Grotte Chauvet

Useful Information

a painting of a cave bear (Ursus spelaeus).
Lions, Chauvet Cave, Ardèche, France. Replica at the Brno museum Anthropos, Czech Republic. Public Domain.
Location: At Vallon-Pont-d'Arc in the Ardèche region. A7, exit Montélimar or Bollène, up the Ardeche valley to Vallon-Pont d'Arc. 45 km from Montélimar.
Open: Closed!
Fee: Closed!
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Dimension: L=490 m.
Bibliography: Eliette Brunel Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel Deschamps (1996): Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave, The Oldest Known Paintings in the World. Harry N Abrams, 1996, Hardcover, 135pp, ISBN: 0810932326.
Jean Clottes (2003): Chauvet Cave: The Art of Earliest Times, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City; 2003. 225 pages, hardbound. ISBN 0-87480-758-1. Translated by Paul Bahn from the French La Grotte Chauvet, l'art de origins, Seuil, Paris, 2001.
Spencer P.M. Harrington (1997): La Débâcle Chauvet, Archeology, Volume 50 Number 2 March/April 1997
Spencer P.M. Harrington (1998): Chauvet Study Begins, Archeology, Volume 51 Number 6 November/December 1998
Address: Ministère de la culture et de la communication, 3 rue de Valois, 75033 Paris Cedex 01, Tel: +33-140-158000, Fax: +33-140-158530. 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.
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18-DEC-1994 discovered by Mr. Jean-Marie Chauvet, Mrs. Eliette Brunel-Deschamps and Mr. Christian Hillaire.
29-DEC-1994 verification visit, conducted by Jean Clottes, an expert on Paleolithic art.
17-JAN-1995 the Minister of Culture and Francophony, Jacques Toubon, announced the exceptional archaeological discovery of a decorated cave.
19-JUL-2000 start of the project to build a reproduction of the cave at La Mathe, parking de l'Ibie. Mr. Jean-Marie Chauvet, Mrs. Eliette Brunel-Deschamps and Mr. Christian Hillaire recveived the honour Chevaliers des Arts.
2010 3D movie Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog.
2014 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


a mammoth, engraved into the white limestone which is covered by brow cave clay.
a diorama in the exposition shows the artist at work.

Grotte Chauvet is a beautiful painted cave in the Ardèche region. It has several very large galleries with more than 300 paintings and engravings dating to the Paleolithic era (between 32,000 and 30,000 years ago). The paintings show rhinoceroses, felines, bears, owls and mammoths.

Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel-Deschamps and Christian Hillaire are speleologists, who have been doing speleological surveys in the area for numerous years. They discovered and explored the cave in December 1994. They named the cave after Jean-Marie Chauvet. When they informed the government about the discovery, the archaeologist Jean Clottes immediately conducted a verification visit. And in January the cave was presented to the public by the Minister of Culture and Francophony, Jacques Toubon. This is exceptionally fast, as the cave was discovered only two months earlier. The cave was immediately closed after its discovery, and only scientists approved by the ministry of culture were allowed to do research. This is necessary to protect the fragile paintings and preserve them for future generations.

Grotte Chauvet is closed to the public and will stay this way. To satisfy the public demand for information, numerous high quality pictures were published in books, which were translated into numeropus languages and sold world wide. A book published by the three discoverers and simply called Grotte Chauvet shows the most exciting paintings. And there is also a very interesting WebSite by Jean Clottes in French and English. See the links section below for more information.

In some years a reproduction may allow visitors to see the cave. This project is planned since the mid 1990s, but so far there is no sign of it. We were not able to find out if there are technical problems or financial ones.

In spring 2010 the German director Werner Herzog filmed the cave in state-of-the-art 3D technology. To protect the cave, the access of Herzog's crew to the cave was limited to four persons, four hours a day for six days. The crew was restricted to the 60 cm wide boardwalk on the cave floor, which was installed for the scientists immediately after the discovery. Only light which does not emit heat was allowed inside the cave. Actually the scientists working in the cave underly similar restrictions. The documentry movie called Cave of Forgotten Dreams debuted SEP-2010 at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be shown in movie theatres soon. The television rights of the film are owned by the History Channel.

Grotte Chauvet Gallery