fun things to do with kids vezere valley france   Travel for Kids
  | The Dordogne

Prehistoric sites – Vezere Valley


Lascaux II (Montignac) – In 1940, four teenagers stumbled into the painted caves of Lascaux. They found exquisite Paleolithic paintings of horses, stags, wild oxen in red, black and earthy yellow pigments. Archeologists believe the caves were used for hunting and magic rituals from 15,000-13,000 BC.

    In 1963, the caves were closed to the public, due to the deterioration of the delicate cave paintings. Today you can visit Lascaux II, a stunning replica of two caves, The Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery. In the Great Hall of the Bulls, a two-horned creature is chasing a bunch of horses in one direction, wild oxen are rushing off in another direction. The artistry of the Painted Gallery is so fine it's called "the Sistine Chapel" of prehistoric art. For a virtual tour of the complete Lascaux caves, click here.
      Note: In high season, July and August, the tickets for Lascaux are quickly snapped up. Purchase your tickets from the Montignac-Lascaux tourist office, or call in advance 05 53 51 82 60.
    Le Thot (Thonac) – Along with your visit to Lascaux, check out Le Thot, a prehistoric theme park that re-creates Cro-Magnon life 30,000 years ago. You'll see live animals that would have lived in prehistoric times such as bison, stags, Przewalski's horse, and an animatronics mammoth that roars. Imagine bedding down in a cozy lean-to made out of animal skins (might be cold on rainy nights.) Don't miss the film about Lascaux and the kids who discovered it.
    La Roque Saint-Christophe – Visit the "troglodyte village," cliff dwellings since the Paleolithic era. In the Middle Ages, homey improvements were built into the cliff, wooden structures that include a kitchen and smokehouse. From the village, you get a fine view of the Vezere River below.
    Prehistoparc (Tursac) – This outdoor prehistory park has life-size dioramas of prehistoric people – Neanderthals stalking a stag, hunting a woolly rhinoceros, killing a mammoth, bringing home the food, domestic scenes of Cro-Magnon life.
      Also in Tursac is Site de la Madeleine, another troglodyte village, occupied from the 11th -19th century.
Les Eyzies-de-Tayac – In 1868, the first Cro-Magnon skeletons were discovered near the village, and the whole area is riddled with caves and prehistoric sites.
Font de Gaume
    Grotte du Grand Roc – The beauty of this cave is an amazing display of spiky stalactites and stalagmites, fantastic accretions in all shapes and sizes, including triangles.
    Grotte de Font-de-Gaume – Like Lascaux, the cave paintings in the Grotte de Font de Gaume are extraordinary. Unlike Lascaux II, these are the real thing, not a reconstruction. (If you can't get tickets for Lascaux, this cave is a good alternative.)
      Musee National de Prehistoire (National Prehistory Museum)The museum, housed in an old chateau, has a collection of beautifully flaked stone tools, bone implements, and skeletons of extinct animals. Find out how to make your own stone points (you'll need a supply of flint). There's a complete reconstruction of a Paleolithic tomb with two skeletons. Don't miss the nifty Neanderthal statute outside the museum.
      Next to prehistory museum is the Abri Pataud, a Paleolithic shelter that contains a collection of prehistoric artifacts. You'll see bones and stone tools still embedded in excavated layers.
Le Village du Bournat (Le Bugue) – This open air museum recreates life in the Perigord in the year 1900. Watch bread made the traditional way, crushing walnuts for oil, weaving baskets, spinning wool, making pottery. Don't miss the wedding in progress or the school room. There are also an old-fashioned fair, amusement rides, for little kids.
kids books prehistoric cave painting
The Secret Cave painting prehistoric france kids books  
The Secret Cave
Emily Arnold McCully

Before you visit Lascaux, read about the exciting discovery of the caves in 1940. Searching for buried treasure, four boys go down into a deep hole in the ground – they discover a cave, covered with prehistoric images, painted thousands of years ago! Marvelous illustrations. (Picture book)

Also, an easy reader: Discovery in the Cave



In southern France, Tao lives with his Stone Age clan that must hunt to survive, but Tao wants to paint images. He roams the plains and valleys, watching the great game herds and observing wildlife close-up, until Tao meets Graybeard, who teaches him the magic of cave painting. (Chapter book)


france adventure prehistoric kids books Boy of the Painted Cave
(More children's books on other France pages)
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