Caves and château.

I haven’t had time to go and photograph the finished barn wall, also, I have to wait for a bright but overcast day, so that there are no strong shadows falling onto the mural. Meanwhile, inspired by the caves beneath the gardens, we had a “Grand Day Out” on Monday and visited the celebrated caves of Rouffignac.

The visit takes an hour and takes you 1 mile into the maze of natural underground tunnels, via a little electric train. It’s humbling indeed to be in the presence of 14000 year old art, why did they do those drawings and engravings in such inaccessible places,  at that time only 1 metre high, in the flickering light of their tallow flames?  Why are there no other types of image, such as trees or hills? There are , apparently , a few paintings of people, but very few. Did they only draw animals because they were their life source: food and clothing ? But then, did they not eat fruits and nuts? Why are the animals represented as static?

A mammoth painted on the cave ceiling. 1.10m long.
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A mammoth engraved on the cave wall, the surface so soft that a single finger was used to outline it’s shape, what confidence is shown in that line! 1.35m.

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We also visited Château l’Helm, a romantic ruin, with the most beautiful spiral staircase. Although the floors and roof are fallen in, the many ornately carved fireplaces are wondrous to behold. The château was abandoned before the revolution, so the family crests still exist in their entirety. The owner who sells the entrance tickets, is anxious to tell you it’s for sale…..oh, if only…..

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The spiral staircase.

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The ‘palm’ at the top of the staircase.

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Some fireplaces with their “blazons” intact.

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6 thoughts on “Caves and château.

  1. Good to see that you two workaholics take a little downtime occasionally. (-;

    I love the idea of the little train trundling underground. And the mammoth drawings are lovely. The beautiful sweep of the tusks in the top one make you realise how majestic these long extinct beasts must have been.

  2. Liz, Thanks for sharing the cave stories. That whole piece of the world must be undermined with these museums. I remember once on the way to Sarlat a farmer had a sign on the road about a cave he had. We stopped and paid some small fee to see what he had. We went in this opening. He had a flashlight with a very weak battery and showed us a bison he’d just done in charcoal on the ceiling. His fingers were still black. We said wow and left when the flashlight went out. I liked the ruins. That isn’t the one you took us to once when we walked through the woods and met an Italian fashion photographer in an expensive leather jacket, is it? Graham spoke Italian to him and he answered with his cigarette in his mouth. Fred

    • Hi Fred, lovely to hear from you and what a great story from your time spent here in Perigord Pourpre. No, the ruin we took you to was Château de Commarque, the one built by the Knights Templar. That has changed somewhat since you visited it then, it’s still romantically hidden in the forest, still in ruins, but is now fenced all around so you have to pay to to get in. Another forlorn owner who sits in a kiosk selling tickets. I’ve no objection to that, the poor man has to make money somehow in order to preserve it…. Ha-ha, trust you to remember the Italian , and what a superb phrase ” he answered with his cigarette in his mouth” , that’s so wonderfully Fred Newton!!! XL

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