Category Archives: Things to Do

Ancient History

My son’s godmother had but one request when she came to visit:  Please, please, please could we go to the Caves at Lascuax to see the paintings there?  What is a good host to say but “Yes, of course.”?

Having been to Montignac while we were house-hunting (nice town, dump of a property) I knew basically where the Caves were and that the Cro-Magnon Museum at Les Eyzies is only a half-hour’s drive away from Lascaux.  As Montignac is about an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Sainte-Foy-La-Grande it made perfect sense to do both at the same time, so we made a day trip of it.

We went first to Les Eyzies, where the very impressive Cro-Magnon Museum can be found, partly built into the cliffs.   Often when one goes to museums in countries where you don’t speak the native tongue you fear that you won’t get as much from the experience as you might like to.  I was delighted to find that the Cro-Magnon Museum is set out in such a way that visitors really don’t need much French to truly appreciate the wonders exhibited there.  We browsed the galleries and really appreciated the fabulous video reconstructions that they have on tool making and the creation of works of  art and religious artifacts.  You can easily spend a couple of hours here.

Les Eyzies is very quiet out-of-season.  So much so that there were few places open for lunch so we headed on to Montignac to see if we could sate Mo’s incredible appetite for crepes.  Sadly, we were blighted by the same winter dearth of places to eat, but enjoyed a passable meal of duck confit in a restaurant with tables overlooking the river.

Then we set off to the caves at Lascaux for Gina’s treat.  We arrived just before the ticket office re-opened after lunch and enjoyed a quick stroll around the area.  If you get the opportunity to go there then I recommend that you walk up the road that runs through the complex as at the top it opens up onto a fabulous vista of the area.

The gift shop has some very nice items for sale.  I recommend picking up a couple of postcards as there is no opportunity to take photos inside the caves.

The caves at Lascaux that are open to the public are in fact  facsimiles of the originals.  The originals have been sealed off as human interference has caused the paintings to deteriorate.  That notwithstanding, the recreation is excellent.  Our guide was a soft, but clearly, spoken gentleman.  The tour is only given in French and there are no portable headsets available for non-French speakers to follow along in their own tongue but, actually, we really didn’t find that we needed a translation.  The gestures that our guide made to demonstrate some of the techniques used were sufficient for us to understand the crux of what he had to say.  The artistry of our ancestors is unmistakable and the pictures are vibrant in both colour and life.

I am pleased to say that even the teenage boy enjoyed the outing, although not half as much as his godmother, I am sure.    This is most definitely a must-do trip if you find yourself in the area.