Grotte de Rouffignac

Situated below one of the highest plateaus in “Dark Perigord”, the Rouffignac Cave has been the home of bears and people since the Late Magdalenian about 13000 years ago.

The first thing that you see is a large cavern mouth which was originally explored in 1575 by Francois de Belleforest, it was known by the local people has “cluzeau”.

RouffignacThe cave grows larger when you pass through the entrance so there is no need to duck. One tip is to wear warm clothes on your visit, it is chilly inside.

It was not until 1956 when most of the drawings and bear scratch marks were discovered and recorded by L.R. Robert and L. Plassord. They found drawings of rhinoceros, horses, ibex, bison and mammoth as well as bear scratch marks on the walls leading to the “Great Ceiling” where they found the most detailed drawings of the above forenamed animals.

Inside the cave entrance there are two exhibitions, one displaying scenes from the cave walls and the other recordings of finding the art work in 1956. You can not take photographs inside the cave but you can buy reproductions, books, place mats etc. at the gift shop.
 
mammoth drawingsThis is the only cave in France which has mammoth drawings, on their own, in herds, some just quick sketches and some in detail, there are so many I lost count,
 
short legged horseA short legged horse with feathering effect for the mane and tail.
 
BisonBison with the artist signature of hands.

The visit is on board a small electric train, the journey gives you the feeling that you are descending back in time through the centuries past the “Bears dens” which are large hallows in the ground made by the bears going around and around in circles until they wore a depression comfortable enough to hibernate for the Winter months. Notice the stretch and scratch on the walls.

I must point out that bears lived in the cave centuries before humans, therefore they never met. Well, in this cave at least. It was several thousands of years later humans arrived in the caves. With only tallow lamps they explored the caves creating over two miles of art work in narrow constricted conditions. Using drawings or engravings the artists were able to use the caves to create outstanding artwork in such detail that you can see the animal features and fur. At the Great Ceiling the train stops allowing you to alight and investigate the artwork close up.
 

Les EyziesA sketch of “the Great Ceiling” that was drawn in 1982 by Claude Barrierre. It seems in a few places that the drawings were not up to the artists liking, so the artist drew over them, just like any artist would today.

The visit lasts approximately an hour, after the cold of the cave the sunshine was most welcome and a hot meal and drink in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac was great.

the Great CeilingThis is the famous statue by the museum of prehistory at Les Eyzies.

 

Summer is ending!

As Summer slowly passes in the Perigord I am reminded that one of my favourite things about living here is experiencing the advancing of the seasons. Each season arrives over a few weeks with gradual alterations to the countryside that makes watching the newly progressing season a constant treat. As summer winds down it brings cooler air in the mornings and more and more of the forest transforms to a wonderful rust coloured brown. It is still quite warm in the late Summer sun with temperatures in the higher twenties or lower thirties, but not the “wow I am so hot”, feeling that Paul and I have experienced over the last month or so. Eating alfresco and long walks are certainly more pleasant through the months of September and October.

“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favourite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
Stephen King, Salem’s Lot.

 

changing of the seasonFirst signs of Autumn, the falling leaves in the lane as we walk towards the old mill.
 

changing of the seasonThe old former mill in Daglan on a gorgeous late summer day.
 

changing of the seasonTaking a relaxing few minutes, watching the gentle steam of water go by. It is hard to believe that the water level in the Céou has reduced so significantly over the Summer months.
 

changing of the seasonThe Summer months have exposed the various islands in the Dordogne river at Castelnaud-la-Chapelle
 

changing of the seasonHeron hunting for fish it completely ignored Paul while he was taking this picture.
 

changing of the seasonThe chalk cliff face on our walk from Castelnaud-la-Chapelle to Milandes. Well to be honest that was my plan but I think on that particular day we walked half way then had to turn around and walk back. We need to get fitter.

September is the ideal month for visiting the Perigord, with much reduced tourist traffic and more comfortable temperatures. On that note we are having two lots of visitors to our home this month. The first is a friend whom I have known for at least thirty five years. It will be her first visit to the area and I am so looking forward to seeing her and showing her our gorgeous village of Daglan and the surrounding area. The second visit is from our son, so we have been making a list of things for him to see and experience, One or two of the many Cro-Magnon caves in the area are in order and canoeing on the Dordogne with Paul, while I sit on the bank, camera at the ready ;-)… or read my book.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America.

Montignac

On the D704, Montignac was once a busy river port that sits on the banks of the Vezere river, its wooden balconies reflect peacefully across the waters. Although feared for its ferocious counts in the Middle Ages, Montignac rose to fame in 1940, when a pit was discovered by some local boys and their dog. What they found was the nonpareil masterpiece of prehistoric cave paintings. The name of course was Lascaux.

Gorgeous examples of Medieval dwellings at the side of the river, which have been turned into restaurants and boutique shops.Medieval dwellings

All of the restaurants have outside space so that you can watch the river with its many ducks paddling by.watch the river

Flanagan’s Restaurant were Paul and I stopped for lunch.Flanagan’s Restaurant

I just had to take this picture of our desserts, delicious.delicious desserts

Events:-

Gastronomy and Taste Festival 26th and 27th September – Sarlat

Film Festival from 10th to the 14th November – Sarlat


Le Domme Express + Hidden Gems

These two “express” trains offer tourists a guided tour around Domme. The tour lasts about twenty minutes with visits to Porte des Tours (templar prison) and Panorama Maison du Gouverneur or the entrance to the caves of Porte Delbos, and of course the ramparts at Porte de la Combe.
Domme ExpressThe trains stop in the large car park below the Porte des Tours. It’s well worth hopping on there to save the steep climb up to the town.

Domme Express

Hidden Gems

Flying Plant PotThis is one of the hidden gems, it was only after several visits to Domme that I spotted it and just had to take a picture. If you look closely it seems that the large plant pot is precariously balancing right on the edge of the metal sign above the café next to the car park in Domme centre.

Ancient PlanterIf you have the time take a walk off the main street to wander the charming side roads you will find this gem of a planter. The knight’s templar fighting in the holly war.

Rouffignac

Rouffignac at Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin won’t be found in many of the local guide books, I do not know why! It is a hidden gem that is well worth a visit. The cave is about 50km North East of Bergerac not far form the Vézère Vallée.

Known as the “caves of mammoths”, because so many of its 250 engravings and line drawings of animals are of mammoths; with some drawings dated to about 14000 years old.

Paul just going into the cave
P1020516

There is a small gift shop at the entrance to the cave, information boards and pictures. The number of tickets is restricted so that you have to be there before 10.30 in July and August to buy a ticket for the same day. No reservations are available and you are not allowed to take photographs inside the cave, which is a pity.
P1020513

An electric train takes you on an hour-long tour of the caves (wear warm clothes, the temperature is about 13C but feels a lot colder)
Roufignac_train

The drawings are truly superb, not coloured but excellent representations of the mammoths and other animals which were roaming about the Perigord thousands of years ago.
Rouffignac1

This line drawing is one of my particular favourites, so much detail, it is awesome.
Rouffignac

The Grotte de Rouffignac official website

The cave is at 4 km south of Rouffignac village along the D32.
GPS Latitude : 45° 00′ 26″ x Longitude : 0° 59′ 16″