Ariège and the giants of prehistory
Among the most impressive of the caves in Ariège is Niaux, the largest decorated cave in Europe along with the cave at Lascaux and famous for features such as the 'Salon Noir', decorated with hundreds of lifelike paintings of bison, deer, horses, etc.
Still in Ariège, you should also see the immense Mas d'Azil Cave, a real natural curiosity which gave its name to the Azilian civilisation and has offered up a huge number of works of art that are today on show at the Musée du Mas d'Azil.
Our distant ancestors also lived in the Bédeilhac Cave containing clay bas-relief sculptures found nowhere else in the world, and La Vache Cave, where a completely intact prehistoric hunters' camp has been found.
Very close to Saint Bertrand de Comminges, a Great Tourist Site in Midi-Pyrénées, are the Gargas Caves which contain some fascinating 'negative handprint' paintings.
Wall art wonders in Lot
Next, we head for the Lot département, another important area of prehistoric interest. Here you will find Pech Merle Cave at Cabrerets in the Célé Valley.
The seven imposing cave sections making up this sanctuary are home to some truly magnificent examples of wall art : engravings, paintings, enigmatic marks, handprints, footprints and more…
Our exploration continues with the Grotte des Merveilles at Rocamadour, not forgetting the fascinating Cougnac Caves at Gourdon, again in Lot.
The caves at Niaux and Le Mas d’Azil are Great Tourist Sites in Midi-Pyrénées as part of the 'Ariège, 14, 000 years of history' collection.
Combined with Saint Cirq-Lapopie, the Pech Merle Cave is also a Great Tourist Site in Midi-Pyrénées.