After a false (but scenic) start thanks to our Tom Tom, we finally found our way to the Caves of Lascaux. (Turns out the Caves of Lascaux are not near the village of Lascaux. Who knew?)
The original caves are no longer on display because humidity and dust from tourist foot traffic had faded the paintings and begun to grow mould on the walls, deteriorating the paintings. Instead, a perfect replica (we are told) was made that is now open to guided tours in multiple languages.
The story of the caves is that three young boys found them looking for their lost dog. At first they just thought it was a cave until one fell over on his back and look up at the ceiling.
The caves are of course now well lit, but when the boys discovered it, they had only torches. From about shoulder height up over the ceiling and down the other wall is covered in brightly coloured magnificent paintings of horses, stags and bulls. They are enormous and completely cover the space. The ceiling is probably about three metres from the ground, so it would have taken considerable effort to pain up there.
The boys were amazed, and decided to keep the cave as their special secret. They swore an oath never to disclose the caves to any others.
The oath lasted three days until a school teacher overheard them talking about and convinced them to show him. The caves are now a national treasure.
The paintings are believed to be from Neanderthal era, wandering tribes hunting and gathering across the European plains. Interestingly, reindeer were their staple diet and and trading animal, yet no reindeer are drawn in the cave. Reindeer fat along with birch twigs were however used to make a smokeless candle in the cave for the painters, so as not to damage the paintings as they were being painted. And the painters appear to have signed their paintings, with cryptic symbols.
For more infromation, the Lascaux II website is here and has a lot more images of the amazing paintings.
If you liked this post you might also like some more posts from France…..
Arrival in Paris
Caves of Lascaux
Standing Stones of Carnac
Les Grottos en France
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
Streets of Paris
Arc de Triomphe