NIAUX MAS D’AZIL PREHISTORIC PYRENEES
Explore a legacy that's unique in Europe
Why visit Niaux, Mas d’Azil and the Prehistoric Pyrenees?
- Ariège, a world-famous region for studying prehistory.
- A group of stunning sites all very close to each other: Niaux Cave, Mas d'Azil Cave, Bédeilhac Cave, La Vache Cave.
- A first class Prehistoric Park to get to grips with life 14,000 years ago.
- A stunning natural setting, the Ariège Pyrenees.
Take a leap into prehistory
Lying in a natural haven near Tarascon-sur-Ariège, the 13ha Prehistory Park unfurls indoors and outdoors. The site itself is staggering. Plan a day here as there's so much to see and do (you can eat at the on-site restaurant). Reconstructions, workshops run by "prehistoric men", games, introductions, interactive activities: you can see, touch, smell and even hear the sounds of our caveman ancestors' world. The scientific standard of the museum is remarkable.
Meet a life-size mammoth, see how to make fire with flint, play hide and seek behind the rocks and waterfalls: your kids are going to love the Prehistory Park.
Have a powerful and exclusive experience
Its cave art is a materpiece in its field. Niaux Cave welcomes visitors (booking required and strict terms and conditions) for small group tours of its famous Black Room. You'll see a parade of amazing bison, horses, ibex and deer adorning the walls of a huge roundhouse burrowed 700m from the cave entrance. You won't forget the sight of these picture-perfect paintings. Bring shoes and a jumper (12°C in the cave) for the tour (not recommended for under 5s).
What will impress you the most?
You'll be blown away by Bedeilhac Cave and its entrance's XXL dimensions: 40m wide, up to 80m high and 1km deep... It was used as a warehouse during World War II. The cave's first residents, hunters, have left their mark: cave paintings of prehistoric wildlife, children's hands painted on the walls and a very rare animal bas-relief sculpted from clay. Its impressive concretions are also worth the trip.
Whilst filming Le Passe-Montagne directed by Christian Bernadac in 1974, Georges Bonnet, a test pilot in Tarbes, took off from inside Bédeilhac Cave.
LA VACHE CAVE
Welcome to the home of Paleolithic hunters
La Vache Cave is burrowed into the same mountain range as the Niaux Cave and plunges you into a real seasonal habitat for Paleolithic hunters: the same ones who painted the Niaux's Black Room. Digs have excavated over a million items. They have provided a wealth of information about what life was like at the time. You'll see the remains of households, hunting weapons, reproductions of sculpted or engraved items. Everything is so real and so familiar. One of our ancestors could pop up any minute!
MAS D'AZIL CAVE
A real curiosity
Incredible: the road (the D119) goes through a cave for over 400m with the river (Arize) that created it running below! You're already in the Mas d’Azil Cave. But obviously you'll need to walk to experience its soul and history. Over the centuries it has been used as a shelter for persecuted people. Its first residents left highly sophisticated wooden reindeer sculptures, jewellery, painted pebbles... Artworks from the Paleolithic period that you can see at the Mas d'Azil Prehistory Museum.
Bungee jumping from the vault of a cave? You can only do it at Mas d'Azil. A 70m high drop head-first over the river! Wow!
A great family day out at the Prehistory Park
The Prehistory Park, at the foot of the Pyrenees and 4km from Tarascon-sur-Ariège, brings you a fun-filled and realistic escape from your everyday life to meet our Magdalenian ancestors: the men and women who lived in the Niaux Cave. Video 2 :33 © Sites Touristiques Ariège.
- By car: from Toulouse or Montpellier, the A61 motorway to Foix then the A66 to Pamiers then the fast road to Foix-Andorre (Tarascon-sur-Ariège 40km away).
- By plane: international airports: from Toulouse-Blagnac (120km from Tarascon-sur-Ariège) and Carcassonne-Salvaza Airports (100km from Tarascon-sur-Ariège).
- By train: regular direct lines Paris/Toulouse/La Tour de Carol. Tarascon-sur-Ariège station.