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Dordogne Cave Tours

Clarksburg...
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Dordogne Cave Tours

I am looking for any information on how to plan to visit three/four caves in Dordogne. How to make reservations and where? I don't speak French. Will this be a problem in making reservations? Anyone knows any group tours either guided or self-guided to visit only caves (no wine tours).

Los Angeles...
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1. Re: Dordogne Cave Tours

Know nothing about group tours to visit caves. We visited three (3) caves in September of 2009, all by making advance reservations, and all tours were led by a guide. I am running out now but hope not to forget to return and provide you with more details re contact information and logistics. It is really doable on your own. Where will you be basing yourself in the Dordogne?

Essex
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2. Re: Dordogne Cave Tours

Funnily enough just today and as a result of currently reading "The Shelters of Stone" I have been doing a little bit of webresearch on the caves in the Les Eyzies de Tayac region. There are official websites to be found for pretty well all of them, although sadly they are mainly in French only. However, each has contact details and I'm sure there is info on how to make reservations etc, here's the main one, which also includes Lascaux, go from there:

http://www.tourisme-vezere.com/

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Dordogne Cave Tours

both Font du Gaume and Lascaux II have tours in English -- it is critical to reserve ahead for Font du Gaume (IMHO the 'best' cave for pre-historic art -- both fabulous quality and the 'real deal' unlike Lascaux II which is fabulous art but a replica

you can reserve by phone and they speak enough English for to assist you reserve (in fact the lovely lady at the desk made half a dozen calls to a small private cave I hoped to visit to try to arrange a visit -- she couldn't get a response -- but I was grateful that she was willing as my French is barely adequate for making reservations)

We have visited Lascaux II twice and had no trouble booking tickets by just walking up to the office in Montignac (you have to get tickets there not at the cave site which has no ticket office)

We also just walked up for Roffignac --where the tour was in French (the other companions on the little train into the mountain were all French 5th graders)

Peche Merle which is a goodly ways away is well worth a visit -- the tour was in French but they had a handout in English -- this cave has a few pieces of cave art (and I am very suspicious of the authenticity particularly the spotted horses) but the cave itself is also lovely

we have mostly visited in late May and never had any trouble arranging and doing these on our own -- in peak tourist season booking ahead is wise

Edited: 01 November 2010, 22:32
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4. Re: Dordogne Cave Tours

Since "best" is certainly in the eye of the beholder, here are my subjective opinions:

IMO, Pech Merle may be the best cave in terms of original pre-historic cave paintings, stalactites & stalagmites. True, the tour is in French but, in addition to the handout, the very gracious tour guide would step toward us (husband and I were the only English speaking visitors during this tour) and quickly translate what she told the rest of the group in French. Personally, I would have been just as happy with visual observations. Log onto http://www.quercy.net/pechmerle/index.html and e-mail the site re your intended date and time of visit. Try this: res@pechmerle.com. You will have to pay in advance by credit card. It is a one hour tour.

You might enjoy Gouffre de Padirac http://www.gouffre-de-padirac.com/. Husband loved it. No reservations are necessary for that one.

You need to reserve at Font du Gaume. Just google the name and e-mail them. The tour is in English but it is very short; the accessible area is very narrow and art is minimal. It is very nice but not much for the effort. Again, this is my subjective opinion.

Despite this not being "the original," Lascaux II replica is fantastic. IMO, all other caves we visited paled in comparison. There is an English tour daily (verify the time when you are planning your schedule). Despite several attempts at e-mailing and calling before our arrival in the Dordogne, and calling once in Dordogne, we were advised that we could only purchase tickets at the box office in Montignac. We drove there one afternoon and purchased tickets for a tour few days ahead. I think we could have purchased tickets for the same day tour, but we had other plans.

Good luck!

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Dordogne Cave Tours

We found that in early October there really was no need to reserve. All the caves we visited were available - the 'busiest' was Font de Gaume where we arrived at about 3pm and got into a 4pm tour. We didn't worry about trying to get English tours but just tagged onto the next available. We found that all spoke English sufficiently for us to completely undertand the tour (for which we were quite grateful that they make that effort in a French tour), other people on the tour helped translate (thank you Canadians), and the 'pointing' of the features was really clear in any case.

We had a great time and went to quite a few more caves than we had planned because we got so much from the visits. Interestingly, our favourites included Font de Gaume - we were on a French tour and it was not short - from memory about one and a half hours. Maybe being in the last tours of the day helped there.

Clarksburg...
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6. Re: Dordogne Cave Tours

Thank you for your information. We are just in the starting phases of planning the trip. We hope to rent a house and car and then have planned day trips to the caves and medieval villages. Again, thanks!

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Dordogne Cave Tours

Another interesting cave (but less touristed by non French I think) is the Gouffre du Proumeyssac, which is at this link

http://www.perigord.com/proumeyssac/

It is a very high cathedral-like cavern. They have a basket system to lower visitors down into the cave, like in the old days - very dramatic! I don't think you'll have trouble reading their website (ie "groupes, reservations, informations" are all same as English etc)

It's at Le Bugue, a small market town on the Dordogne, not far west of Sarlat.

8. Re: Dordogne Cave Tours

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