Grotte de Pair-non-Pair

Grotte de Pair non Pair


Useful Information

Location: Near Prignac-et-Marcamps.
A 10, exit St-André-de-Cubzac, then Prignac and Marcamps D 669, Bourg.
(45.039290, -0.501834)
Open: 15-JUN to 15-SEP daily 10, 11:15, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30
16-SEP to 14-JUN daily 10, 11:15, 14:30, 16.
Visits must be booked 1 month in advance.
[2021]
Fee:  
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=20 m.
Guided tours: D=1 h, Max=18. Booklets in different language for download.
Photography: forbidden
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: A. Cheynier (1963): La caverne de Pair-non-Pair (Gironde) Fouilles de François Daleau, Documents et industries étudiés et dessinés par le docteur André Cheynier, Préf. Raoul Cousté. Cheynier (Dr André) éd. & Abbé Breuil, Edité par Bordeaux, Société archéologique (Documents d'Aquitaine, II), 1963
P. David, G. Malvesin-Fabre (1950): Une interprétation nouvelle pour une gravure de Pair-non-Pair Bulletin de la Société préhistorique de France, tome 47, no. 3-4, 1950. pp. 139-141.
B. Delluc, G. Delluc (1997): Dix observations graphiques sur la grotte ornée de Pair-Non-Pair (Prignac-et-Marcamps, Gironde) Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, 1997, tome 94, N. 1. pp. 41-50.
Address: Grotte de Pair-non-Pair, 2, chemin de Pair non Pair, 33710 Prignac-et-Marcamps, Tel: +33-557-68-33-40, Fax: +33-557-68-33-40. 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

06-MAR-1881 cave discovered by a cow's leg.
MAR-1881 to 1913 excavations by archaeologist François Daleau (1845–1927).
20-DEC-1901 listed as a National Monument.
2008 new reception building built.

Description

The Grotte de Pair-non-Pair (Even/Odd) is the only prehistoric site open to the public in the Gironde department. In other words, it is far away from the centres of palaeolithic art, a single cave in an area where no other caves are known. Nobody guessed the existence of this cavern, actually the local terrain never provided any clues for the existence of a cavern at all. But on March 6, 1881 a cow got stuck in a small hole with her leg, while grazing on top of the cave. The farmer tried to free her and discovered the cave. He was obviously very attentive, as he noticed the hole was much deeper than he expected.

Being located in an area where caves are rare and uncommon, this cave is actually quite small. It is only 20 m long and has three small chambers, which have been named Galerie Nord (Northern Gallery), Salle de Gravures (Chamber of Engravings), and Corridor effondre (Collapsed Corridor). The cave was visited by humans between 90,000 and 30,000 years ago, first by Neanderthals, the by Homo erectus. Excavations carried out by François Daleau in the late 19th century revealed lithic and osseous industries as well as numerous animal bones. They created animal engravings, depicting horses, ibexes, deer, mammoths, cattle and an Megaloceros. They are between 35.000 and 29.000 years old. The original entrance to the cave collapsed between 35.000 and 29.000 years ago during the late Châtelperronian. The cave was accessible during the Aurignacian and the Gravettian period via several secondary entrances. Due to sedimentation the whole cave was completely covered by debris. The inside was also filled with sediment deposits.

Immediately after the discovery, the archaeologist François Daleau (1845–1927) began excavations. He removed the cave sediments thus first digging down the entrance shaft, then to the main entrance making access once more possible. Finally the rest of the cave was excavated. Today most of the content is removed and the original size of the cave is visible. Some 2.5 m of Late Paleolithic sediments and more than 1.5 m Middle Paleolithic sediments were found. 15,000 stone tool fragments and around 6,000 animal bones of 60 species were unearthed and recorded. Also balls of ochre and shoulder blades of cattle, which had been used as pallets, were found. As the respective paintings were not discovered they were obviously destroyed. The most exceptional discovery was probably a flute made of a vulture bone.

The engravings on the wall were discovered, once the respective sections of the wall were freed from sediment. The first lines on the walls were discovered in 1883. The first animal engraving was actually discovered in 1896, 15 years after the cave was discovered and the excavations had begun. As a result their authenticity was never disputed. Most animals carved on the walls of the cave are represented in pairs, probably an explanation for the rather weird name of the cave. The engravings include one of the very rare representations of a Megaloceros giganteus. It was the largest deer which ever existed in Eurasia, with antlers spanning to up to 3.50 meters in length.