A Visit to the Lascaux Cave in France: Paleolithic Wonders

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave in France: Paleolithic Wonders

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.

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave (2)

Important Information

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.

Getting Tickets:

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.

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave (4)

The 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.

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave

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.

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave

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.

The Paris Pass: Should You Get One?

The Paris Pass: Should You Get One?

With a reputation for art, wine, cheese, and all the finer things in life, is anyone really surprised that Paris isn’t the cheapest place to travel? If you’ve been planning a trip to the country of love, fret no more! The Paris Pass, a sightseeing package, aims to save you money on tickets to major attractions and public transport by bundling them onto one card. It can be a real time saver, but is it something you need to have? Let’s get into the details.

Paris Pass Should You Get One

THE BASICS

Here’s what the pass includes:

  • Access to 60+ attractions
  • Fast track access to select locations
  • One day of hop-on hop-off Paris Big Bus access
  • Paris Visite Pass with unlimited metro access

How it works:  

The pass can be purchased online. It is then either shipped to your house or you can pick it up when you arrive in Paris. You can choose between 2, 3, 4, and 6 day passes. The pass becomes active the first time you scan it. The Paris Pass serves as your ticket when you get to selected attractions, locations, etc. You just scan it and head in!

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Included attractions:

The Paris Pass covers just about every major tourist attraction in the city. The Louvre, the Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Museé d’Orsay, Versailles, Montparnasse Tower, the Centre Pompidou, the Opera Garnier, and more are all included. The only major attraction that isn’t covered by the pass is the Eiffel Tower.

Here’s a link to the full lineup.  

Paris Pass Should You Get One (1)

Getting around:

The Paris Pass includes unlimited public transport access for the duration of your pass. That includes unlimited RER trains, metro access, buses, trams, and SNCF Overground Trains. It also includes a Seine boat cruise!

Pricing:

Pricing is determined based on the duration of your stay and the age of the traveller. There are adult, teen, and child passes that all have different pricing.

Here’s the breakdown of cost. All prices are in Euros, and the prices go in order of adult, teen, and child passes.

2 day: €131, €81, and €44

3 day: €160, €96, €49

4 day: €189, €106, €56

6 day: €244, €126, €69

Paris Pass Should You Get One

SHOULD YOU GET ONE?

Some pros:

  • If you’re a heavy sightsee-er, the Paris Pass is a fantastic option. You get entrance to many attractions at reduced rates, and the list of included locations is very comprehensive.
  • It’s far cheaper than buying the tickets individually. On some passes, you get savings of more than a hundred Euros, which in most cases covers the cost of the ticket.
  • With the built-in train pass and the accelerated entrance lines, it’s one of the most convenient ways you can get around. You buy it once, and then you don’t have to think about it again. Straightforward and easy to use.
  • If you’re not sure about the attractions element, you can buy a museum-only pass separately, if you prefer. Note that the Museum Pass doesn’t come with included metro access.

Paris Pass Should You Get One

Some cons:

  • The Paris Pass has a “purse value” maximum that you can’t go over during the course of your ticket. Basically, this means that you can’t exceed the total value of the attractions on your card. For example, the six day pass includes 350 euros worth of attraction entrances, so if you exceed that total value using your card by entering multiple places more than once, your card will expire.
  • Your pass will automatically expire once your time frame runs out. There’s no grace period, and the clock starts when you first swipe it at an event.
  • The unlimited transport system only includes metro zones 1, 2, and 3. Frankly, that shouldn’t be an issue unless you have your heart set on some of the outermost suburbs.
  • Finally, note that the 3-day Paris Pass only includes a 2-day Paris Museum Pass. So if you get the three day pass, plan your museum trips on two consecutive days in a row.

So, should you get it?

The bottom line is that if your trip is heavy on attractions, the Paris Pass makes a lot of sense. It’s convenient and includes metro access, so it saves you time and will probably save you money. That said, it might be worth sitting down with your itinerary and actually doing the math on the cost of your intended attractions and a metro card. You may find it’s actually just as cheap to buy your own tickets directly, depending on what you plan to see.

Titanic Tours 2018: An Underwater Adventure of Life, Loss, & History

Titanic Tours 2018: An Underwater Adventure of Life, Loss, & History

Have you ever wanted to visit the historical decks of the Titanic? Well, now you can embark on a tour of the sunken ship and its wreckage, for a price tag of $105,129 USD.

The tale of the Titanic is one that almost everyone is familiar with. From Southampton, England to New York City, the Titanic departed on April 14th 1912 and collided with an iceberg just four days into her maiden voyage. It took roughly two hours for the Unsinkable Ship to rest at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean with only half its total occupants in the lifeboats.

Roughly 1,500 people lost their lives that day. It’s a grim tale that we can’t seem to leave to rest, or perhaps we are looking to learn from our mistakes. When I read about the tour originally, I was quite thrilled at the idea of getting to see the Titanic first hand (assuming the price tag isn’t an issue).

expedition titanic

 

The underwater tour of the Titanic 2018 is hosted by Blue Marble Private and allows divers to explore the underwater wreckage for approximately three hours. There’s another company, Bluefish, that sports different vehicles, longer dive times, but no dates or prices have been confirmed yet. Both tours will navigate through the bridge, deck, and the cavern where the grand staircase once stood.

 

 

This is the perfect opportunity to experience the tragedy of the Titanic first-hand.

That doesn’t sound right, does it?

The amount of loss that this single underwater site holds, has tainted this experience for some people, and others are quite against disturbing a gravesite.

When I asked a few colleagues how they felt about visiting the site of the sunken Titanic, I got some very strong opinions.

My one colleague was quite excited about the opportunity to visit the wreckage. When I asked him why, he replied, “It’s history. People’s stories ended down there and they deserve to be paid attention to.” – Ryan M.

Another colleague said, “For some people, it’s closure, but I can understand that people are attracted to the haunted aspect of it. As for myself, I wouldn’t go even if it was free. I’d be more interested in seeing the big fish than exploring a rusted wreck” – Maria C.

A third was quite adamant about not disturbing the wreckage because it may be disrespectful, “It is time to let these souls rest and find peace instead of poking about in their business.”

I, on the other hand, would be curious to attend, but not enough to schedule myself in for a 12 hour deep sea dive. I’d rather stick to museums where I can satisfy my love for history and macabre at the same time without getting my socks wet. Knowing what came before is a large part of enjoying museums and tours, and the history ends up being just as important as the experience.

 

Titanic

 

The destruction of the Titanic is close at hand once again, but it’s not due to another iceberg on the horizon. “A 2016 study claimed that a recently discovered “extremophile bacteria” could eat away what’s left of the famous shipwreck inside 15 or 20 years,” reports CNN. This may boost interest in the Titanic wreckage for the next couple of years, and others around the world are trying to keep the Titanic dream alive by building her bigger, better, and with more lifeboats

So my one piece of advice is to get your tickets while you can. Thanks to inflation, you can purchase your ticket for the equivalent price of an original first-class ticket on the RMS Titanic in 1912.

What do you think about the Titanic Tour:  is it grim or respectful? Leave your comments below! 

 

Interesting Facts About the Titanic 

  • The plot of Morgan Robertson’s novel “Futility” bears an uncanny resemblance to the Titanic disaster. The novel tells the story of the Titan, the largest ship ever built, billed as “unsinkable,” which strikes an iceberg in April and sinks. In the book, more than half the passengers die in the North Atlantic because of a lifeboat shortage. The book was published 14 years before the Titanic sank.
  • There’s an app for the Titanic; it’s published by The History Press.
  • The Titanic had four smoke stacks, but one of them was a dummy. It wasn’t hooked up to the furnace. It was merely for air ventilation.
  • The original price of a first class ticket in 1912 was £4,350. Exchanged today it would be valued at $6,143 USD. Due to inflation, that ticket is worth roughly £74,374 or $105,000 USD.

 

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The International Agatha Christie Festival: A Must For Fans of the Legendary Writer

The International Agatha Christie Festival: A Must For Fans of the Legendary Writer

Are you a fan of the “whodunnit” genre — or of Dame Agatha’s books, in particular? It was  at the tender age of 12 that I began reading them; at the time, I think there was an appeal for just about everyone. My voracious reading routine included many of her books, which were hugely popular in the England of the early ’70’s. My French godmother used them as her primary resource for learning English when she took up residence in London as a young woman around 1950.

Read related: 5 Mystery Novels to Get You in the Mood to Travel 

If you’re a devotee of Dame Agatha and her work, you may be interested in attending the annual International Agatha Christie Festival in South Devon, England. Scroll down for more details and dates. Before you do, though, let’s review some of the classic titles– and iconic chraracters– that gained Christie her legions of fans in the first place.

Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple:

Enduring and endearing, these much-loved characters have been portrayed over time in several incarnations for television and film. Most recently, one of the most popular works – Murder On The Orient Express, with a star-studded cast and an enormous budget – is on film once again. Deeply anchored in the life and style of western culture of the early and middle twentieth century, Agatha Christie’s enormous legacy sails into the twenty-first century with nary a ripple.

British authors Sarah Phelps and Sophie Hannah were interviewed recently on the BBC’s Front Row. Sarah Phelps had the following to say when asked about Christie’s enduring popularity:

We enjoy watching people lie! – Sarah Phelps, BBC’s Front Row

Sophie Hannah, acclaimed crime writer in her own right, has given us new Poirot plots to enjoy with all the blessing of the Christie heirs. Heavily plot-focused inside narrow confines with two dimensional characters – or brilliant study in human nature and the nature of evil? For Phelps and Hannah – it’s the latter, all the way. With opinions like – “Best crime writer – ever, one can’t help but be intrigued!

FUN FACT

Agatha Christie was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1971.

FUN FACT

Poirot is the only fictional character to date to be given an obituary in the New York Times!

FUN FACT

British author Sophie Hannah will follow up her two successful Poirot books, with two more books

FUN FACT

Christie never put them both in the same story- quoting the possibility of a strong dislike from Miss Marple!

FUN FACT

Agatha Christie was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1971.

FUN FACT

According to the Guinness Book of World Records – Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, second only to Shakespeare’s works, and the Bible.

Did You Know?

Every year, thousands of people flock to the lovely coastal town of Torquay in South Devon, in the beautiful and sunny area known as the English Riviera – for the International Agatha Christie Festival, as well as for the regular tours of her favourite haunts and settings from her childhood and married life.

Many of these have been featured in her novels, offering a wonderful blend of fiction and reality. Take a tour to find out which ones are drawn directly from Christie’s true-to-life experiences.

Even if you can’t make it for the festival itself, you can take a self-guided or guided tour of the Agatha Christie Mile along the Torquay seafront: there are seven information plaques along the way to illuminate the places that held particular importance in the author’s life.

Festival Details:

Visit the Official Agatha Christie Festival website to learn more about being involved, current projects, and up-to-date festival information The next annual festival event will be a one-day celebration of Agatha Christie’s birthday in Torquay on Saturday, 15th September 2018. The next 5Day Festival will take place 11th -15th September 2019.   This may seem far away now, but I’m going to guess that attendance will be very high! Be sure to let us know if it’s on your radar!

For more information on the Agatha Christie Literary Trail

To receive a FREE print destination guide for the English Riviera