InspireKeith Van SickleWhat's On Provence & Cote d'Azur

Grotte Chauvet a Chance to See the Prehistoric Art by Torchlight

The Grotte Chauvet 2 is one of the wonders of France. Called “the cave of forgotten dreams,” it is the near-perfect replica of a cave filled with paintings made more than 30,000 years ago—the oldest ever discovered. Not only is the art recreated, but the entire cave is replicated down to the smallest detail, with stalagmites and stalactites here and there and bear skulls scattered on the ground. Walking through it, and seeing paintings of lions and rhinos, is like stepping back in time.

Grotte Chauvet by Torchlight

©Patrick Aventurier

Torchlight Tours

And now there’s something new—tours by torchlight. Small groups are led by guides armed with torches, viewing the stunning artwork in their flickering light. Visitors can see the paintings as our ancestors did, with the works coming to life as the shadows play on the walls’ nooks and crannies.

Grotte Chauvet by Torchlight

© Grotte Chauvet 2 – Ardèche

The torches are a recent invention made with LEDs rather than wood and pitch that would have been used at the time. These LED torches faithfully recreate the light without any damaging smoke.

The tours are in French. However, audio guides are available in English and other languages. Buying tickets in advance is strongly recommended. Here is a video teaser:

Practical Information

The torchlight tours run through March 31, and then the regular tours begin again in April. Also starting in April is a new spectacle in the next-door visitor center. It is a 360-degree immersive show called ANIMAL that will allow the spectator to wander through 36,000 years of parietal art, from caves to contemporary street art.

Grotte Chauvet 2 website

Booking tickets

Grotte Chauvet 2 news

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Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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