An art gallery in a palace of Nature.
Heritage worth preserving
A real prehistoric cave is an exceptional place which cannot be visited in the same way as an ordinary monument, nor like a copy of a cavern. The paintings in Pech Merle are over 20,000 years old and have come down to us in a remarkable state of preservation. However, they are still extremely fragile.
In order to preserve them, the number of visitors and the duration of the visit are limited.
The cave is easy of access and can be entered by most people.
Visitors are shown round by a guide in groups of 25 persons maximum ; the visit lasts 1 hour.
The Pech Merle cave is vast. Its full length is over two kilometres. The individual caverns are very large in volume.
The upper gallery network of Pech Merle, with no traces of prehistoric human presence, was explored at the beginning of the 20th C. The prehistoric galleries of the lower network were discovered in 1922 by André David, Henri Dutertre, and Marthe David, aged sixteen, fifteen and thirteen respectively. The study of the paintings and engravings was immediately undertaken by Abbé Amédée Lemozi, the parish priest of Cabrerets.
The cave has been open to the public since 1926. It was classified as a « Historic Monument » en 1952. The commune of Cabrerets is the proprietor and manages the visits.
Its geological interest is fundamental. All the stages of its formation, which lasted over several million years, are still visible : its carving out by the action of water, the collapses, and successive episodes of filling in and hollowing out, the formation of different types of crystalline formations. It is a real history of the Earth.
One of the principal characteristics of this cave is the association of natural beauty with prehistoric art works.
These are numerous, well-preserved, and representative of all the techniques and subjects of cave art.