Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of our prehistoric ancestors?
During your holiday in the Lot department, you can do just that â€“ and you can see paintings they created between 16,000 and 25,000 BC.
Take a trip to one of the most awe-inspiring attractions near ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re, the Pech Merle caves.
The site is one of the few in France with prehistoric cave paintings which remain open to the public.
The cave system extends over 1.5km from the entrance, down into an area where a river once carved deep channels and where prehistoric people lived.
The cave entrance had been covered by a landslip until the 20th Century, giving the system an airtight seal.
Then, two teenage boys discovered the paintings in the deeper areas of the caves in 1922.
Henri and Andre David Dutetre had spent two years exploring the cave system, encouraged by local curate and amateur archaeologist Father AmÃ©dÃ©e Lemozi.
The caves opened to the public in 1926 and were classed as a historic monument in 1952.
In the seven chambers of the cave system, the walls show hundreds of breath-taking paintings of reindeer, woolly mammoths, bison, horses, and humans.
Some of the most touching images are those created when our prehistoric ancestors blew â€˜paintâ€™ over their hands using a delicate spitting technique, creating outlines on the wall which we see to this day.
Fossilised footprints of children, who once ran through the then clay floors, have been discovered more than a half a mile underground.
Itâ€™s believed the cave system was used for shelter during the Ice Age.
The area would have had a climate similar to that of the Arctic now, and its animal species were very different to those found in modern-day France.
The geology of the caves is also fascinating.
Visitors can see how they were formed and eroded by water over many thousands of years.
Youâ€™ll also marvel at the stalactites and calcite pearls in this amazing cave complex.
The number visiting the system is capped to ensure there is as little erosion as possible and that changes in gases underground caused by people breathing out carbon dioxide do not harm the beautiful cave paintings.
Visitors are advised to wear appropriate clothing and shoes for the conditions underground. The temperature is 12 degrees Celsius. There is also a discovery centre at the site. Find out more here.
Visit spectacular caves and drift along on an underground river
Youâ€™ll see more of Franceâ€™s geological heritage at the Gouffre de Padirac, considered the most spectacular cave system in France.
There, a steep descent takes you 103m below ground to a boat trip on a turquoise underground river with spectacular views.
Youâ€™ll also discover a 60m high stalactite hanging â€˜by a stringâ€™, and walk to find the most impressive cave ceiling in France in the Salle du Grand DÃ´me.
The awe-inspiring ceiling is 94m high.
Visitors are advised to book tickets in advance because it can become very busy and to be prepared for stairs and lifts. Discover more here.
Step into a lost world in an old mine
A former phosphorous mine is another underground wonder in Lot.
The Phosphatiere du Cloup dâ€™Aural, Bach, has been colonised by some surprising vegetation since the miners left the site in the 19th Century.
There are giant ferns and up to 13 different orchid species. It feels like walking through lush jungle.
The siteâ€™s fossils have provided a rich insight into the areaâ€™s prehistoric past.
Researchers have found more than 500 animal fossils dating back up to 34 million years. Visitors will learn about the prehistoric mammal the caducothÃ¨re, which resembled a rhinoceros.
Visitors are encouraged to take a 50-minute tour of the site.
Find out more here.
Is it time for your next riding holiday in the South of France? Contact us today about availability http://www.chateau-de-laumiere.com/enquire.php. Thereâ€™s so much to see and do on your trip.