Grottes de Bernifal

Useful Information

Location: Meyrals. At the D47 from Les Eyzies towards Sarlat-la-Canéda.
Open: JUN daily 9:30-12:30, 14:30-18:30.
JUL to AUG daily 9:30-18:30.
SEP daily 9:30-12:30, 14:30-18:30.
Fee: Adults EUR 6, Children (6-16) EUR 4, Children (0-5) free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: torch provided.
Guided tours: D=60 min, max 25 visitors per tour.
Bibliography: Louis Capitan, Henry Breuil, Denis Peyrony (1903): Les figures gravées à l'époque paléolithique sur les parois de la grotte de Bernifal (Dordogne), Comptes-rendus des séances de l'année, Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, 47e année, No. 3, 1903, pp. 219-230.
Address: Grottes de Bernifal, 24220 Meyrals, Tel: +33-553-296639.
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.


AUG-1902 cave discovered by Denis Peyrony.
27-MAY-1904 declared a monument historique.
1928 survey of painting by Abbé Breuil.
1935 natural entrance reopened by Denis Peyrony.
1979 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Grotte de Bernifal is decorated with more than 100 engravings and pictures. There are numerous common motives like horses, bison, mammoths, and ibex. The most common animal is the mammoth, which is represented 24 times. But the highlight here are so-called tectiforms, geometric patterns of dots which form roof shaped symbols. The term tectiform was first used by Abbe Breuil and Louis Capitan in 1902 to describe the symbols they discovered here at Bernifal. So it is actually the type locale for this kind of paintings. There are twelve tectiforms on the walls and one on the ceiling. Stone tools from Bernifal are on display at the Musée national de Préhistoire aux Eyzies-de-Tayac.

The first paintings were described by Denis Peyrony after the discovery in 1902. The survey of the painings was completed by Abbé Breuil in 1928. He published the results, the description and analysis of 41 engravings and paintings, in 1952. Further discoveries by Alain Roussot, Norbert Aujoulat, and Jean Vertut increased the number of paintings to more than 100.

The Grotte de Bernifal is located at the road D47 from Les Eyzies towards Sarlat-la-Canéda. About 1,5 km from Le Roc de Cazelle there is a parking lot at the right side with an informative sign about the cave. From here it is a pleasant walk, 500 m through the forest and up the hill to the cave entrance.

The cave was open when the prehistoric visitors left their pictures. Then the entrance collapsed and the paintings were protected from later vandalizm. Denis Peyrony, who discovered the second entrance through the cave ceiling in 1902, believed that it had been purposely blocked with rubble in prehistoric times. But there is no evidence to support this theory. He reopened the natural entrance 30 years after he discovered the cave. This made excavations less difficult, and the cave was opened to the public. The entrance in the ceiling is now blocked.

The cave has no electric light, so the cave is visited with torches. It is privately owned, in contrary to most other caves which are owned by the ministry of culture. The owner, Gilbert Pémendrant, was very committed to he cave and did the tours himself. He unfortunately died in 2007, we do not know who currently owns the cave and how it is managed. But the cave has regular open hours during the summer months.