Lascaux IV

All these animals that seems to be leaping out of the walls, full of life, it was indescribable. Simon Coencas one of the finders in 1940.

We have visited Lascaux II three times so it was a real treat to find out that a coach trip from Daglan would be visiting the new Lascaux IV. It would be organised by La Municipalite et le Club de I’Amitie and would be taking place on the 27th January. I think that we can speak for all of the people who attended on the two coaches, it was a brilliant excursion.

Unearthed in the middle of a World War 2 by four teenagers, Lascaux almost disappeared, a victim of its immense popularity. Now protected by the State the cave can again be viewed as magnificent replicas.

The building nestles at the foot of the hill of Lascaux like an incision into the landscape. A little like a rock shelter in the Vezere Valley in the epoch of the Upper Palaeolithic. Created by an Norwegian Architect Kjetil Traedal Thorsen co-founder and co-director of the Snohetta Office.

Lascaux IV.

The result: there are no apparent pillars on the transparent facade. An 8,600 square metre landscape building blending into the hill; 150 metres long and only 8 meters high, it fits snugly into the topography.

At the start of the tour we were given a tablet with head phones so that we could listen to commentary of the very knowledgeable tour guide and to extra information in your own language. The tablet can also be used to access more detail such as 3D maps of the cave system and includes a built in camera which I think is a brilliant idea.

At first we were taken to the top of the building where we could walk and admire the view of the valley on one side and the forest on the other. Then we were taken via a small tunnel to the ‘path of discovery room’, so that each visitor is drawn into the heart of a prehistoric forest displayed on a large screen, using sound environments and 3D visuals. It ends of course with the finders of the cave the four boys and Robot the dog.

Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Simon Coencas and Georges Agriel who found the cave in 1940.

At first they did not see the paintings. They walked past the enormous bulls painted onto the vault over head so it was not until they had reached the Axial gallery that the boys discovered by the light of a torch a procession of red cows, deer and black and yellow horses painted onto a background of white calcite.

The pigments used were yellow, brown and red ochres, iron and manganese, that the artists gathered from the environment before mixing them into a palette of about twenty colours which are unique to the Prehistoric Period.

One of the Aurochs or Giant Bulls, which is one of our favourites due to the vivid colours and the detail in the painting.

Visitors pass through the Hall of Bulls and then the Axial Gallery, before going into the Nave to discover the paintings that have not been reproduced in Lascaux II. A total of 1,963 paintings approximately 20,000 years old were completed by the original Master Artists of the Southern Period of the Palaeolithic Era.

Workshops consist of interactive tablets and panels of the reproduced cave paintings which are a brilliant way to study the workmanship of the artists who produced these magnificent paintings. The artists used 3D scanners with laser technology to compile and process the information to from a 3 dimensional digital reconstruction of the rock.

There is also a 130 seater cinema with two screens front and ceiling. Plus a large souvenir shop selling everything from books, T-shirts, cups etc. to whiskey.

From the Axial Gallery a red cow with a black head. Which looks similar to Egyptian Art, showing a side view with all of the details.

“What these people achieved twenty thousand years ago, with the limited means that they had and under those conditions, is incredible”. Francis Ringenbach.

Falling horses. Their knowledge of using the rock to the ultimate effect. In the cave it looks like the horse is falling into a pit or hole.

The total budget: 57 million euros to create Lascaux IV, with 33 million euros provided by the Department and French State. They receive up to 4000 visitors per day during the Summer months.

Write it into your to do list when you visit the Perigord. It is well worth a visit or two.


What could be better than hot chocolate for breakfast?

Hot chocolate and pain au raisin of course.

We often have breakfast at Pâtisserie Massoulier on our morning visits to Sarlat. It was so cold and foggy last Saturday that a hot chocolate drink was especially needed to warm us up a little, it was such a welcome treat before we set off to slowly roam around in the market.

Totally delicious.

We usually see Glinglin directing traffic around Sarlat centre.

Today however, he was directing people around the market with a traffic cone loud speaker. He is such a joy to see and so funny.

The covers were up on the market stalls to protect against the Autumn chill of the morning. Which thankfully did not last too long before the sun came out and reached a temperature of 22C.

I can never resist taking a picture of “Le Badaud” the relaxed onlooker gazing out across Sarlat Medieval Quarter. The sculpture by Gérard Auliac and can be seen looking out over the Place de la  Liberté.

Installation of Julien Lombardi at Sainte-Marie Fountain.
Paul saw an animal painting on the back wall but I saw a landscape scene! Whatever it is the light really helped to illuminate the painting.

Carried out within the framework of the Residences of Art, Sarlat – October 2017
This installation is based on an exploration scene of the Cuze underground canals passing under Sarlat.

The Imaginary Museum
October 7 to November 19,2017
Hotel Plamon – rue des Consuls and Fontaine Sainte-Marie
Free entrance from Monday to Sunday from 10am to 7pm
and group reservations
Heritage Service – City of Sarlat
05 53 29 82 98 / 05 53 29 86 68


Eco Friendly, Visitor Powered Caves.

One of the many tourist attractions in the Perigord are the caves at Le Gouffre de Proumeyssac which now invites visitors to participate in producing electricity to help power the amazing Cathedral of Crystal. Pedalling on a “Velwatte” bike-generator before or after their visit to the Caves for an average of ten minutes will produce around 8 watts of power.

The eco friendly bikes form part of the site’s commitment to lowering its environmental impact for which it received the NF Environment Eco label in 2016.

The “Cathedral of Crystal”, with its stunning light effects are open everyday.

Discovered in 1907 and opened to the public in 1924, it is the largest cave in the Perigord and listed as a “site of picturesque interest” since 1991. In the Summer it will be holding a concert by Jean Claude Borelly in the heart of the Cathedral of Crystal.

Events :-

Brocante, Sarlat this Saturday the 27th May
Brocante, Daglan 3rd and 4th June at the Salle des Fêtes

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.