Thursday, May 28 - Lascaux II and Rouffignac

Today we went to see some of the prehistoric (~15,000 BC) caves of the Dordogne. We started with a lecture on the prehistoric art of the Perigord by Brigitte Bourjade at 8:45 and then set off for the caves at 10.

Lascaux is probably the best known of the caves with prehistoric art, but there are hundreds of others in France and elsewhere. Lascaux has been closed to avoid damage by tourist's presence but a very accurate reconstruction called Lascaux II was our first objective, near the town of Montignac. Unfortunately no photographs were allowed here or in the other place were to go, the Grotto at Rouffignac, so I have included a few post cards of each.

Lascaux II was very realistic and we had a very good local guide. It is so well known I won't try to describe it, but we were thoroughly impressed. The art had a high degree of sophistication, given the limited technology of the time and the difficulty of working deep in the caves with only weak oil lamps for light. We bought a book about the art at the shop.

After that we went down the Vezere river to the town of Les Eyzies for lunch. This town is the center of an area rich in prehistoric art. The town itself is built right up against the cliff face. We ate at L'Hostellerie du Passeur and then were off to visit Grotto Rouffignac. This is privately owned and open to the public. It has only line drawings but they are as sophisticated as the art at Lascaux. These drawings were known from the 15th C, but thought to be modern. Their significance was pointed out only in 1956. The cave is quite deep and we were taken in for more than a kilometer on a small train. It was quite fascinating and I have included post cards.

After this we took something of a bus trip through the valley of the Vezere. One of the interesting things about the region is how, in the past, people built right into the many caves in cliff faces, sometimes whole villages. We stopped to see some remains of this at Roque St Christophe and then went on to the village of St Leon sur Vezere. This village is renowned for its beauty and simplicity and it was a treat to wander around, look at the cottages, visit the church and see the river. The roses in May were magnificent. Later the bus driver suggested a short detour through another village but I don't remember the name. It was a great day, even though I have few pictures to show for it.

We got back late to the hotel but we took the time for a relaxing glass of wine before dinner. Then we were on our own and we went in to a restaurant on the Place de la Liberte in Sarlat and had omelets. The ever-present three course meals were beginning to overwhelm us.

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