Cave Painting

There are two important prehistoric cave-painting sites near Tarascon sur Ariege in the Ariege department.

Those at Bedeilhac were discovered in 1906 by a local priest, and hold hundreds of prehistoric cave-paintings, covering the more than 10,000 years during which the caves were inhabited. The paintings date from 15,000 years ago, and there are even some clay relief panels, which are thus far thought to be unique in the world.

The entrance cavern is huge, and the gallery that follows is 700 metres long, and up to 30 metres high. During the Second World War, this gallery was even used as an aircraft repair depot.

The caves at Niaux, 4 kilometres south-west of Tarascon, date from the same period as Bedeilhac, and are even finer in the artistic skill that they demonstrate. The artists even used the unevenness of the rock surface to give perspective to their work. Two of the caves at Niaux which are closed to the public due to the fragility of their contents are reconstructed at the Prehistoric Art park just outside Tarascon.

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