Prehistoric Art and Lascaux 4 in the Dordogne
Do you know the best attractions in the Dordogne? Elyse and Annie share their favorites with this great list that will get you started in your own discovery of Prehistoric Art and Lascaux 4 in the Dordogne; as well as early human shelters and amazing chateaux.
This area is called the Périgord Noir and we find it is one of the best areas to visit for a family vacation. The question is, there are so many attractions to see, how do you choose? As you drive around the countryside (and this is definitely driving country!) you will constantly see signs for museums, prehistoric shelters, historical farms, plus castles that you can visit. In this episode we talk about the ones we think are definitely worth a visit and why.
We’ve talked about this area before. For a more historical discussion on Sarlat and the Perigord Noir, also listen to Episode 46 about Sarlat, Lascaux and the Dordogne
Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
What You Will Learn About in this Episode
- 6’50 Some people find it hard to say the word “Dordogne”, here’s how you say it. Dordogne is the name of both a river and of the Department.
- 7’56 The Dordogne is very popular with British people, due to in part historical factors, but it is growing in popularity for everyone. Elyse says “it’s civilized”. Annie says there’s a castle at the top of every hill.
- 8’47 The Dordogne, like the Loire Valley, is an area of France where there are a lot of castles. It is also the capital of pre-history in France.
- 9’47 Why this area is also called the Périgord and the various areas of the Périgord. You will also run into sub-sections of the Périgord: the Périgord Noir, the Périgord Blanc, the Périgord Pourpre, the Périgord Vert, and the Quercy.
- 14′ Annie and Brenda visited the Vallée de l’Homme aka Vallée de la Vézère. The Vallèe de la Vézère, the whole valley, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 15’46 There are tours you can take in English in July and August, not so much the rest of the year.
- Some of the names you need to know to understand this area: Les Eyzies (Musée National de la Préhistoire), Font-de-Gaume (painted cave, really hard to get into, book a year in advance via their website, do not call their information number!), Combarelles (painted cave), Cap-Blanc (shelter with sculpted magdalenian animals), Laugerie Haute (where they found a lot of prehistoric tools) et Laugerie Basse (prehistoric shelter), and, the most famous of all, Lascaux (painted prehistoric art) in the town of Montignac.
- 16’34 The word “abri” means shelter. Description of prehistoric shelters.
- 18′ Many of these prehistoric shelters were inhabited up until the Middle Ages, so when you go, you mostly see troglodytes from the Middle Ages. Cap-Blanc is the exception to that, it wasn’t inhabited by many waves of peoples, so you can see prehistoric items better, even though many of them were taken to various museums.
- 19′ Prehistoric peoples lived in shallow grottoes, they did not live deep in caves. “Caveman” is a misnomer. They used deep caves for ritualistic art.
- 21′ France, and particularly the South-West of France, is fortunate that we have so much prehistoric art left, but it is possible this sort of art was done in many areas of Europe.
- 21’43 The Valley of the Vézère is also very beautiful because there are also a lot of beautiful old villages with old churches and castle. Some are big fortified castles, some are not. The Château de Losse is not fortified, but it’s lovely.
- 23′ Elyse loves the village of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère with its gorgeous Romanesque chapel with frescoes in it and a couple of lovely little restaurants.
- 24’38 This area has long had a policy to make life easy for visitors, so the infrastructure is ready for you.
- 25’40 Annie was not impressed with the village of Les Eyzies, but it’s an important stop because the Musée National de la Préhistoire is there, Font-de-Gaume is there, Cap-Blanc is there.
- 26′ There are two major prehistory museums in France. The one in Les Eyzies and the other in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
- 27’30 The Musée National de la Préhistoire is a lovely museum, but it’s the type of museum where you have a lot of objects on display. There are some amazing objects there, but it’s probably not a place that children will love.
- 29’28 The Font-de-Gaume cave problem: You either have to buy your tickets months in advance, or queue up on the morning you want to visit and take whatever time slot they have left that day. Do not call their phone number or you will be redirected to 118-018 which is a pay number. I called twice, never talked to a human, and it cost me 50€ on my cell phone bill.
- 32’30 Each cave and site you visit specializes in something different, one aspect of prehistoric art or culture.
- 33’30 The history of the Lascaux cave. Lascaux 1 is the original, nobody goes into that. Lascaux 2 is the first reproduction, situated close to where the original site was. Lascaux 3 is a traveling exhibition stationed in Asia right now. Lascaux 4 is the latest reproduction + museum complex that opened in December 2016. It is amazing, a must-see!
- 38’25 Kids love the tablets at Lascaux 4 because it is interactive and the children were really engaged.
- 39′ Virtual reality at Lascaux 4 was a great experience.
- 41’50 If you only see one thing in the Dordogne, make it Lascaux 4!
- 43’30 The smart way to plan your days in the Dordogne.
- 44’20 You will also see a lot of opportunities to go canoeing and going up in a hot air baloon.
- 44’50 There are also chateaux in the Dordogne, let’s talk about the château of Beynac-et-Cazenac and the château de Castelnaud in the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle.
- 47′ Why there are so many castles along the Dordogne river: a recap of the history.
- 50’49 The château of Beynac-et-Cazenac description: this is one of the best preserved fortified castles in France, definitely a must-see.
- 57′ La-Roque-Gageac (nice place for a boat ride on a flat-bottom boat there)
- 58′ The château at Castelnaud is great, it is a museum of lots of medieval weapons, another must-see!
- 61′ You need at least 3 nights. Sarlat and Montignac are great places to stay, we discuss several options.
- 63′ Plus beaux villages de France disagreement. Understand that some of them have zero to offer other than the charm of the streets. The one that was underwhelming to Annie was Saint-Amand-de-Coly.
- 68′ Jardins de Marqueyssac, lots of topiary.
- 72′ The name Annie couldn’t remember was La-Roque-Saint-Christophe, a great “abri” you can visit and Le Thot is nearby.
- 75’15 Don’t fret about getting into the city center of Paris: use a taxi, an Uber, look up Le Bus Direct, or take the RER. Your options are detailed here.
- 78′ Release schedule: Saturday for new episodes, Wednesday for the newsletter with photos and extras.
- 80′ July 30th 2017 La Traversée de Paris à l’ancienne. La Tour Saint Jacques is open to the public.
- 84′ French Tip of the Week: J’ai le temps, je suis en vacances !
- 85′ Feedback about renting an apartment in France from Dave Walsh.
- 86′ Copyright information.
When it comes to Prehistoric Art in the Dordogne, we think that the one place you cannot skip is Lascaux 4. Beyond that, you will need to make a lot of choices and hopefully today’s detailed descriptions of what you can expect to find in the Dordogne will make that easier for you. And if you’d like to get Annie’s list of Dordogne attractions when it’s ready, sign-up for the extras!
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