The Cave of Pont d'Arc in Ardèche
First Came Our Ancestors… The representations of animals on the walls only came later. Incredible drawings of mammoths, bison, bears, and lions mixed with human handprints. Welcome to the Cave of Pont d’Arc, a replica of the Chauvet Cave that has open to the public in Spring 2015.
The decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc, known as the "Chauvet Cave", was discovered in 1994 and is recognized as one of the greatest testaments to early human origins. To celebrate such a unique site, this cultural, scientific, and technological project was implemented at the Vallon-Pont-d’Arc site.
Creating an identical replica of the greatest early-human masterpiece became an immense project, reserved for only the most highly-skilled replication artists.
Sculptors and painters, under the supervision of scientists, recreated each geological and artistic characteristic of the decorated Cave of Pont-d’Arc.
Results: a 30,000 square-foot space and more than 80,000 square feet of decorated walls and ceilings, created with the help of 3D technology.
36 Lions Chasing Mammoths…
In the cave opens you’ll be surrounded by the same ambiance as the original place. Even the cool air, the humidity, the smells, and the darkness will be perfectly reproduced by perfume makers…You’ll have the same olfactory experience as the first people who discovered the caves!
Ready for your visit? It may be frighteningly real, with each step taking you closer to the 425 dangerous animals; the most monumental panel is of 36 lions, chasing down nearly 100 mammoths, bison, and rhinoceroses.
This reproduction, a fac-simile of a Paleolithic masterpiece, illustrates Man’s first artistic creation, dating back 30,000 years. It immortalizes this time period’s specific aesthetic—the oldest drawing, shading, perspective, and movement techniques ever discovered.
2 Exhibition Spaces
Once you’ve completed the tour of the cavern (about 55 minutes), in the midst of the stalagmites and stalactites, you’ll have the choice to explore 2 exhibition spaces.
- The first space highlights the everyday art techniques utilized by the Aurignacian people. Interactive displays allow for one to discover the origins of our civilization and celebrate the largest replicated decorated cave in the world.
- The second exhibition is a behind the scenes of the construction of the cave. A true architectural tour de force, it truly deserves the title of the largest replicated decorated cave ever created. The site, constructed in the hills of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, is 2 kilometers from the original cave and perfectly integrated into the surrounding area.
It’s in the shape of a bear’s footprint… a nod to the animal who once hibernated here.
- Accessible from the North by A7 and A49 via Exit 18, and from the South by A7 or A9 via Exit 19. Then take N7 and D4 to Vallon-Pont-d’Arc.
- 2.5 hours from Lyon, Marseille and Montpellier.
- 1.5 hours from Avignon, Nîmes and Valence.
Free parking for cars, buses, and campers.
- Valence TGV or Montélimar Station.
- Then take the Rhône-Alpes 76 Bus to Vallon Pont-d’Arc
- Marseille-Provence or Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airports.
La Caverne du Pont d'Arc
Plateau du Razal