You are planning to visit the Lascaux Cave, ” Chapelle Sistine du Périgord ” located in the Vézère Valley in the town of Montignac. Now is the time to book and especially to decide between the two reconstructions proposed to the public. But which replica to choose? Lascaux 2 or Lascaux 4? A spectacular and immersive experience versus a sensory and intimate experience? To help you in this dilemma and appreciate this rock/art masterpiece to its fullest, here is everything you need to know before making your decision.
A mythical cave, 4 versions:
Lascaux cave is one of the most important decorated caves of the Upper Palaeolithic by the number and aesthetic quality of its works. It is listed, along with 14 other prehistoric caves and caverns, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jewel of Parietal Art, it contains nearly 1900 representations painted or engraved with flint or bones by our Cro-Magnon ancestor, about 18,000 years ago. Among these are many animals such as horses, aurochs, bison, deer and goats, the dangerous bears, rhinoceros and big cats or the legendary unicorn.
Lascaux: The original cave discovered in 1940 by four teenagers on the lands of Montignac, visited by millions of visitors, and closed to the public in 1963 by Malraux as a measure to safeguard the paintings threatened by carbon dioxide.
Lascaux 2 : The first replica of Lascaux inaugurated in 1983.
Lascaux 3 : The travelling and international exhibition.
Lascaux 4 also known as the International Centre for Parietal Art: the complete reproduction opened to the public in 2016.
Lascaux 4, a 100% reconstitution combined with technological prowess
The only complete replica, it faithfully depicts the original Lascaux cave: the painted and engraved murals, the cool and dark atmosphere, the humidity level and the particular acoustics of the cave.
Drawings and engravings are reproduced to the millimetre according to the techniques and art of the Cro-Magnon men.
More than a reproduction, it is a playful and interactive experience. The discovery of the cave is accompanied by a digital journey. A visit of between 2 and 3 hours to learn all about the most famous cave in the world, to understand everything about its place in prehistoric art or its influence on contemporary creation.
The latest museography and scenography technologies are used. Augmented reality, 3D, interactive stations, an immersive picture wall offer an immersive and personalized experience.
The practical side:
It can be visited all year round (except for a few days in January).
All areas are accessible to people with limited mobility.
And the tour is suitable for all disabilities.
Guided tours in alternation “baby switch” are proposed to the new parents to take turns in the cave where silence is requested.
Small pets, carried in a carrier, are allowed during the visit.
Special tours are offered to visit the cave at your own pace ” Visite Contemplation ” (not all year round) or with children ” Visite Famille “.
The weak points of Lascaux 4:
The length of the visit to the cave is around 40 minutes and in the form of a guided tour. This may seem too short and constraining for some visitors who wish to linger freely in front of the masterpieces.
Saturation in high season. The most visited tourist site in the Dordogne department, it is also the most visited decorated cave in the world. It is therefore very popular in high season with the inconveniences that this implies: crowds, noise, waiting, less pleasant atmosphere.
The ubiquity of digital. The guided tour of the facsimile is followed by an open tour of the museum space. With the help of a tablet and through immersive and interactive installations, the experience may seem too focused on new technologies, very individual, not adapted to the prehistoric subject or not very user-friendly for some.
Good to know:
Online booking up to 1 hour in advance
Take a jumper, the temperature of the cave is around 13°C.
Pushchairs are forbidden in the cave but allowed in the open-air tour / baby carriers permitted.
Our last minute tip: Remember to book in high season. And if you couldn’t or have forgotten, there are often foreign language slots available. You won’t understand the guided tour, but you will have access to the magnificent rock paintings.
Lascaux 4 – Centre International de l’Art Pariétal, for who?
People wishing to discover the cave at 100%, without missing a shred of the original.
People at ease with new technologies, sensitive to new digital tools.
Holiday makers who have time. The visit lasts between 2 and 3 hours.
More comfortable budgets.
People willing to share this treasure with the crowds in high season.
People in wheelchairs or with a disability requiring an adapted route.
Small dog owners wishing to take them with them wherever they go.
Lascaux 2, getting closer to the soul and power of the original cave
Historical copy of the Lascaux cave. Inaugurated in 1983, it is the result of the crazy project initiated in 1970 to rebuild the closed cave identically.
An experience close to the original. Like the four teenagers in 1940, visitors enter the cave by torchlight. The walls, the prehistoric paintings, the pigments and the lines are revealed by the flickering light, impregnating the place with the special, authentic and moving aura often sought after.
A serene rhythm. The 1 hour visit is reserved for your group. It offers the comfort and leisure to linger more easily in front of the works. You can also take the time to exchange ideas and get all the explanations you want about cave art, prehistoric life and the techniques used.
The intimate atmosphere. Lascaux II supplanted by the latest Lascaux IV attracts fewer people than in the past. In addition, the visit is made in small groups, restoring or almost restoring the calm and timeless atmosphere of the original.
Privileged access. This reconstitution is located on the sanctuarised hill that has become almost “sacred” of Lascaux, 200 metres away from it. The visit allows you to see the entrance to the original cave immersed in a natural, wooded and protected setting conducive to time travel.
The two most spectacular galleries: the Bull Room and the Axial Diverticulum are reproduced. The reproductions were made by the painter Monique Peytral and a group of artists over a period of eleven years with the utmost meticulousness and according to the methods used by our hunter-gatherer ancestors in Prehistory.
Les Points faibles de Lascaux II:
The copy is not complete. 90% of the parietal paintings of Lascaux are reproduced.
It is not accessible all year round. Only from April to November.
Not accessible to wheelchairs.
Access is on foot, more difficult for some people.
Almost 40 years since this replica first saw the light of day. The magic is still working, but it’s getting worse. It was doomed to close but in the face of success, its access is still possible.
Good to know:
Reservation recommended. The capacity is smaller than Lascaux 4 and its charm attracts crowds.
Take warm clothing. It is cold there
Park at the foot of the hill (Lascaux IV car park) and walk a few minutes.
There is less equipment/facilities than in the new replica (children’s area,…).
Not accessible to pushchairs.
No pets allowed.
Lascaux II, for who?
People looking for a simple and authentic experience.
those resistant to new technologies.
People sensitive to the charm of nature without human presence and to the emotional dimension of the experience.
People who wish to escape the crowds, the hustle and bustle of summer tourism and visitors with limited budgets. The rate is less expensive than Lascaux IV.
Tourists with little time (very short stays in the Périgord Noir) or families with small children. A good hour at Lascaux II compared to 2 to 3 hours at Lascaux IV.
Hesitant people who have the opportunity to come back to the region. Lascaux II is doomed to disappear. Lascaux IV will go on for several more decades.