Pre-Historic Caves and Grottes of Les Eyzies and the Dordogne
Caves and Grottes of the Dordogne
The pre-historic caves and grottes of the Dordogne play a significant role in the history of both the area and Cro-Magnon man – the first early modern humans who lived 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. The first sample of Cro-Magnon man was discovered in the town of Les Eyzies – de Taynac (or just Les Eyzies) in the heart of the Dordogne. There are hundreds of caves and grottes across the Dordogne region, here we have listed the most important ones and have given the caves of Les Eyzies their own section as there are so many in this area.
While visiting the pre-historic caves and grottes in Les Eyzies make sure you take time to visit the National Pre-History Museum – it is a fascinating glimpse in to man’s past.
Main Caves and Grottes In The Dordogne Region
Lascaux II | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
The most important pre-historic grottes or caves in France, the Lascaux caves, are one of the highlights of a trip to the Dordogne. Discovered in 1940 by four boys searching for their dog these caves are the highlight of a visit to the area.
The original caves were damaged by the number of visitors and closed in 1963 to stop further damage. In 1983 Lascaux II was open which is an exact copy of the original. It is so realistic you unless you were told it was a re-production you simply would not know. The paintings are almost all of animals and the colour and detail used is amazing.
La Roque Saint Christophe | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
About halfway between Le Bugue and Montignac is the pre-historic troglodyte town of La Roque Saint Christophe which sits 90 metres above the River Vezere.
These pre-historic shelters and grottes and were once home to an entire village and as you walk along it you can see remains of the forge, the church and other buildings.
Gouffre de Proumeyssac | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
Near Le Bugue, the pre-historic caves and grottes at Proumeyssac are highly renowned. The main feature is the enormous ‘Cathedral of Crystal’ – a stunning, huge and beautifully lit cavern. You can pay extra and enter by a the same method as the original visitors – a suspended basket, now motorised but originally lowered by a horse. The caves and grottes are expertly lit to highlight the spectacular rock formations. As well as the caves and grottes there is a picnic area, a bookshop and bar and a forest trail and a geological area. For more information visit Gouffre de Proumeyssac.
Les Grottes de Maxange | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
Discovered in 2000, these pre-historic caves and grottes at Le Buisson de Cadouin are now open to the public. Special focus has been given to the lighting of the formations of the spectacular rock formations within the caves.
Gouffre de Padirac | Caves and Grottes
The Gouffre de Padirac is the favourite pre-historic caves and grottes of many in the Dordogne area. The cave is entered by boat. A great one for the kids.
Grotte de Villars | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
A great spectacle of lighting and water bring these caves and grottes to life, and truly show the various rock formations at their best. There are also renowned pre-historic paintings, including an unusual pre-historic painting of a person (usually only animals were painted in prehistoric paintings) to see.
Grotte de Cougnac | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
This has both a natural cave with a ceiling of very fine stalactites and a cave with prehistoric paintings. It is 18km from Sarlat.
Grotte de Domme | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
These caves are underneath the village of Domme allowing you to visit the caves and visit one of France’s most beautiful villages at the same time.
Troglodyte houses at Belves Dordogne
Underneath the main square of Belves there is a pre-historic troglodyte village in grottes which is very interesting to visit and Belves is also one of France’s most beautiful villages.
Troglodyte Fort at La Roque Gageac | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
These are cliff side dwellings, dating from the 12th century, rather than underground caverns, and are found 40 metres up the cliffs at La Roque-Gageac on the Dordogne River.
Grotte de Rouffignac | Dordogne Caves and Grottes
An electric train takes you into a pre-historic cavern where you will find engravings of mammoths, rhinoceros, horses and bison.
Grotte des Merveilles at Rocamadour | Caves and Grottes
This cave contains both prehistoric drawings and stalactites and stalagmites. It is also near to the historic town of Rocamadour, one of the key sites of France.
Grotte de Lacave | Caves and Grottes
This natural cave is entered on a small electric train taking you to a large cave with an impressive display of stalactites and stalagmites. Lacave is near to Martel and Souillac.
Les Eyzies | Caves and Grottes
L’abri Pataud Les Eyzies | Dordogne
L’abri Pataud cave is in the centre of Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac and was lived in by pre-historic Cro-Magnon between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. Many of the items found during archeological digs can be seen in the neighbouring museum of pre-histoy. which show cases many pre-historic artifacts.
Grotte de Font de Gaume Les Eyzies | Dordogne
The Font de Gaume cave, just over 1 km east of Les Eyzies on the D47 has a superb collection of pre-historic paintings. To protect the pre-historic paintings visitor numbers in the cave are limited and in peak season it is best to make a reservation before visiting these caves. It is advisable to book ahead if you wish to visit this cave and grottes.
L’Abri du Cap Blanc near Les Eyzies | Dordogne
9 km east of Les Eyzies this pre-historic natural rock shelter contains frieze of pre-historic horses and bison. It is considered to be the best example of sculpture of the Middle Magdalenian period in France.
Grotte de Combarelles near Les Eyzies | Dordogne
This pre-historic cave, 3km north-east of Les Eyzies contains engravings of pre-historic animals and some human figures .
Les Grottes du Roc de Cazelle Les Eyzies | Dordogne
Also to the east of Les Eyzies are caves and grottes of les Grottes du roc de Cazelle which were lived in by pre-historic man and then turned into a fortified house in the Middle Ages.
La Grotte de Bernifal Les Eyzies | Dordogne
This pre-historic cave and grottes is home to both pre-historic paintings and stalactites and stalagmites. It is only open from July to September.
South of Les Eyzies
Grotte de Bara Bahau near Les Eyzies | Dordogne
Pre-Historic cave and grottes system 2km north of Le Bugue, with lots of animal pictures carved into the walls.
Le Gouffre de Proumeyssac near Les Eyzies | Dordogne
A wonderful natural cave and grottes full of stalactites and stalagmites.
North of Les Eyzies
Grotte du Grand Roc Les Eyzies | Dordogne
A few kilometres north-west of Les Eyzies the pre-historic Grottes du Grand Roc caves contain amazing stalactites and stalagmites.
Laugerie-Basse NW Les Eyzies | Dordogne
North-west of Les-Eyzies and adjacent to the Grottes du Grand Roc, Laugerie Basse is a pre-historic cave type shelter used by Cro-Magnon man.
Les abris de Castel-Merle (near Les Eyzies Dordogne)
There are several pre-historic shelters, some containing engravings and sculptures. There is also a museum on-site.
L’abri de la Madelaine (near Les Eyzies Dordogne)
Another pre-historic shelter.
Le Conquil | Dordogne
Le Conquil is a park with troglodyte dwellings. It also has a dinosaur park for children and a tree adventure course.
Le Thot | Dordogne
Le Thot are not caves, grottes or a troglodyte dwelling but it is a centre of interest for the Cro-Magnon period. There is an excellent museum of pre-history including some copies of paintings from the Lascaux caves that cannot be seen at Lascaux II. There is also a park with animal species related to those which roamed the earth at the same time as Cro-Magnon man.
Le Préhistoparc de Tursac (near Les Eyzies Dordogne)
Again not a cave or grotte but a park presenting scenes of interest related to Cro-Magnon man.