December 22, 2010 Eymet/Font de Gaume

Today we are in search of our inner caveman. Nearby are caves where prehistoric man sheltered and drew fantastic pictures of bison and deer. We want to see the real thing and not the reproductions at Lascaux. John has read that the cave at Font de Gaume has a tour of the actual cave.

It turns out to be quite a drive. It’s not so far in distance but the roads are narrow and winding so that progress is slow. We arrive shortly before lunch. The overhanging limestone cliffs are quite imposing. there are many caves in them. Some more recent than
others. The tours are very limited and we are told to report in at 2pm.

Limestone cliffs
Sorry this is so hazy. The limestone cliffs are immense and riddled with caves.

In the meantime we have some lunch at a little restaurant called Chateaubriant. They have a plat du jour for only 11 euros. Europe is pretty expensive so this seems like an excellent lunch deal. First, an entree or first course. I chose a cheese tart and John and Sarah choose duck pate. Both are good. For our main courses, John and I both have the lentils with sausage and Sarah has steak frites. Finally for dessert we have apple tart and creme brûlée. Uh oh, it looks like we are heading for another dinnerless night.

Cheese tart
This was really tasty. In my opinion, the best of what we had.

Duck pate  with country bread
The duck pate isn’t foie gras. It tastes a little like liverwurst.

Lentils and sausage
A plate of brown. I thought it was so-so. A little too salty and the sausage a little dry.

Steak frites
We’ve had this cut of beef before. It’s hard to cut but easy to chew. Weird.

Apple tart
Not as good as the tart tatin in Carcassonne.

After we report in at Font de Gaume, we have a short walk up a very steep hill to the entrance to the cave. Unfortunately, the tour is only given in French. The tour guide tries to help out by saying a few English words now and then. We are told not to touch anything and not to take any pictures.

Into the cave we go. It is fantastic to think that we are walking in the same place where early man walked 40,000 years ago. The wall paintings are not as distinct as pictures in books would have you believe but still we see bison, a horse and deer. The artists used the contour in the rock to suggest volume. In some places there is some bas relief as well. Amazingly they use perspective. There are places where some animals are behind others. The tour shows a small sampling of the art. In the cave are hundreds more.

John at Font de Gaume
John at the ticket office of Font de Gaume

Bison at Font de Gaume
Obviously I didn’t take this photo. I got it off But it is a photo of a bison painting from Font de Gaume.

After the tour we visit the Prehistoric Center and see some films. Again in French. Sarah and I can pick out the words for head, bison, and horse but not too much more. Then we head back to Eymet. As I imagined, everyone is too full from lunch to go out to dinner. We have some leftovers from the basket of bread and croissants that the owner left for us and go to bed early.

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