Grotte de Rouffignac visitor guide

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This is a magical cave where prehistoric man has set too and engraved and painted more than a hundred mammoths on the walls and ceilings.

Explore the Grotte de Rouffignac

The Rouffignac cave system is immense, one of the largest in the area, and is explored on board a small electrical train. The train carries you deep into the cave system and at various points it stops to let you get off and admire up close the artwork surrounding you.

Rouffignac Cave

The prehistoric art on display is mainly engravings and black-line drawings. It is not colour paintings as at Lascaux and Font-de-Gaume. However what is amazing here is the sheer number of images.

In total there are 158 mammoths, 28 bison, 15 horses, 12 capricorns, 10 woolly rhinocerous and one bear. There are also 4 human figures. This is a very unusual mix as other caves of the same era tend to feature bison, horses and deer. Woolly rhinoceros are rare and human figures are very rare.

Representations of mammoths are also relatively rare and a third of all those found in Western Europe are in the Rouffignac cave! This is even more suprising when you consider that very few bones of woolly mammoth are found as far south as this area.

At the heart of the visit is the 'Grand Plafond' or 'Great Ceiling', an immense cavern whose ceiling is covered with 65 of the engravings and line drawings in the cave. A truly incredible sight.

The complexity of some of the engravings is also incredible when you think that these were created by prehistoric man of the Upper Paleolithic period - 10 to 50,000 years ago. The Patriarche is one of the best. This is an engraving of an old mammoth with massive tusks.


Grotte de Rouffignac Information

As with many prehistoric sites in France the act of visiting the caves is slowly deteriorating the art-work we come to see. The inflow of light, heat  and humidity with each visit leads to a build up of mould which eventually covers the art work. To reduce this the number of visitors each day is reduced.

In low-season this is not a problem but in July and August you may need to buy tickets when they come on sale at 9am but your visit might not be until late afternoon. You do not have to wait on site and there is lots to do to occupy you in the area but annoying non the less! Unfortunately they do not have an online booking system.

Tickets cost 7 euros for adults and 4€60 for 6-12 year olds.

The cave is open from the 13th April to the 1st November (closed for lunch).

Where is the Grotte de Rouffignac?

The cave is in the commune of Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin not far from Les Eyzies de Tayac. Les Eyzies makes an excellent base for exploring the prehistoric sights of the area.

Places to Visit Nearby

If this has whet your appetite for prehistoric cave art you should definitely visit the Lascaux caves and the Font de Gaume caves.

You can find more travel ideas in the Dordogne guide and the Aquitaine guide.

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The French version of this page is at Grotte de Rouffignac (Francais)