Lascaux II – Country Roads of France

The western edges of the Massif Central and the northern slopes of the Pyrenees are noted for an excellent concentration of Palaeolithic caves.  Lascaux is set a little further away from the traditional sites, but is the most famous of these early Stone Age caves.  When you get there, you’ll hear the story of how four teenage boys stumbled upon Lascaux in 1940 on a day’s outing.  They knew that their discovery was important and decided to keep it a secret … for four days, and finally told their teacher.  This then evolved into perhaps the greatest archaelogical find in the 20th century.   After the war, work was carried out to widen the entrance and lower the floor so that tourists could visit.  By 1955 deterioration of the paintings began to show and by April 1963 the Ministry of Culture decided to close Lascaux to visitors and Lascaux II was then created to replicate Lascaux.

What’s so amazing about the cave paintings at Lascaux is the proportions of the animals painted are very accurate and that the artist worked with the contours of the cave walls to create perspective.  In the Great Hall of the Bulls you’ll see really impressive examples of Palaeolithic art.  Lascaux II has been beautifully created and in itself is a work of art. The details of how it was built are particularly interesting, they went to so much trouble to ensure accuracy, especially the artist who recreated the paintings using original materials and methods over many years.

Only two of the four early discoverers are alive today and each year on September 12, they come to the town for a commemorative ceremony.

Note that it is cold in the caves (even during our September visit) and cameras are not allowed.  Lascaux II is definitely worth a visit, even though it’s only a replica it feels real.

Helen Page 

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