The Chauvet Cave & the Pont d'Arc Cave
DECEMBER 18, 1994
It's a Sunday. Equipped with lamps, Jean-Marie Chauvet, Éliette Brunel and Christian Hillaire, decide to engage in the narrow casing discovered a few months earlier. The trio ramps meter after meter. Progress is difficult. The three speleo-explorers get stuck several times before reaching the ceiling of a large gallery. This winter expedition will change the course of their lives. It is Eliette who discovers on the walls the first drawing: two small lines with red ocher. The trio goes from discovery to discovery. In the beam of their lamp appear representations of cave lions, woolly rhinos, mammoths, bears, megaceros, owls, horses ... and animated animal frescoes! He decided, with the agreement of the Ministry of Culture, to give the name of "Chauvet" to the cavity. Eliette and Christian are not forgotten because two large rooms of the cave are called "Salle Brunel" and "Salle Hillaire".
The Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cave is located in the Estre valley near the Pont d'Arc and the Ardèche river. In prehistoric times, the entrance to the cave was 8m high and 15m wide. Located in the middle of the cliff at a hundred meters from the ground, she saw herself from a distance. If the drawings of the cavity were so well preserved, it is thanks to the collapse of the upper cliff 22 000 years ago permanently blocking its access. Without the discovery of a blower hole in the heart of the cliff, the cave and its treasures would probably never have been discovered. The temperature in the cavities is constant, summer and winter: 13 ° C. In winter when temperatures are negative, cave explorers look for hot air currents or blowing holes, proof of the existence behind the rock, large underground galleries. And this was the case for the Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cave.
The discovery of the Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cave was a global event. In France and in the world, Lascaux located in the Dordogne was the reference cave. However, as much time has passed between our time and Lascaux (18,000 years ago) as between Lascaux and Chauvet with its drawings dating back 36,000 years! Beyond its antiquity, the ornate Ardèche cave is distinguished from other cavities by the beauty of the drawings or engravings, the remarkable technical mastery of the artists, its incredible bestiary with 14 animals represented, a majority of dangerous mammals. For example, there is the largest concentration in the world of felines (80) or rhinoceroses (72). Finally, the animal frescoes drawn on the rock tell stories and we can consider them as the first fruits of the cartoon or the comic strip!
The great Wall of China. The pyramids of Egypt. The archaeological site of Olympia in Greece. The Taj Mahal in India. The Mont Saint Michel. Easter Island and its giant statutes in Chile ... and the Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cave. Since June 22, 2014, the jewel of Ardèche wall art has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. With this recognition, the cave has entered the Hall of World Heritage and confirms its status as an artistic masterpiece and unique testimony of the history of humanity.
The cave has been closed to the public since its discovery to avoid damage, hence the decision to create the cave of Pont d'Arc to allow everyone to enjoy it safely!
The Caverne du Pont-d'Arc is open every day, all year long and close to the campsite Les Truffiéres open year-round!
Opening hours of the Pont d'Arc cave
January: 10h - 17h
February / March: 10h - 18h
April / May / June: 10h - 19h
July / August: 09h - 20h30
September: 10h - 19h
October / November (until 14): 10h - 18h
November (from the 15th) / December: 10h - 17h
All information on http://www.cavernedupontdarc.fr/