Best of France: Cave of Lascaux

Entrance to Lascaux II in France

Please click on photo to see full-sized version.

This photo may not look like much, just Teddy standing in front of an entrance sign. But just behind him is the entrance to Lascaux II, a perfect replica of a cave discovered by four French teenagers (and one dog named Robot, as Teddy will remind you) deep in the French countryside in 1940. The original cave of Lascaux contains paintings that are 17,000 years old; visits to the cave caused such deterioration that it was closed almost 50 years ago. But in Lascaux II the paintings have been faithfully re-created using the same materials and what are believed to be the same techniques.

Intellectually, I was excited to see something that old that had been made by human hands (even if it was just a copy). But I was unprepared for how emotional an experience visiting the cave would be. The paintings are undeniably art, and the cave, its domed ceiling teeming with bulls and horses and cows, feels like a church. It was deeply moving and one of the highlights of our trip. I wasn’t allowed to take photos, but you can get an idea of what I’m talking about at the Cave of Lascaux website.

(And the fact that Lascaux II is amazing is a good thing, because that afternoon I led us farther astray than I ever have on our family travels. But I’m going to save that story until I can tell it in its entirety.)

This post is part of my Postcards from the Road, Summer 2012 series, where I’ll be sharing short pictorial posts of our adventures in Europe from the road. Tomorrow will be all about wine and water in Bordeaux.

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