If ancient history and stunning prehistoric artwork interest you, the Lascaux Cave is something you must see during your lifetime. Part of a complex of caves located near the village of Montignac in the Dordogne region of southwestern France, the cave is famous for its elaborate, Upper Paleolithic paintings. The cave is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination that puts you up close and personal with an exact replica of the original cave.
There’s a lot going on at this mesmerizing location, so let’s break it down.
We’ll start with some of the history, before giving you some need-to-know information, and finally some more details about what you can expect from this experience.
Some Brief History
The Lascaux Cave was first discovered by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat in 1940, and it was eventually opened to the public in 1948. However, it was closed in 1963 after the influx of visitors began to damage the delicate surface of the paleolithic paintings it housed. An exact replica of the cave called Lascaux II was opened in 1983. The successor to that replica is Lascaux IV, which is the updated replica cave that you can visit today. With its attached museum and down to the millimetre-level accuracy, Lascaux IV is nearly identical to the real thing.
When you visit Lascaux Cave, you can expect a roughly two-and-a-half-hour long experience from start to finish. That includes the tour of the replica cave, the self-guided tour, galleries, and art exhibits that add to the experience. The tour through the cave itself takes about an hour, and the rest of the experience is self-guided with the aid of a digital tablet.
You can buy tickets online in advance of your visit here. Tickets are available up to 90 days in advance, right up until the day before your intended visit. Please note that you cannot purchase online tickets the day of your visit, but if you can get them day-of at the ticket centre in person. Tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable, so be sure you’re confident when you book.
Tickets are currently 17 EUR each for adults, and 11 EUR for children, and you have the option to choose between English, Dutch, and French tours (Please note that while these prices were accurate at the time of publication, they may change at anytime).
Lascaux IV is open every day from 9am-7pm.
What You’ll See
The Lascaux experience is broken up into four main spaces: the Belvédère, the Shelter, the Cave itself, and the Studio.
Belvédère and Shelter
The visit starts when you receive a tablet and take an elevator up to the top of the roof of the museum. From there, you can look out over the Vézère Valley and use the augmented reality interactive map on your tablet to see information about the view in real time. It’s a great way to learn about the many surrounding archaeological sites.
At the shelter (also on the roof), you can stand in front of a screen and watch the evolution of the Lascaux area shift and change. It feels like you’re looking into the past through a window. It’s incredible to see how different the landscape looked back in the time of the cave painters. It sets up the “time travel” feeling you get when you move onto your next destination: the Lascaux Cave.
You’ll have an appointed entry time to visit the cave with a group of other visitors and a trained guide. Walking into the replica, it feels exactly like you’re going into a real cave. Cool and damp, the re-creation is incredible, and it’s very easy to suspend your disbelief. Of course, it helps that the recreation is built into the same hill as the original, and that you really do go underground for your visit. It’s as real as it can get these many years later!
The main attraction are the paintings. The first one you see is a curiously named painting called “The Unicorn,” even though the animal has two horns. Then you’ll proceed into the famous “Hall of the Bulls” where enormous paintings of bulls seem to leap and run right off the walls. From there, you go deeper, into a series of smaller caves with multicolor paintings of horses, cows, bulls, and symbols in shades of black, brown, red, and yellow. The presence of all these colours is part of why Lascaux is so justifiably famous. Polychromatic caves are very rare, and when you walk through the tour, you’ll feel awed and inspired by the achievements of the people who made the paintings at a time where there was no written language.
The Lascaux Studio
After you leave the hallowed halls of the cave, you can wander at leisure through the Lascaux Studio space, where eight cave walls have been reproduced for you to explore. These include the cave’s most famous works: “Two Crossed Bison”, “The Great Black Cow”, “The Panel of the Imprint”, “The Apse”, “The Shaft Scene”, “The Axial Gallery”, “The Upside-Down Horse” and “The Hall of the Bulls”.
These reproductions include enhanced reality information available on your tablet, giving you more information on the techniques and history of the specific scenes.
Other exhibits of note are the virtual reality version of the cave, which you can view at your own pace on the tablet, the art exhibit where you can create your own virtual cave paintings, a historical exhibit on the history of the cave and why it was closed to the public, and an area with real objects that were found during the archaeological dig.
The Big Picture
Aside from the cave being just plain cool, visiting the Lascaux Cave puts you at the heart of two exciting developments in the history of art. First and foremost, the cave gives you access to some of the world’s earliest and most incredible cave paintings. The discovery of the Lascaux Cave brought Stone Age culture to the modern world, giving us rare access to a time that has few surviving records.
With its high-tech re-creation and careful archaeological preservation, you can experience this wonder without worrying about damaging the original. Lascaux’s reproduction took years to make, and it represents an exciting development in the world of historical preservation.
If you’re a fan of delicious and flavorful food, Morocco is one of the best places in the world to visit. Boasting a cultural character whose diverse roots resemble an elaborate quilt more than a mashup, Morocco’s medley of Arabic, Berber, sub-Saharan, Spanish, and French cuisine is unparalleled. And if that sounds like an overstatement, a visit to Morocco (or at least a restaurant serving the country’s wonderful fare) should be on your short list of adventures to take. Here are some of the best Moroccan dishes you can try the next time you get a chance– whether at home or in cities such as Marrakesh and Fez.
Moroccan cuisine is, as mentioned, incredibly diverse. Yet a few favorite staple dishes feature on most traditional menus.
Tiny steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina, couscous is traditionally served for lunch on Fridays after Friday prayers. Trust us though, it is delicious all week long. Served in a round platter and topped by heaps of vegetables such as eggplant, squash, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, and chickpeas, you can eat it vegetarian or serve it with meat, traditionally beef or chicken.
Where to eat it: Restaurant National, Oujda
Located in Morocco’s largest city, Restaurant National is one of the most popular restaurants on the Algerian border. They make incredible couscous every Friday, and their rotisserie chicken is delicious.
Tagine (also spelled tajine) is a savory stew made from sliced meat and vegetables that are slow-cooked with spices and nuts. It gets its name from the distinctive peaked top earthenware pot in which it’s cooked, and it combines the savory warmth of soups without ever getting too heavy. They’re commonly prepared with ginger, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, and cumin, and served with chicken, fish, or lamb. They are usually served with bread. There are a huge variety of tagines you can try, and each region has its own specialty.
Where to eat it: L’ibzar, Marrakech
This modern, stylish restaurant serves distinctly home-cooked Moroccan food, including some incredible tagines. The owner and operator is usually onsite, and there are great options for vegetarians and vegans here as well!
Local to Marrakech, tanjia is a specialized tagine that is traditionally prepared by men by slow-cooking an entire lamb over coals that heat local hammams. Fresh meat (usually lamb), herbs, preserved lemons, and spices are placed in a tanjia pot, which is then covered with butcher’s paper. It roasts for at least five hours and is then served in a tagine pot with the juices.
Where to eat it: Latitude31, Marrakech
With its leafy courtyard and traditional cooking techniques, Latitude31 is the perfect place to get some tanjia.
Originally from the Spanish region of Andalusia, this flaky stuffed meat pie is commonly made of pigeon or chicken meat. Though originally from Spain, today it is a favourite in Moroccan cuisine and generally served as a starter at the beginning of special meals. You can usually find it at food stalls in medinas. The Fes region is famous for their pastilla, which are flavored with almonds and savory spices. Don’t forget to wash it down with some mint tea!
Where to eat it: Darori Resto, Fes
This elegant medina restaurant has classic Moroccan cuisine and flawless presentation, and their pastilla are amazing!
Another of Morocco’s excellent slow-cooked dishes is mechoui, a whole lamb cooked overnight in an underground oven. The end result is meat that is so tender it literally falls off the bones, you don’t even need a knife to eat it! Because of the labour-intensive nature of the meal, it’s a favourite at special occasions, like weddings.
Where to get it: The appropriately named “Mechoui Alley,” Marrakech (Jemaa el Fna near the olive souk)
Or, if you prefer a setting that isn’t an alley, the other end of the spectrum is La Grande Table Marocaine, a restaurant so nice that the Moroccan king owns it.
In addition to the major staple items listed above, these smaller dishes add to the distinctive flavors and surprises of Morocco’s gastronomy.
Whether you’re eating them grilled at a restaurant, in the open souks with tomato and onions, or served in a tagine with bread, sardines pop up all over the place in Moroccan cooking. The Safi region is justifiably famous for their fresh sardines, though you’d do well to be a little wary of street sardines. Don’t forget to try charmoula, a Moroccan traditional marinade that pairs really well with fresh sardines.
Where to get it: Essaouira harbor
There’s nothing better than fresh fish, and vendors at Essaouira’s seaside will barbeque the fish right in front of you.
Makouda are beautiful, golden, deep-fried potato cakes. They’re delicious served on their own, with salad, or in a sandwich. They’re available in many medinas as a snack, but they’re especially prevalent in the north of Morocco: Meknes, Fes, Essaouira, and Moulay Idiss are all hotspots for makouda.
Where to eat it: Café Clock, located in Fes, serves up makouda with harissa yogurt and fresh salad! Because makouda are so carbohydrate heavy, this is a great way to have them.
Morocco’s baked goods use some of the most beautiful ingredients in the world: orange blossom water, rose water, almond paste, and delicious dates, among others. Pair these delicacies with a steaming cup of delicate Moroccan tea served in a small glass, and you have a place that really knows how to do teatime.
Chebakya, a fried pastry covered in honey, sesame seeds, and rose water, is perfect with a bowl of harira soup. Or try almondy ghoriba biscuits with a cup of hot tea for a sweet afternoon pick me up.
Where to eat it: Patisserie des Princes in Marrakech is one of the finest bakeries in Morocco! Don’t miss their mint tea and delicious treats.
Dried fruits and nuts
If all this eating has exhausted you, you may need to opt for a snack instead. You can’t beat dried fruits and nuts when it comes to a quick energy boost, and the fresh nuts grown in the Atlas Mountains, such as almonds and walnuts, are locally roasted right in Morocco. And don’t forget dates and figs from the south!
Where to eat it: Souk Al-Attarine in Fez is home to some of the world’s best spices, dried fruits, and nuts. This market is definitely one to visit!