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“Astonishing and beautiful 14000 year old drawings” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Niaux Caves

Niaux Caves
Tarascon-sur-Ariege, France
+33 (0)5 61 05 10 10
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Montreal, Canada
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
16 attraction reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Astonishing and beautiful 14000 year old drawings”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2013

What a wonderful experience. We drove a twisting road up the cliffside to a tiny parking area by an impressive rusted metal welcome centre leading through a massive rock overhang into the cavern. Dark, uneven, often wet footing and a pretty long walk - if you're afraid of being in a dark enclosed space, of falling or have trouble walking think twice - seriously, four people from our group of 24 slipped or fell at one time or another. However, Niaux is worth any discomfort; the images extraordinary. Geometric markings in black and red, then a little farther the animals, each more lifelike and brilliant than the last. In black, moving with the flickering light, bison, oryx, horses. Such sure and lovely lines; warm and lively eyes. Our guide was great, clearly an expert on this site and the culture of these artists that lasted for 25,000 years. This is the real thing, not a reconstruction like Lascaux, and we felt humbled to be in the presence of such art. Note that there is one english tour each day, so book ahead; and wear shoes with good grips.

Visited May 2013
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English first
Appledore, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Amazing!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2013

A visit to the Grotte de Niaux is a must! Astonishing, beautiful cave paintings dating back 13,000-14,000 years. Everything about the caves is so well presented. Our English guide was excellent. Friendly, welcoming and very informative, ready to answer all our questions. The torchlit walk through the various caves was a wonderful experience itself. Just enough modifications to make it safe with handrails in the trickiest parts of the walk but without spoiling the experience of the vastness, the dark and the wonder of the various caverns before you each the 'salon noir' - a huge domed cavern where the astonishing paintings can be seen. You don't need to be a specialist in cave art or pre-history to make the most of this visit. We knew nothing and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I'd recommend it to anyone - as long as you're fairly sure-footed with a good pair of shoes. At the time of our visit, there was one guided English tour a day at 1.30pm. You must book in advance as they cannot take more than 25people at a time. When we phoned, the English tours were fully booked for the next two days.

Visited May 2013
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Weymouth, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Fantastic”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

Just amazing and I would not have wanted to miss it. The walk in and out is about1800mtrs and there are no lights everyone is given a torch. The cave floor has been left as it is and therefore wet in places, slippery and uneven but if you where trainers or walking boots the paintings are definitely worth the wait and the walk

Visited May 2013
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London
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Fantastic experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2013

This was our second trip to the Niaux prehistoric caves, the first being in 2008 when our children were younger. It was just as good second time around!

I feel that the price of the family ticket was good value for the experience. Ticket office staff were helpful and there was, (in April), one tour in English at 1.30pm. Unless you have very good French it's worthwhile ensuring you make the English tour. Although in April it was quiet you should reserve in peak time as numbers on each tour are limited. The visit will probably not be suitable if you have limited mobility or are unsteady on uneven, slightly slippery uphill and downhill surfaces or have very small children, (I would say under 6). Wear sensible walking shoes with good tread as even trainers will be a bit slippery.

You are not permitted to take photos in the caves although there are viewpoints and walkway installed above the entrance where you can use your camera. There are also toilets there.

Every visitor has their own flashlight as there is no lighting installed in the cave for reasons of preservation. This does add to the authenticity of the experience and it's hard to imagine how people could have coped with using naked flames to negotiate their way through the cave and spend time creating large paintings.

The guides are very professional and one has the impression that they are knowledgeable academics rather than employed to merely entertain tourists. They provide clear and easy to understand explanations about the caves and what is known about the paintings and answer visitors questions very well.

The entire visit took around 1 1/2 hours and although the prehistoric cave paintings of horses, bison and ibex are the main attraction the experience of walking so far through a cave so vast is very worthwhile.

http://www.grands-sites-ariege.fr/en/grotte-de-niaux/detail/1/presentation-10

Visited April 2013
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Montcabrier, France
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“A space into which you would not normally go”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2013

There are some 30 prehistoric caves in France open to the public out of about 300. Niaux is one if the few that are accessible. The setting is remarkable, even before you enter the cave. An architect/engineer has designed a permanent outdoor museum space that allows you to have a view of the valley beneath that nature did not provide for. This modernist structure is a wonderful piece of design that complements the experience that follows : going into the cave. You are given lanterns to carry as there are no other sources of light. This is the only cave I know that gives you this opportunity, an chance to pretend to be an explorer from another century! Most caves have electric lighting installed everywhere which interferes with your understanding of what it is really like to go into a cave - a space in which there is total darkness, a space where you do not normally go!

What I remember most from my visit is this experience of modernity and prehistory, the projection into space and the journey to the centre of the earth. The drawings themselves did not stay with me, however remarkable they are, but in my opinion they do not stand up to the special qualities of caves like Font de Gaume and Pech Merle.

Having said this you should not hesitate to go there. It is a privilege to have access to images made some 13,000 years ago. It is magical!

Visited May 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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