Site: Rock Art
Rouffignac is one of the largest caves in the area, certainly the largest open to the public. There are over 8 kilometres of underground caverns and tunnels. Visitors are taken to the prehistoric art on an electric train, a journey deep into the cave that lasts about an hour. Besides the prehistoric art, there are also remnants of ancient bear pits.
People have known about this cave for a long time – as is clear from the age of the graffiti in the cave. Because the art is located so deep in the cave, it was not until 1956 that the prehistoric imagery was discovered. It is at this cave that prehistoric artists went the farthest underground to make their art. The electric train, not the same one of course, has been taking researchers and visitors to the paintings since 1959.
The most striking aspect of the art in this cave is the sheer number of mammoths. In Europe, there are about 350 caves with prehistoric art in them – about a third of all depictions of mammoths are in the cave of Rouffignac. Besides the magnificent paintings there are also remains of bear pits, where these animals would have hibernated during their winters.
Facilities & Visiting Rouffignac:
The guide only speaks French. However, using an iPod touch (there is a charge – currently €1.50), an audio guide is available in English, Chinese, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japonese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
Buying tickets for Rouffignac
As with all the decorated caves in the Dordogne, access to the cave is limited. It is not possible to book in advance, visitors are sold tickets on a first come first served basis. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance to the cave. The cave is open from April through to the end of October.
For July and August only – tickets are on sale from 9.00 am for that day. When they are sold out – that is it! You are advised to arrive before 10.30 am to be certain of a ticket for that day. Once you have a timed ticket you are not then required to wait at the cave – but you should be at the entrance ten minutes before your allotted time.
During the months the cave is open either side of July and August (ie April, May, June, September and October), tickets for the morning are on sale at the ticket office from 10 am for morning tours, and from 2 pm for afternoon tours.
Where is Rouffignac?
- Check the official website for contact details, up-to-date information on prices and opening hours
- Vézère Valley and Rouffignac on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites
- Archaeology Travel article: Tips for Visiting the Dordogne’s Ice Age Caves with Children
Photographs of Rouffignac