Prehistoric cave art with Andante

By Joanne Kuzma
This item appears on page 30 of the June 2016 issue.
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In southwestern France, I took the tour “Dordogne — Prehistoric Cave Art” with Andante Travels (The Clock Tower, Unit 4, Oakridge Office Park, Southampton Rd., Whaddon, Salisbury, England, SP5 3HT, U.K.; in US, 888/331-3476, c), Sept. 7-14, 2015.

I had heard of the Lascaux cave, which was the main reason I went on this tour. However, I had no idea that there are hundreds of various caves and rock shelters in Western Europe that show signs of humans dating back 40,000 years.

We visited a variety of caves, including Bernifal, Rouffignac, Font-de-Gaume, Lascaux II, Cou­gnac and Pech Merle. We also saw various rock shelters, including Laugerie Haute and Abri du Poisson. We also went to about five museums and I enjoyed looking at the articles, but the signs were mostly in French.

Group members and archaeologist Ian Morley looking at reproductions of Neanderthal skulls. Photo by Joanne Kuzma

Pictures don’t do justice to these caves. You have to be there in order to get the full effect of how our ancestors must have felt thousands of years ago in the dark, painting beautiful drawings in very tight spaces.

My favorites were Lauscaux II and Cougnac. I know that Lauscaux II is a reproduction of about 30% of the original cave, but it was so well done that I thought I was in the real thing. Lascaux 4, a replica of almost the entire Lascaux system, is scheduled to open in June 2016.

One thing to remember is that no photography is allowed in any of these caves, not even in Lascaux II. 

Another nice thing about this tour is we were accompanied by Ian Morley, an Oxford archaeologist, who provided really good insights into the caves and prehistoric living. We also had two evening lectures by him. 

The 8-day, 7-night tour cost $3,760 plus a single supplement of $550. This included the Eurostar from London to France, hotels, three meals a day, a tour manager, the archaeologist and all site entry fees. 

The first five days were spent in the quaint village of Les Eyzies, where we stayed at Hôtel Le Centenaire (2, avenue du Cingle, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sereuil; www.hotelducentenaire.fr/?lang=en). 

Located right at the edge of the village, this hotel was quiet and had huge rooms and a very friendly staff. The breakfast buffet featured a wide range of hot and cold items, not just the normal items found in Continental breakfasts.

On each of those five days, our group of 22 normally left the hotel on a large bus about 8:30 a.m., toured several prehistoric sites, had lunch at a restaurant, took an afternoon tour and returned to the hotel about 5:30 p.m. 

Overall, it was a fantastic experience being in the caves and imagining what life was like 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. 

JOANNE KUZMA

Erie, PA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In southwestern France, I took the tour “Dordogne — Prehistoric Cave Art” with Andante Travels (The Clock Tower, Unit 4, Oakridge Office Park, Southampton Rd., Whaddon, Salisbury, England, SP5 3HT, U.K.; in US, 888/331-3476, c), Sept. 7-14, 2015.

I had heard of the Lascaux cave, which was the main reason I went on this tour. However, I had no idea that there are hundreds of various caves and rock shelters in Western Europe that show signs of humans dating back 40,000 years.

We visited a variety of caves, including Bernifal, Rouffignac, Font-de-Gaume, Lascaux II, Cou­gnac and Pech Merle. We also saw various rock shelters, including Laugerie Haute and Abri du Poisson. We also went to about five museums and I enjoyed looking at the articles, but the signs were mostly in French.

Group members and archaeologist Ian Morley looking at reproductions of Neanderthal skulls. Photo by Joanne Kuzma

Pictures don’t do justice to these caves. You have to be there in order to get the full effect of how our ancestors must have felt thousands of years ago in the dark, painting beautiful drawings in very tight spaces.

My favorites were Lauscaux II and Cougnac. I know that Lauscaux II is a reproduction of about 30% of the original cave, but it was so well done that I thought I was in the real thing. Lascaux 4, a replica of almost the entire Lascaux system, is scheduled to open in June 2016.

One thing to remember is that no photography is allowed in any of these caves, not even in Lascaux II. 

Another nice thing about this tour is we were accompanied by Ian Morley, an Oxford archaeologist, who provided really good insights into the caves and prehistoric living. We also had two evening lectures by him. 

The 8-day, 7-night tour cost $3,760 plus a single supplement of $550. This included the Eurostar from London to France, hotels, three meals a day, a tour manager, the archaeologist and all site entry fees. 

The first five days were spent in the quaint village of Les Eyzies, where we stayed at Hôtel Le Centenaire (2, avenue du Cingle, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sereuil; www.hotelducentenaire.fr/?lang=en). 

Located right at the edge of the village, this hotel was quiet and had huge rooms and a very friendly staff. The breakfast buffet featured a wide range of hot and cold items, not just the normal items found in Continental breakfasts.

On each of those five days, our group of 22 normally left the hotel on a large bus about 8:30 a.m., toured several prehistoric sites, had lunch at a restaurant, took an afternoon tour and returned to the hotel about 5:30 p.m. 

Overall, it was a fantastic experience being in the caves and imagining what life was like 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. 

JOANNE KUZMA

Erie, PA