Lascaux 4 - a new prehistoric experience!
A longstanding highlight of our Dordogne Tour is the Lascaux caves - a world heritage site famed for its stunning prehistoric cave paintings.
In the Dordogne village of Montignac, the story of the discovery of the perhaps the most haunting example of prehistoric art has entered local folklore.
On 8 September 1940, a local youth, Marcel Ravidat, was out with his dog, Robot, when it chased a rabbit into a hole in the ground. The 17-year-old rescued his pet, and returned a few days later with three friends to explore what appeared to be an underground cavern. Clambering down, they entered a grotto where the flickering light of their oil lamp lit upon a painting of a bull.
Ravidat had stumbled across what became known as Lascaux, a of subterranean caves decorated with drawings and paintings dating back 22,000 years to the palaeolithic era.
The depictions of horses, bulls, bison, goats, deer, cows, as well as lions, a bear, a rhinoceros and even a unicorn were so strikingly beautiful that Henri Breuil, the pre-eminent expert on prehistoric sites, declared the grotto was a “prehistoric Sistine chapel”.
The opening of Lascaux Cave after World War II changed the cave environment. The exhalations of 1,200 visitors per day, presence of light, and changes in air circulation have created a number of problems. Lichens and crystals began to appear on the walls in the late 1950s, leading to closure of the caves in 1963. Lascaux II, a replica of the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery located 200 meters away from the original, was opened in 1983, so that visitors may view the painted scenes without harming the originals. Now that site has also been adversely affected by the large numbers of visitors, a second, larger, recreation has been built representing the whole of the original site, recreating it in the smallest detail using original painting techniques. The visitor centre will also have interactive displays and a 3-D theatre, and promises to be a stunning experience.
The centre opens 15/12/2016. We will, of course, feature the new centre as part of our Dordogne tour! The video below gives an idea of how the new exhibition will look. It's in French, but you will get the idea!