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“How to Feel Good about Homo Sapiens”

Museum of Prehistory Tautavel
Ranked #2 of 6 things to do in Tautavel
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Museum of Tautavel European Center of Prehistory is a complex built around the "Homme de Tautavel". It presents the history of humanity in Europe since the first Europeans to the gates of history by taking examples from the nearby area of Tautavel. The Museum of Tautavel is as renowned for the richness of his collections as for his cultural and recreational activities that allow visitors throughout the year to capture the lives of their ancestors.
Useful Information: Activities for young children
Reviewed July 17, 2014

In Tautavel there are two museums of prehistory, one with findings from throughout Europe and very clever animations in French. The other is dedicated to a group of Homo Erectus who lived in a cave near Tautavel. While this second is a bit dusty and not up on contemporary anthropological findings, it sure makes you feel good about homo sapiens. Tautavel Men and Women went extinct for good reason. Apparently they lived for 600,000+ years, off and on, in the same cave without making the slightest, the most infinitesimal technological advance or self-awareness. Other hominids had discovered fire. Not Tautavel. They went on hacking up raw meat and each other (hopefully after a natural death) for their entire time on earth in exactly the same way, leaving nothing but bones behind. It's pretty interesting, in a bizarre way, with audio guides in various languages, and films of Homo Sapiens being Homo Erectus and it provided fun discussion topics over wine. You can get various Stone Age toys at the gift shop.

3  Thank IrmaV
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 14, 2013

We were totally disappointed by the Tautavel museum. It was set up in 1979, and it looks like all that has happened since is some cleaning. The exhibits look very old-fashioned and are tired. Photos have faded to green, or are peeling off their mounts, the handheld audio system is poor and only available for some of the exhibits, and there is far too much complex detail. The audio visual displays are ancient, and so far below modern standards that we had to laugh at them. There is one small newer section that shows how it could have been done, and which was far more interesting than all the rest combined.

As an example of how run-down the place is, the taps in the bathrooms have had all the chrome scrubbed off them and are now tarnished brass. How many years does that take?

We certainly won't be back until there has been an upgrade. It's a pity as there is a really good story to tell here, and the content of the museum is excellent, just really poorly presented.

2  Thank John W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
David A, Responsable commercial at Museum of Prehistory Tautavel, responded to this reviewResponded December 15, 2013

Thank you for your opinion.
The Museum of prehistory was conceived and accomplished in 1992, lightly renovated in 2002, and had to hire over next years a deep construction site of renovation muséographique, aiming at making easier the access to knowledge for the public. Renovation had to start from this year, but the different financial partners postponed plan. From 2014 a working edge is going to concern bets in technical norms.

During scholastic we offer, specifically for the attention of the children and without supplement of workshops on prehistoric techniques, as well as didactic conferences.

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Reviewed June 24, 2013

The museum would be of great interest to history students or anyone wishing to know a little more about early man and the animals of this period.
It is very interesting to hear the story of the discovery of the skull of Tautavel man in the nearby cave and the film and dioramas provide a visual context to how life would have been before the invention of fire. ( what, raw meat for dinner again!)
Whilst some of the exhibits are looking their age there is still a lot to see.
There is good access to the museum and the walking guide headphones have translations in many languages. I note one reviewer mentions there are only stairs but there is an elevator also.

1  Thank jcu13909
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 29, 2012

There not much to the village of Tautavel, only one street really, but the very pretty village in a stunning region boasts this wonderful museum which is one of its kind in the whole region. Tautavel is a prehistoric landscape which was home to dinosaurs and early man. The museum is a tad pricey and the lady at the entrance was not going to honour a family pass we had bought at a local hotel issued by the Tautavel tourist agency, but once inside we enjoyed our visit. You can set aside a good two hours to really see everything, displays are mostly under glass, and there are inter-active demonstrations for the kids to get involved in such as lighting a fire without a match. Tautavel Man is displayed - or more to the point his skull is - fascinating as he is over 400,000 years old and dwelled in the surrounding region in a local cave. You can also buy a ticket that takes in the cave where they discovered his remains which is down the road at the Gorges de Gouleyrous (ten minutes drive - 30-45 minute walk). You need to be able to walk pretty well if you want to visit the cave as it is up the side of a mountain with scaffolding and steps. If you cannot then the museum has a life-like exhibit of the cave with T-Man inside it. There is a great gift shop which you can visit before or after your tour - a little pricey though. Staff are very welcoming especially with the kids. We went around it with a stroller and there are stairs but I do not recall seeing ramps for wheelchair users.

The cave at the Gouleyrous Gorges overlooks the spectacular fresh water swimming spot - brilliant spot for a bbq or picnic. A rough car park serves the cave, gorges and camping ground. Note: it gets very hot here in the summer as well as extremely crowded on weekends. But it's well worth it. You need a car or bike to get here conveniently. The museum operates on reduced hours during the winter.

5  Thank 27twinkle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Thank patrick A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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