This was an experience that certainly lived up to the billing, both in respect to the physical challenge (no poured concrete walkways and handrails here!) and the astounding art. We made the trip to the region primarily for the Cathar castles, but when our research turned up Niaux we discovered the world of prehistoric cave art, mainly through the book The Cave and the Cathedral (Amir Aczel). I recommend it as preparation for seeing Niaux or other similar caves. Among other things, it gives a good sense for the skill and subtlety contained in the drawings which make use of perspective, shading and the irregular surface to enhance three dimensional elements. It’s all fairly amazing considering these were executed 14,000 years ago with rudimentary tools by whatever artificial lighting they might have had.
This was the only activity for which we made advanced reservations before we left home, and I’m glad we did as our scheduled tour had a full complement of twenty in the party. From the time the guide unlocks the door allowing entrance into the cave passageway, until you reach the Salon Noir where the main cluster of animal paintings resides, it has a very authentic feel. The entire trip in and back is lit only by the flashlights handed out at the outset of the tour. It is easy to imagine what the trip would have been like for the original artists or later explorers.
Heed the cautions and dress warmly (it’s a constant 50 F inside) and wear hiking/athletic shoes good for rough and slippery terrain. The whole tour (we took the English version offered at 1 pm) took a little over two hours, making it well worth making and easily worth the 10 euro ticket. Some caves with prehistoric art have been closed to the public to avoid damage to the drawings. We felt very fortunate to catch this while it is still available for public viewing.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.