A replica of the Grotte de Chauvet (Chauvet Cave) in the Ardèche opened to the public from 25 April 2015.
The Grotte de Chauvet cave contains some of the earliest known and best preserved figurative cave paintings in the world, as well as other evidence of Upper Paleolithic life .
It has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site
“The decorated cave of Pont d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc is located in a limestone plateau of the meandering Ardèche River in southern France, and extends to an area of approximately 8,500 square meters. It contains the earliest known pictorial drawings, carbon-dated to as early as the Aurignacian period (30,000 to 32,000 BC). The cave was closed off by a rock fall approximately 20,000 years BC and remained sealed until its rediscovery in 1994. It contains more than 1,000 drawings, predominantly of animals, including several dangerous species, as well as a large number of archaeological and Palaeolithic vestiges.
The cave contains the best-preserved expressions of artistic creation of the Aurignacian people, constituting an exceptional testimony of prehistoric cave art. In addition to the anthropomorphic depictions, the zoomorphic drawings illustrate an unusual selection of animals, which were difficult to observe or approach at the time. Some of these are uniquely illustrated in Grotte Chauvet. As a result of the extremely stable interior climate over millennia, as well as the absence of natural damaging processes, the drawings and paintings have been preserved in a pristine state of conservation and in exceptional completeness.”
Mindful of the damage that the humidity from visitors caused to the Lascaux caves in the Dordogne, access has been severely restricted since its discovery in 1994. And hence why a painstakingly accurate replica has been built at nearby Vallon-Pont d’Arc (07 Ardeche, Rhone-Alpes), which has now been voted as one of the top sites which the French like to visit (according to France2 TV) – see www.ardeche-guide.com
It is likely to be very popular, so you can advance book your tickets online at http://en.cavernedupontdarc.fr/book-your-tickets/ At weekends and in high summer there is a free shuttle service from Vallon Pont d’Arc bus station.
There are several hotels, B&Bs and self-catering and campsites in the town – e.g. the Le Clos des Bruyères Hotel, a well-appointed modern hotel with pool.
For more info and to check availabilty at this Ardeche hotel see Le Clos des Bruyères Hotel