Grotte de Font de Gaume

Top choice in The Dordogne

This extraordinary cave contains the only original polychrome (as opposed to single-colour) paintings still open to the public. About 14,000 years ago, prehistoric artists created the gallery of more than 200 delicately engraved, painted figures, including bison, reindeer, horses, and mammoths, although only about 25 are included in the fantastically atmospheric tour. Look out for the famous Chapelle des Bisons, a scene of courting reindeer and stunningly realised horses, several caught in mid-movement.

Font de Gaume is such a rare and valuable site that there is always talk of the cave being closed for its own protection. Visitor numbers are limited to 78 per day, and as of our last visit, it was no longer possible to reserve in advance. Unless you come out of season, you must line up very early to get a ticket (only one per person). Guided tours are in English twice a day in summer.

The ticket office and cave are 1km east of Les Eyzies on the D4.

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