30°C all day long! What could be better to walk deep into a cave where temperatures are 13°C and the humidity at 100%, and admire the fantastic cave paintings made by the Cro Magnon people? A 2.5 hours drive southeast from Les Eyzies, in Lot et Garonne, is the beautiful cave of Pech Merle. Luckily this cave has the capacity to welcome a large number of people each day, which would not have been possible at Font de Gaume, where we usually visit. Pech Merle has not only the fantastic horse paintings in black and red, but also quite a number of bison, and mammoth, engravings and the enigmatic hands. On top of all this, the 4 km long cave offers great views on stalagmites and stalagtites and other strange cave formations. The museum also offers an introduction to the cave with English subtitles, and leaflets in English and Danish, and has really friendly guides who speak some English and who take their time when I make my translations to Swedish. Quite a difference to Font de Gaume, where I each time get the feeling that I am a burden and that I should be grateful for having been admitted at all.
The tiny town of St. Cirq-Lapopie was our short stop for lunch. Of course we should have had more time to explore this great place, to walk around in the steep little streets, to admire the medieval houses, to eat lunch in peace, to visit the small shops and the museum. But we had, unfortunately not the time, because we had an appointment at our next stop, at the cave of Cougnac, where more cave paintings were waiting for us. Cougnac is some 20 km southeast of Sarlat, and more or less on the way back to Les Eyzies. Roads are small and it takes much longer time to drive 30 km on these winding roads and through the small villages, as compared to Sweden. I had counted a bit short of time for the drive from St. Cirq-Lapopie to Cougnac and we arrived therefore 15 minutes late. But fortunately this was no problem, our group was admitted, and had a nice visit in both caves, the one with the drawings and the other cave with its nice stalgmites and stalagtites. Cougnac features mammoth, ibex, and giant deer, painted in red iron oxide and charcoal, but has also two interesting figurines, which seem to have been pierced by spears.
Tomorrow is the last day of the excursion. We will visit Rouffignac in the morning and will conclude with another visit to the museum in Les Eyzies and a lecture by Francesco d’Errico from Bordeaux. And, of course we will have our joint lunch in Laugerie Basse Chez Jugie.