The caves in the Canyon

Early human Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were usually nomads, but at the Canyon at Saulges there are signs that these people began a long and continuous period of settlement here. In 1967, some magnificent ancient paintings of bison, horses and mammoths were found in one of the caves (the grotte de Dérouine; not open to the public) and this subsequently this area became an important site for the study of early hunter-gatherer communities.

Two caves are open to visitors; the Grotte à Margot and the Grotte de Rochefort, and each is accessed only by guided tour. The commentary is usually offered in French, although other languages can sometimes be catered for by arrangement.

The Grotte de Rochefort offers many interesting and curious limestone formations and you will be led down to an underground river that flows beneath. The Grotte à Margot also houses a colony of bats, and traces of paleolithic paintings have also been discovered here recently. However, you will have to come to your own conclusion regarding Margot, the young lady, who, according to legend, disappeared after entering the cave. Was she a witch or not?

The location itself is also very attractive; the river Erve is lovely to walk along or picnic beside; the cliffs offer seclusion and climbing opportunities and the bar/restaurant offers shade, a seat, a meal and a drink.

This site is a gentle walk from Le Domaine des Hallais; no more than 200 metres. Turn right out of he gates, walk down to the river, over the bridge and start up the hill. The reception for the tours is on the right, just past the restaurant. The guided visits to the caves last about 40 minutes per cave and you can choose to visit either or both. There are some steep stairs, ladders and narrow paths in the caves, which could be difficult for anyone of reduced mobility.

The caves are open from 15th March to 15th November; the Winter closure is for the bat colony hibernation season. There is a small entrance charge. For further information click here.

An excellent museum focusing on prehistoric times opened in March 2017 displaying some of the artifacts found in these caves as well as replicas of the cave paintings found in a third cave not accessible to the public. It has interesting displays, with signage in French and English throughout.

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