Lascaux, the alignments of Carnac or even Niaux… World-famous prehistoric sites, which should not however overshadow more confidential places but sometimes at least as interesting. Spots where, a long time ago, our ancestors left their mark…
1. Bédeilhac cave (Ariège)
Frequented by man for about 15,000 years, this cave with its relatively spectacular entrance was the first in which a Paleolithic parietal painting was discovered (in 1906). However, during the Second World War, it was used as a warehouse. There are also stalagmites, including a particularly popular one, called the stoup.
2. The cave of Mas-d’Azil (Ariège)
We still stay a little in Ariège with this large cave crossed by a road. Many bones of mammoths, bears and woolly rhinos were found there. In prehistoric times, man took up residence there, as evidenced by the objects found, such as a Magdalenian thruster and a pretty engraved button. The skull of a young girl dating back 14,000 years is also among the remarkable finds. The whole history of the place is told in the museum in the village next door.
3. The caves of Cougnac (Lot)
Two caves, one of which is decorated with remarkable engravings, discovered successively in 1949 and 1952. Exploited by Claude Chabrol for Le Coucher and by Georges Lautner for A few too quiet gentlemen, these sites include drawings of megaloceros, ibexes and mammoths. End of the end, we can visit them. And as much to say that it is frankly worth the detour!
4. Terra Amata (Gard)
A site located near Nice, where tools dating back 380,000 years were found. Inevitably, it is one of the oldest in Europe. His study also helped researchers to date the beginning of the domestication of fire.
5. The Save gorges (Haute-Garonne)
The first men to settle here, in the Paleolithic era, left enough traces to allow the site to rank among the richest in Europe. A place made up of several cavities and other caves, in which several objects were discovered, some of which are quite exceptional, such as the Venus of Lespugue, one of the most famous female representations of prehistory.
6. Cussac Cave (Dordogne)
Rich in more than 150 engravings dating from the Paleolithic, this cave was the scene of numerous discoveries of human remains. Experts believe that it was a burial place.
7. The Aldène cave (Hérault)
Decorated with engravings, this cave located south of the Black Mountain was frequented by man from the Lower Palaeolithic. There were several footprints and smears of torches but also evidence that the place was still popular during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
8. Rouffignac cave (Dordogne)
Known for its Lascaux caves, which need no introduction, the Dordogne has other magnificent prehistoric sites. The Rouffignac cave, for example, houses several engravings representing rhinos, mammoths (158 drawings in total), bison and even horses. It is one of the most important sites in all of Europe. It is also classified by Unesco.
9. The Cosquer cave (Bouches-du-Rhône)
Direction Marseille, near Cape Morgiou to enter this cave rich in more than 200 drawings. A sanctuary discovered in 1985 whose works date from the Upper Paleolithic, with traces of hands, made in stencil, of ibexes, bison or even marine animals such as great auks, seals and jellyfish.
10. The Vallonnet cave (Alpes-Maritimes)
Between Menton and Monaco, the Vallonnet cave was discovered in 1958 by an 8-year-old girl. There were found traces of the passage of several animals, such as bears, panthers and saber-toothed tigers, but also of man, with several lithic tools such as hammers and other cutting utensils. Research led to the conclusion that the men who frequented the place had not yet discovered the fire.