Vive La France

Follow us as we travel around the Dordogne, Lot & Languedoc regions of France

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21 - Lascaux, Montignac, St. Leon sur Vezere, La Roque St Christophe, La Madeleine

Lots of visits today in the Vezere valley. This area is well known for its abundance of caves with paintings and Cro-Magnon and Troglodyte man.
We started with our visit to Lascaux. The original cave had to be closed because the millions of visitors each year were causing humidity to rise as well as various destructive growths that were damaging the paintings. So, just like at Egypt's Abu Simbel, where they relocated the entire monument to avoid the flooding river, here they built an exact replica of the original caves and their paintings using the latest technology so that it was exact to within five millimeters of the original site's construction though a few hundred meters away in another cave.
Pech Merle was very good and very large with multiple rooms to go through. Lascaux is very short, two large rooms of about 80 meters in length. But the quality of the paintings was magnitudes better. It is amazing to see the artistry of people that lived 17,000 years ago, their use of color and their precision considering all they could do was spit colors on the wall or daub color on with fur, while using their hands to act as a template and form the shape.
We then stopped in the small village of Montignac, near where Lascaux is. Another medieval village with the Vezere River running through it and interesting streets, houses and river area.
Then on to St. Leon sur Vezere, a very small village on the Vezere, small historic center, and stopped for Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe (lunch on the grass). We ate at picnic tables along the river and two cats, a Siamese and a fluffy black one, joined us to eat what we didn't.
Then off to La Roque St. Christophe. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area, over a kilometer in length on 5 levels of cuts in the cliffside, was first inhabited at least 25,000 years ago by people who lived under the overhanging cliffs that were eaten into the soft mountainside. They built houses there much like the Anasazi cliff dwellers in Arizona. The site is a few hundred feet above the river and the views panoramic.
Our final stop was at La Madeleine (no, not the restaurant), a site inhabited by troglodytes (prehistoric men who lived in caves) over 17,000 years ago and then continually through the middle ages by following civilizations. It was only discovered in 1863. This too was an area built into caves, or rather openings in the rock face of the cliff to which were added stones and rocks to form walls, rooms and protection.
So, if you're tired of the history lesson, imagine us, clambering up and down stone steps, wooded paths, etc. Good thing we didn't live back then without elevators and air conditioning. Plus we got back at 5pm, rush hour! But, getting around has gotten easy and familiar. Now we'll rest, wash up, and go out for dinner.
We just got back from a fantastic evening. See next post.

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