• France's news in English
 

French town probes 'second' Lascaux cave

Published: 02 Jan 2014 10:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Jan 2014 12:07 GMT+01:00

A group of teenagers in the south west of France in 1940 stumble across what turns out to be a complex network of Paleolithic caves with a series of astonishing 17,000-year-old frescos, which becomes known as the “Sistine Chapel of the Prehistoric era.”

You might assume this type of thing only happens once in the same region, but authorities in the town of Montignac, Dordogne are probing the possibility of the existence of a second Lascaux cave.

The rumours of a second cave covered in pre-historic artwork have been circulating for years, but it appears local authorities are now ready to take them seriously after one local family shared an extraordinary secret they had kept to themselves for half a century.

According to French media reports this week, preliminary investigations by the town’s mayor, as well as authorities in the Dordogne region, have proved promising enough to warrant a more detailed probe into a patch of land 4 km from the site of the Lascaux caves.

“There’s no certainty, and we are still quite far from having the necessary evidence to confirm the existence of another decorated cave,” Montignac mayor Laurent Mathieu told French daily Le Figaro this week.

Despite that caution, however, Mathieu did confirm that the culture department of the Dordogne regional administration would soon be mapping out a 10-hectare area for “further research.”

This region will also be placed under surveillance, to prevent amateur archaeologists from conducting their own, unsupervised investigations.

The possibility of a second momentous discovery near the south-western town came about in August, when a local woman in her 70s approached Mathieu with an extraordinary claim.

She told him her husband – who died in August – had come across a cave with prehistoric frescos back in 1962, but covered the entrance back up, for fear of bringing hassle on himself, according to France Info radio.

The secret had stayed in the family for 51 years, until she finally shared it with the mayor.

The original cave art at Lascaux was found in 1940, and attracted hordes of visitors until it was closed to the public in 1983.

A partial set of detailed imitations located next to the original cave have since brought roughly 10 million visitors to the region, a result that politicians and residents in Montignac will be hoping they can replicate with a brand new set of prehistoric paintings.

A member of staff at the local tourist office told The Local on Thursday that the possibility of a second Lascaux cave was the topic of conversation on everyone's lips.

"The rumours have been around for a while, but everyone is talking about it now. For the moment we just don't know.

"The mayor believes the story but there are other archaeologists who doubt it. If a second cave was found it would be excellent for the region," she added.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs
The tyres are hauled up from the seabed. Photo: AFP

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs

Tourists and film stars hitting the beach at the French Riviera resort of Cannes may be blissfully unaware but lurking beneath the sparkling waves are tens of thousands of now troublesome scrap tyres, sunk deliberately to boost marine development. READ  

French films
The best French films you've never heard of
French actor Tahar Rahim in a scene from A Prophet. Photo: YouTube/Screengrab

The best French films you've never heard of

With the Cannes Film Festival nearing its end and with everyone talking about everything film - we take a look back at the best ten French movies you've probably never heard of, thanks to French cinema expert Judith Prescott. READ  

Tourism in Paris
Eiffel Tower shuts as staff protest pickpockets
Tourists at the France's iconic Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP

Eiffel Tower shuts as staff protest pickpockets

The Eiffel Tower was closed on Friday morning, as workers protested over the scourge of pickpockets around the famous monument, who they say have threatened and attacked them. READ  

Paris couple found in flat with throats slit
Photo: AFP

Paris couple found in flat with throats slit

A woman, who was reportedly pregnant, was found dead with her throat slit in a Paris apartment on Friday while her partner was left in a critical condition. An electric sander was found running beside their bodies. READ  

Cannes Film Festival
Sophie Marceau: Queen of baring all at Cannes
Sophie Marceau is a member of the Feature Film jury this year at Cannes. Photo: AFP

Sophie Marceau: Queen of baring all at Cannes

French actress Sophie Marceau is surely the undisputed queen of the Cannes wardrobe malfunction after her plunging jacket gave photographers more than an eyeful once again this week. And it's not the first time she's given the paparazzi palpitations. READ  

Cameron to visit Paris to push for EU reform
UK PM David Cameron will hope to convince François Hollande that Britain should be allowed to renegotiate its relationship to the EU. Photo: AFP

Cameron to visit Paris to push for EU reform

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to visit Paris next week as part of his charm offensive as he tries to persuade European leaders to allow Britain to renegotiate its ties with the EU, ahead of a planned In/Out referendum in the UK. READ  

Homes in northern France shaken by quake
The quake was felt across the Channel in the northern French departement of Pas-de-Calais. Photo: France's Central Bureau of Seismology (BCSF)

Homes in northern France shaken by quake

The tremors from a 4.4 magnitude earthquake were felt in northern France early on Friday morning, prompting several worried calls to the emergency services. READ  

France: 'World must act over threat to Palmyra'
The ancient city of Palmyra whose archaeological treasures are threatened by Isis. Photo: AFP

France: 'World must act over threat to Palmyra'

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday said the world must respond to Islamic State jihadists' seizure of Palmyra amid fears they could destroy the Syrian city's world renowned ancient monuments. READ  

French supermarkets to give away unsold food
Wasting edible food is "scandalous" said one French MP. Photo: Mikey Jones/AFP

French supermarkets to give away unsold food

France has taken steps to crackdown on the amount of food wasted by supermarkets when MPs voted to outlaw the destruction of unsold products. Instead they will have to hand any edible food goods over to charities. READ  

Pupil sent bullets after Charlie Hebdo Tribute
A march following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris brought millions onto the streets. Photo: AFP

Pupil sent bullets after Charlie Hebdo Tribute

Teachers and students at a French school rallied Thursday in support of a pupil who received death threats for publishing an edition of the school newspaper in support of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Take a tour of the best Metro stations that Paris has to offer
National
Soon there'll be a fixed fare for a taxi ride from the airport into Paris
National
Drug dealers in Marseille are offering customers loyalty cards
Soon there'll be no minimum for using your bank card in France
Features
Eurovision is around the corner - and we don't fancy France's chances
Features
Fancy starting a business and living in Paris? There's help available
National
Are you fearing a Brexit? Maybe it's time to become a French citizen
How hard-up French are tempted by money to take migrants to the UK
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Education
More English words (including 'le selfie') sneak into French
Charlie Hebdo to give €4.3m to attack victims
National
French Protestants bless gay marriage
Opinion
Why elitism is dragging France down
Features
RECIPE: How to make your own picnic-perfect meringues
Business & Money
French tax declaration deadline: Key things to remember
VIDEO: Can YOU pronounce the trickiest word in French?
France tops holiday wish list for children
National
Study: Women do bulk of housework in France
National
VIDEO: Police use force on Calais migrants
National
This man is France's Instagram king. But who else makes the top list?
Features
Free museum entry, film festivals, sports... see What's On this in May
Culture
Behind the curtain: A closer look at the Cannes Film Festival
National
It's a boy! Baby born on Air France flight to Paris
Features
Love-locked: Whatever happened to Paris's beautiful bridges?
'Forget the UK election, expats should be able to vote in France'
Thomas Piketty backs Miliband for Britain but not Hollande for France
Gallery
The most spectacular sunset pictures from around France
National
France tells migrants in Calais to 'forget the UK and stay here'
Who's to blame? Trial after Frenchman dies downing 56 shots
Society
VIDEO: See what's beneath the surface of the French Riviera
National
French teen suicide after sex video web bullying
France launches bid to buy Europe's biggest and most spectacular dune
Business & Money
Why May 2015 is the best month in years to work in France
Five great outdoor bars in Paris to check out this summer
Double standards? French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
National
France goes on the defensive after UN experts say 'racism is trivialised'
Five reasons we should be worried about France's new snooping laws
International
The French don't seem to care about the UK election and that's normal
Culture
Only in France? Naked comedian stuns French culture minister
Migrant camps spring up in the heart of Paris
International
France bags another fighter jet deal but should Paris thank the US?
Society
French elevator protocol: Greeting, flirting and yes, even sex
Travel
Getting from CDG airport to Paris by road should now be a lot quicker
Politics
Why all the dodgy ties? A French view of the UK general election
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se