Grottes d'Arcy-sur-Cure

Caves of Arcy-sur-Cure - Grotte du Renne

Useful Information

Location: Near Arcy-sur-Cure. Motorway A6, exit Auxerre-sud, Nitry, or Avallon. At R.N.6 between Auxerre and Avallon. (47°46'N, 3°45'E)
Open: Easter to JUN daily 10-12, 14-17:30.
JUL to AUG daily 9:30-18.
SEP to 11-NOV daily 10-12, 14-17:30.
12-NOV to Easter after appointment for groups.
Tour every half hour.
Fee: Adults EUR 8, Children EUR 4.50, Students EUR 6.50.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 7, Schools Pupils (14-) EUR 6, Schools Pupils (6-13) EUR 4.
Classification: ExplainKarst cave
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=900m, T=12°C.
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: D. Baffier, M. Girard (1998): Les cavernes d'Arcy-sur-Cure, Avant-propos de Gabriel de La Varende. Paris.
Tim Appenzeller (1998): ART: Evolution or Revolution? Science 20 November 1998: Vol. 282. no. 5393, p. 1451.
Address: Grottes d'Arcy-sur-Cure, Route Nationale 6, 89270 Arcy-sur-Cure, Tel: +33-386-819063, Off season: +33-147-453498, Fax: +33-386-819107. 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.


16th cty first known explorations.
1990 additional Palaeolithic cave paintings discovered.


The Grottes d'Arcy-sur-Cure are several small caves which were formed by the Cure river in coral reef limestone. One of the caves, the biggest one, is open to the public as a show cave. Other caves, like Grotte du Renne and the Hyena Den Cave are archaeological sites and not open to the public.

This caves were used as a shelter by stone age man and contained numerous artifacts. There are animal and human remains, bones, sherds, flint tools and teeth. The highlight are probably cave paintings from the middle and late Palaeolithic period, which were discovered in 1990. The paintings are said to be the second oldest, after the ones in CaveGrotte Chauvet. There are about 50 paintings, including hand prints, bears, mammoths and ibexes.

Other highlights are Neanderthal remains which are still the topic of a dispute by the experts. An array of grooved teeth and other ornaments is interpreted as the handiwork of Neandertals. During the 1950s and 1960s dozens of pierced and grooved animal teeth for use as ornaments were excavated. Other finds were a handful of ivory beads and pendants. No other Neandertal site has produced anything similar to this treasure of symbolic objects. The age is still unclear, generally around 35,000 years are assumed. However, other theories of an age of 45,000 years are still not widerlegt, and this would mean the artifacts were created before modern humans arrived. The core of this dispute is the question, if non-modern humans like the Neandertals were able to create art and ornament.