Caves and prehistoric sites

Grotte de la Chaise Vouthon

The Charente has played a key role in helping to understand what we know today about the first inhabitants of the centre-west part of France.  The banks of the Charente River were colonised by the Homo erectus.  Their successors, the Neanderthal humans and then European early modern humans or Cro-Magnon (Homo sapiens) lived in the numerous shelters created by the limestone caves.

The Tardoire Valley is a major European prehistoric site.  Its distinctive Karst landscape, characteristic of the area, was a popular resting place for our prehistoric ancestors who found shelter in the limestone caves.  These caves prove humans have settled in the region for more than 300,000 years.  They include the Ammonite and Le Placard caves in Vilhonneur, the La Chaise caves in Vouthon, the Fontechevade and Montgaudier caves in Montbron and the prehistoric site of l’Aven de Marillac.  Some of these sites, such as La Chaise and Le Placard are internationally renowned.

 


Unfortunately, only a few of these sites are open to the public.  The exception being the Le Placard cave in Vilhonneur and the Le Quéroy caves in Chazelles.  A visit to the prehistoric discovery centre in Montbron (Espace d’initiation à la préhistoire charentaise) will give you the answers to all your questions about our ancestors.


Grotte du Placard Vilhonneur

La grotte du Placard – Vilhonneur

A visit to the Le Placard cave will transport you back in time.  Located next to the Moulin de la Pierre, on the banks of the Tardoire River, the cave entrance is a few minutes’ walk into the forest, carved into the cliff.  One of the cave walls has intricate ‘Placard’ style engravings of animals and other abstract signs, other examples of which can be found in the famous caves of Lascaux and Pech Merle.

Open in July and August,

by appointment only. 

Please contact the tourist office for more information.

 


Grottes du Quéroy Chazelles

Les grottes du Quéroy – Chazelles

The Le Quéroy caves are located on the edge of the Bois-Blanc national forest.  The caves were formed by underground rivers and have retained all their original features.  Beautiful rock formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, concretions and draperies adorn approximately 30 chambers and as many tunnels.  In addition to the incredible natural beauty of these caves, numerous objects left behind by their prehistoric dwellers are on display in the Musée d’Angoulême, including tools and bones.

Open from May to October. 

Bookings are not needed. 

Please contact +33 (0)5 45 70 38 14

 


Espace Préhistoire Montbron

Espace d’initiation à la préhistoire charentaise – Montbron

Located in Montbron’s ‘anciennes halles’, this prehistoric discovery centre contains a wealth of information on prehistoric discoveries in the Charente region, including up to date details of local sites, the civilisation of Homo erectus, Neanderthal humans and then European early modern humans (Cro-Magnon).  The centre also includes the work of prehistoric experts such as Dr Leon Henri-Martin.

Open in July and August. 

Free entry. 

Please contact the tourist office for more information.

 



Also worth a visit:

  • Le Roc de Sers: visit a replica of the original parietal wall paintings thought to be over 18,000 years old.
  • La Chaire a Calvin in Mouthiers sur Boëme is an easily accessible, outdoors site known for its incredible animal paintings, approximately 15,000 years old.