintings are almost unharmed.

The cave entrance with a rather big parking lot is located at the road towards Sarlat-la-Canéda. There is a restriction on the number of daily cave visitors, so the parking lot is oversized for the actual number visitors. The ticket office is also selling tickets for several other caves around Les Eyzies, so it is an important first stop, an easy way to get tickets for the most important caves of the area.

The trail to the cave entrance starts at the rear door of the small shop, a staircase is followed by an ascending paved trail to the cave entrance, which is about 350m from the ticket office. The tours start at the scheduled time at the cave entrance, so plan enough time for the way to the cave. We suggest at least 15 minutes for the walk, if you go 30 minutes earlier you have enough time to take some pictures at the entrance and enjoy the nice scenery. There is a toilet at the cave entrance and the entrance area is dry during rainy weather because of the overhanging cliff.

The trail through the cave is almost horizontal, there is only one point where some steps go up to a narrow passage and then down again. The cave is rather narrow, at two points stooping is necessary. The cave is not suitable for wheelchairs, but being almost horizontal it is suitable for most elderly people.

The entrance section is eqipped with an innovative floor cover, plastic grilles with dim light below, which are both easy to walk and helpful to see where you step. Unfortunately the second part of the cave has a natural floor covered by cave clay. We guess this is necessary for the protection of the painintgs, to keep the cave climate in balance. The cave is rather dry so the clay is not slippery but it is uneven.


See also


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