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: APR to NOV daily 10-18.
Online booking or reservation by phone or email required.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 9.50, Young Adults (16-25) EUR 8.50, Children (12-15) EUR 6.50, Children (3-11) EUR 6, Children (0-2) free, Students EUR 8.50, Disabled EUR 8.50.
Groups (20+): discount 15%.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=900m, T=12°C.
Guided tours: Discovery tour: D=75min.
Prehistorical tour: D=100min.
Archaeological tour: D=3h.
V=180,000/a [2000]
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: yes
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, Manoir du Chastenay, 38 Grande Rue, Val Sainte Marie, 89270 Arcy-sur-Cure, Tel: +33-386-819063, Tel: +33-671-981833. E-mail:
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.

History

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

Description

The Grottes d'Arcy-sur-Cure are eleven small caves which were formed by the Cure river in coral reef limestone. One of the caves, La Grande Grotte (The Big Cave), 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, shards, flint tools and teeth. The highlight are 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 200 paintings, including hand prints, bears, mammoths and ibexes. Most of them are not accessible for their protection.

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 Neanderthals. 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 Neanderthal 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 disproved, 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 Neanderthals were able to create art and ornament.

In 2021 the cave offers only pre-booked tours, probably a result of COVID-19. Online booking is recommended but you can also phone or email. As far as we understand there are no regular open hours any more except for the general frame of April to November with daily opening. The number of offered tours depends on the season. You will find the dates and times on the online booking system on their website.