Posts Tagged ‘Pech Merle’
Even if your primary reason for coming here is to canoe or kayak the magnificent Dordogne River, there are a few places that should not be overlooked when visiting the Dordogne River Valley:
Pech Merle, Grotte du Gaume, and Lascaux: The Pre-History of Man
Check out magnificent cave art of early man at Pech Merle, Grotte du Gaume, and Lascaux. (Also, a visit to the National Prehistoric Museum in Les Eyzies is a must)
Rocamadour is a nearly vertical village which has been visited by pilgrims since the 9th century. In 1166 when the perfectly preserved remains of St. Amadour were discovered under the floor in front of its little Chapelle Notre-Dame, Rocamadour became one of the most important centers for religious pilgrimage in all of Europe. It is said, ‘St. Amadour’ was actually Zacchaeus – a tax collector in Jericho at the time of Christ – who was advised by the Virgin Mary to come to this location in France to live out his remaining years as a hermit. Toward the end of the 12 century, Henri Courtmantel, aka: “Young King Henry”, son of King Henry II of England & Eleanor of Aquitaine (and the old brother of Richard the Lionheart), plundered Rocamadour and stole its most prized relics including; a small statue known as the ‘Black Virgin’ and Rowland’s famous sword, Durandal. Ultimately, under pressure from King Henry II, he returned these relics to Rocamadour and they can be seen there today.
Gouffre de Padirac:
Imagine a voyage down a river deep underground it is probably one of the most unique boating experiences you will ever encounter. The Gouffre de Padirac provides a spectacular entrance to a network of rivers about 300 feet underground and the opportunity to take a little cruise of about 1.5 nautical miles through a beautiful grotto and cave network. The view up from the base of the Gouffre’s main chasm gives you the sense that you are beginning a journey to the center of the earth. Then, you continue to descend another 100 feet underground to the boats below!
Link: Gouffre de Padirac
Explore the most beautiful villages in France:
THE French government has generated a list of 148 villages within the 65 French Departments (Counties) they protect & consider these villages’ true national treasures. All of these villages date back to the Middle Ages. Within a 20 to 30 minute drive radius of Carennac, there are seven! These include: Carennac, Loubressac, Autoire, Curemonte, Rocamadour, Turenne and Collonges-la-Rouge.
In total, eighteen of these plus beaux villages (including; Collonges-la-Rouge, Turenne, Curemonte & Domme not on detailed on the map above) are within an hour drive or less of Carennac. That’s better than 10% of the entire List …Right here in the Haut Quercy, how cool is that???
Link: Les Plus Beaux Villages
à bientôt! Jack
MANKIND has wandered about the Dordogne River valley for over 450,000 years and evidence of early man is everywhere in this region. The first signs of human habitation that date back to that point in time were in the form of flint tools unearthed in the nearby Vézère valley.
Neanderthal man came into this region about 125,000 years ago and, for a period of time, coexisted with their cousins the Cro-Magnons. The Cro-Magnon man discovered here dates back 40,000 years and by around 25,000 years ago supremely realistic animals were being depicted in local caves by them.
I’ve been told that nearly 70% of the world’s prehistoric cave art is to be found in southwestern France and viewing the 25,000 year old paintings at both Pech-Merle & Font-de-Gaume will certainly give you the opportunity of seeing some of the finest examples. Martine and I visit these caves frequently and we are always in awe of these primitive paintings & rock carvings.
Ever hear of the Troglodytes? Nope, not a rock group… rock dwellers! Of pre-historical interest locally are the troglodyte dwellings in Village de la Madelenie. The cliff side shelters at La Madeleine gave its name to the Magdalenian society of hunter gatherers that lived in the area from around 18,000 -10,000BC. These dwellings were continuously lived in from that time and right through the Roman Empire, Middle Ages, and into the 19th century.
We also have the largest collection of Dolmens or portal tombs to be found in France. These are simple megalith structures built by early hunter/ gatherers from stone and there construction dates back over 5,000 years. Today, much mystery still surrounds what rituals they were actually used for and who constructed them.
Plan to visit in 2012? Please check out the delightful accommodations at Le Sud!
Bon Voyage et à bientôt! Jack
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(Our next blog post: dimanche 04 mars 2012)