Saturday, 11 August 2012
Explore Lascaux II
For anyone remotely interested in history and especially pre-history, a visit to Lascaux II is a must. Lascaux II is a copy of the Grotte of Lascaux which is situated approximately 200 m away from the original cave, up a hill overlooking Montignac which is a charming village in the Vézère valley.
Lascaux II opened in July 1983 and is the exact copy in three dimensions of the Lascaux cave which was closed to the public in 1963. At the time the accumulated breath (i.e carbon dioxide) of the thousands of visitors flocking to view the beautiful paintings caused the temperature to rise and the condensation forming on the walls as well as the algae they brought in on their shoes affected the cave and caused 2 separate diseases "the green leprosy" and the "white disease" (i.e. calcite crystals) which started to cover the paintings.
The only solution was to close the original Lascaux to the public and tackle the diseases. They managed to eradicate the green leprosy but could not get rid completely of the problem caused by the carbon dioxide. The cave was closed and the replica built. To this day only a few people are allowed to visit the original cave and only with special permission. Two galleries have been reproduced "The Bulls Hall" and the "Axial Recess" gathering 90% of the paintings of the original all made 17,000 years ago.
Being very interested in archaeology, I had always wanted to visit Lascaux II, but in the past had been put off by some comments made on certain websites. Finally since I had some friends staying with us for a holiday, I decided to take the plunge! I certainly do not regret it the visit lasted about 45 minutes and was conducted in English (my husband and friends do not unfortunately speak French!) and it was really an amazing experience. The beauty and sensitivity of the paintings cannot be conveyed with words. These Cro-Magnon men were very much modern men like us and it is evident in their carvings and paintings that they had an amazing knowledge of their surroundings and had extraordinary painting skills. I would highly recommend the visit and it is only and hour or so away from Bergerac.
A word of warning though! You can only buy your tickets in the town of Montignac near the Office de Tourisme which is situated near the church. Follow the blue panel located on the side of the church as seen on the photo below.