Grotte des Combarelles

Useful Information

Location: D47, 17km north of Bergerac, 2.3km east of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.
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.
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.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=300, T=12°C, H=99%.
Guided tours: L=400m, D=60min.
Address: Grotte des Combarelles, Hall d'accueil de Font-de-Gaume, Route de Sarlat, 24620 Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Tel: +33-553-068600, Fax: +33-553-352618.
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.


1891 entrance area excavated by Emile River.
1894 end of excavations by Emile River.
08-SEP-1901 engravings discovered.
1973 C-14 dating of bones.
1979 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The Grotte des Combarelles is located a few kilometers east of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. The huge entrance portal was known since ancient times. The entrance area was excavated by Emile River between 1891 and 1894. Bones, excavated in this area were dated with the C-14 method in 1973 to be between 11,380 and 13,680 years old.

The engravings in the narrow passage behind the huge portal were discovered by Denis Peyrony, Abbe Breuil and Louis Capitan on 08-SEP-1901. They were travelling around the area at this time to identify prehistoric remains. It was a time, when the age of cave paintings was impossible to determine. There were no modern isotope based methods, the age was derived from a theory of the development of modern art. The cave paintings were so elaborated, that archaeologists of this time, including the world famous Abbe Breuil, questioned a higher age. The owner of Altamira cave was blamed to have faked the paintings. But the discoveries at Combarelles proved an age of many thousands of years! The engravings were covered by speleothems, and knowing the growth rate of speleothems, an age much higher as ever before was calculated. As a result Abbe Breuil publicly appologized for his doubts.

But like often, the fame of Combarelles was short. Later in the same year the archaeologists discovered nearby Grotte de Font-de-Gaume and the colourfull drawings made the - sometimes hard to see - engravings much less popular. Probably a good thing, as this is actually the reason that Combarelles was never overcrowded, and never closed to the public.

The cave contains some 600 etchings and a few drawings in black outlines. They show mostly animals, including reindeers, musk oxen, horses, bisons, and aurochs (wild oxen). Some show rather abstract anthropomorphic figures which are interpreted as female forms. The art is of Magdalenien age, around 13,000 BP.

The passage is only one meter wide and was originally very low, so it was necessary to crawl. The floor was lowered when the cave was developed as a show cave, so thoday the visit is a sort of stooping walk. To protect the engravings the number of visitors is limited to 60 per day. Also it is not allowed to touch the wall at any point and the groups are limited to 6 visitors.