Grotte du Sorcier

Grotte Prehistorique du Sorcier - Roc de Saint-Cirq

Useful Information

Location: Saint Cirq. Between Les Eyzies and Le Bugue.
Open: JAN to FEB daily 11-17.
MAR to APR daily 10-18.
MAY to JUN daily 10-18:30.
JUL to AUG daily 10-19:30.
SEP to NOV daily 10-18.
DEC daily 11-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 6.50, Children () EUR 3.20, Students EUR 5.50.
Groups (+): Adults EUR 5.50, Children () EUR 2.60.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Le Grotte du Sorcier, Saint Cirq, 24260 Le Bugue, Tel: 0553-071437, Fax: 0553-085671. 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.



The Sorcerer, Grotte du Sorcier, Vézère Valley, France. Public Domain.

The Grotte du Sorcier is located at the Roc de Saint-Cirq, an impressive cliff face in the small hamlet Saint-Cirq, halfway between Les Eyzies and Le Bugue. The cliff face is riddled with cave entrances and abris, many were used to built a house inside. The whole ensemble is renovated very carefully and the buildings are used for the show cave, one is the ticket office, another one contains the prehistoric museum, one is the toilet. Some buildings were constructed with dry walled limestone slabs, even the roof was covered by limestone slabs without the use of mortar.

The visit to the cave includes three parts. The first is an ascent to a hermits' cell, which is called "sportivé". Actually, there is an uneven staircase with huge steps, then a second staircase which is torn and half of it eroded away. The handrail is a rope. After entering the small natural cave above, which has an artificially excavated entrance, there is a wooden ladder in the middle of the cave. The cave leads up to a small hole in the ceiling, only 50 cm wide and 60 cm high. A crawl through this hole ends on the floor of a small quadratic chamber some 3m wide. It has numerous small windows and trenches with numerous sills along the walls and below the windows. Those sills show numerous bowl-shaped excavations, whose use remains a weird secret. The whole room was excavated artificially from the soft Cretaceous limestone. The use of the room remains unclear, the name used is just a modern interpretation. The age is most likely Medieval.

The second part is a nice museum inside one of the restored buildings. There is a movie shown about the most important sites of cave houses in the area, in French with english subtitles. There are exhibits of Cretaceous fossils, stone tools, copies of famous Paleolithic artworks, weapons, and tools. There are even some antiques and furniture.

The third part is the cave visit. The natural cave was a low passage, only about one meter high, which required crawling. It went in horizontally for about eight meters, then down two metres and a second horizontal part about six meters long. Engravings can be found from the entrance almost to the end of the cave. The first part contains bisons, deers, and horses.

The second part in the lower passage contains the most interesting engravings. The sorcerer is a human figure on a ledge, about 80 cm long, with the head to the left and the feet to the right, in an almost fetal position. It has a huge cock and only four fingers. The name sorcerer is probably wrong, it results from the fact that human figures are so rare, and generally they depict shamans with animal masks. This figure has a normal head and so it is probably no shaman at all. But it is really exceptional as there are only 14 human reprentations known, and this is one of only two complete figures, from head to feet. It is also the only one which can be visited.

Nearby is a tectiform, a geometric figure resembling a roof. And there is a bison with two female symbols. The hind legs form a triangle standing on one point and very slender, which is interpreted as a female vulva. The front legs are formed like a vertical almond with a line in the middle, which is a different, more concrete symbol of a vulva.

The cave is actually a huge chamber, nine by six meters big, with a trench at the end. This chamber was created artificially in the middle ages, when an abri, a shelter, was widened to create a cave house. The natural cave was more or less ignored, but the former floor of the cave is at the same level as the ceiling of the dugout, so it was removed completely. Today visistors can see the cave as a cupola at the ceiling on the right side of the chamber. The artificial changes have some drawbacks, some engravings have been destroyed for holes to fix beams. And the floor of the cave with all possibly existing archaeological content has also been destroyed.

The trench at the rear end allows a similar view to the engravings of the second part of the cave. However, the original cave floor is also destroyed and so it is not possible to see the sorcerer from the same perspective as the prehistoric artist. This trench is much younger and was created by the archaeologists, who discovered numerous human remains. It is also helpfull for the visitors, they have a better view, and in creating some distance between visitors and the engraving it allows guided tours, which would be impossible under more restricted conditions.