Site: Rock art
The Grotte de Niaux has some of the finest examples of Palaeolithic art in Europe, and thought to date to the end of the Ice Age. The cave stretches back into the mountain for some two kilometres, but the first painted panels are only 500 metres from the entrance. Not only are there paintings on the cave walls, there are also engravings on the clay floor. Besides the prehistoric images, there is graffiti in the cave dating back to 1602.
The paintings are very detailed – they are not the stereotypical images we think of when thinking about cave men and their animals. The details are very specific and allow researchers to interpret specific aspects of animal behaviour. For example, in one painting of a bison the manner in which its coat is depicted and the stance of the animal enable us to identify it as an adult male that is alert, listening out.
Facilities & Visiting the Grotte de Niaux:
There are usually three guided tours per day throughout the year, with as many as 11 each day during the summer months – July through to September. From April to September there is at least one tour in English each day, usually at 1 pm. Otherwise all guided tours are conducted in French. There is no internal lighting – visitors are given torches, so the tour is not recommended for very young children or people with mobility issues. The cave floor has been left in its natural state, so it can be slippery
Buying tickets for Niaux
Entry to the cave is strictly restricted and limited – there are only 20 places on each guided tour. Consequently, it is advisable to book in advance by telephone (00 33 5 61 05 10 10 or 00 5 61 05 88 37) particularly during the summer months of July to September. At other times it is possible to drive up to the cave and check the notice of availability on the ticket office. It is also possible to make a reservation by email: [email protected]
Nearby, about eight kilometres, is the Pyrénées Park of Prehistoric Art (Parc Pyreneen de l’ Art Prehistorique). Entry to Niaux allows a reduction in the tariff for admission to the Park.
Where is Niaux?
- Check the official website for contact details, up-to-date information on prices and opening hours