Chauvet Cave: Now UNESCO's Oldest World Heritage Site

Horses - © Jean Clottes - Le Centre National de Préhistoire

The committee meeting at UNESCO’s 38th session has added the Prehistoric Painted Cave of Pont-d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet, in the Ardèche region of Southern France, on the World Heritage List of cultural properties. The cave is thought to date back 36,000 years.

The cave sits on some pretty interesting property, as you can see on the map below. The gorges of the river Ardèche start here, and the stretch between Vallon Pont-d’Arc and the point where the Ardèche river joins the Rhone is popular with canoe and kayak enthusiasts.

You can’t visit the original cave these days. But you can see a replica cave with the prehistoric images in their right places, a work like they performed at Lascaux. Despite the fact that Lascaux is much more widely known, Chauvet at 8000 square meters is quite a bit bigger than Lascaux at 1500 square meters. The Lascaux facsimile cave is a mere 500 meters square, while Chauvet’s will be around 3000. The Cavern of Pont-d’Arc is what the replica cave is called now, and you are encouraged to book your tickets online, which you can do exclusively online at the official site.

There are even unguided evening visits in summer. The Cavern Pont D’Arc has a Facebook page you can peruse as well.

The closest town is Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France, which becomes a madhouse with adventure tourists during the summer season. You might wish to come in the spring when the water is still high but with fewer folks on the river. There is lots of camping around the real and the fake cave site. You can also search for the best hotel prices in Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France

Map of Grotte Chauvet and Area

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