Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Nov 1

We’d detoured inland toward the Vézère Valley in search of prehistoric cave paintings. In fact, “Cro-Magnon” man got his name after being discovered in 1868 in a “cro” (“hole” in a Regional French dialect) on a guy named “Magnon’s” property in this valley. . The first cave we visited was at Rouffignac and consisted of an electric train ride a kilometer underground to which Ann said “nuh-uh.” That turned out to be a smart as she and Mae played in the camper while Wynne and I spent an hour inside a really dark cave listening to a tour in French. In the end, we saw some very impressive original 16,000 year old sketches of mammoths, rhinoceroses, and horses that would have occupied the area in that period. . I point out that these were “original” because another famous cave, Lascaux, has actually been reproduced for tours and the original closed. However, we arrived at Lascaux II just in time to learn that the only English tour of the day had left 30 mins before and were sent down the road to the Lascaux International Centre, call it “Lascaux III,” a super modern building with yet another full-size reproduction. After having to troll for parking in the huge lots, we skeptically booked the next English tour three hours from then. . Working on their own “cave paintings” back in the camper, smearing on the same ocre pigmentation used by the ancient artists, turned out to be the highlight of the day, since the tours which launched at 6 minute intervals all day spent most of their one hour time in the cave replica waiting for the previous group to move on. Ann once again wisely bailed with Mae. Imagining the real ceilings of chambers and passageways teeming with red, yellow and black prehistoric animals, hinting at what the valley must have looked like filled with game for these early hunters, was powerful, but it took some vision with the chatter of tour groups ahead and behind. . A couple educational books from the gift shop and the painted stone tablets, and we left with a solid road/worldschool experience, but I’m not sure I can recommend the visits we did with kids under 6. Still a nice progression back in time from the Neolithic stone alignments we saw in Carnac.

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