Le Thot, Dordogne; a superb prehistoric site

Photo of Le Thot

Visit Le Thot

Le Thot can be found near to the riverside town of Montignac in the Vezere Valley.

Le Thot is a site dedicated to the Cro-Magnon period of history. This is the period that the famous paintings of the Lascaux Caves were painted and Le Thot makes an excellent addition to a visit to Lascaux.

When you visit Lascaux II a large part of the Lascaux caves is reproduced for your visit but not all the paintings. At Le Thot you can see exact reproductions of some of the paintings not visible at Lascaux.

Unlike Lascaux II the whole cave experience has not been recreated however each painting is reproduced in the same way on a reproduction of the actual rock so that you can see an exact copy of the original including the way the shape of the rock was integrated into the paintings.

At Le Thot it is a bit like entering into an incredible pre-historic art gallery rather than a cave. The paintings really are incredible both in their size and detail and the skill they display. I cannot recommend enough a visit to both Lascaux and Le Thot to admire these paintings.

Explore Le Thot

Le ThotIn the underground chamber at Le Thot you can see reproductions of some of the paintings that were not reproduced for Lascaux II. There are four huge panels that make up the 'Nave gallery' and also the 'Scene du puits'.

The 'Scene du puits' is particularly interesting as it depicts a man, a bird and a rhinocerous. Not only are these three figures not displayed anywhere else in the Lascaux caves but in fact it is extremely rare to find a human figure painted in any pre-historic art. This particular painting is more simplified than most and its exact interpretation is unclear. The human figure appears to be falling backwards in front of the charging rhinocerous.

More impressive from a visual point of few are the panels from the Nave gallery particularly the 'Black Cow' panel and the 'Back to Back Bisons' panel. The Black Cow panel is 7m long and there are more than 30 figures represented on it. These are mostly horses but the black cow is the largest figure. Various artistic techniques were used on this section of rock including engraving, painting with a brush and blowing or dabbling paint. The colours include red, yellow, brown and black.

The Back to Back Bison panel shows clearly the pre-historic painter's mastery of techniques to show movement revealing a quite sophisticated approach to painting.

The next part of the museum contains three cinema screens each one giving a detailed account of how the panels were created. Even if you don't speak French these are very interesting as each part of the scene is built up gradually allowing you to see the figures that are not immediately visible. For example the rear part of the black cow virtually hides a picture of two horses mating but all the figures are shown layer by layer on the cinema screen.

A final next part of the museum recreates scenes of Cro-magnon life including life size models hunting.

Le Thot animal park

Le ThotThe animal park has been filled with animals that are descended from pre-historic times and many are similar to those painted on the walls of Lascaux.

Interesting information panels next to the animals indicate which paintings the animals appear in.

The collection of animals includes bison, aurochs, Tarpan horses, deer and mountain goats.

Opening Hours

16 February to 12 April: 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.30, closed Mondays

13 April to 05 July: 10.00-18.00

06 July to 31 August/ 10.00-19.00

01 September to 06 November: 10.00-18.00

07 November to 31 December: 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.30, closed Mondays

Closed January

Adults 7.20€, children 4.70€. If you go to Le Thot and Lascaux you can get a price reduction.

Places to Visit Nearby

A visit to Lascaux Caves is a must if you are this close, they are magnificent.

The pretty riverside town of Montignac which is home to the caves is also very nice and warrants a visit.

The charming Chateau de Losse with its pretty gardens is just across the road from Le Thot.

See also:

Photos of Le Thot

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • aurochs
  • deer-pond
  • deer
  • goats
  • hairy-donkey
  • hairy-mamouth

Map of Le Thot and places to visit

Le Thot places to visit