Pech Merle is a cave which opens onto a hillside at Cabrerets in the Lot departement of the Occitania region in France (Massif Central), about 32 km by road east of Cahors. It is one of the few prehistoric cave painting sites in France that remain open to the general public.

Extending over 2 kilometres over two levels, of which only 1,200 m (3,900 ft) are open to the public, are caverns, wells and sloping tunnels, the walls of which are painted with dramatic murals dating from the Gravettian culture (some 25,000 years BC). Some of the paintings and engravings, however, may date from the later Magdalenian era (16,000 years BC).

This cave was created over 2 million years ago by an underground river, cutting channels which were later used by humans for shelter and eventually for mural painting. The galleries are mostly dry, 10 meters wide on average. The height under the vault is between 5 and 10 meters high.

The cave features 700 painted or engraved motifs, including 69 animal figures, 13 human or para-human figures and 595 signs. The animal figures include 25 mammoths, 13 bison, 9 horses, 7 aurochs, 4 deer including 1 megaceros, 2 ibex, 2 fish (1 doubtful), 1 feline, 1 bear and 5 imaginary animals. Human figures are either realistic (3 women and 1 man) or schematic (9 “bison-women” in Leroi-Gourhan’s terminology).

The vast majority of motifs are simple signs (543 red or black punctuations blown or printed with the fingertips), various geometric patterns, sticks and indeterminate motifs (improperly called hieroglyphic motifs). The ensemble comprises several panels named after the main motifs represented.

Working hours

Opening winter holidays: from February 16 to March 5, from 1.30 PM to 5 PM

Opening season

  • From April 1st to July 9 From 9.30 AM to 12 AM – From 1.30 PM to 5 PM
  • From July 10 to September 3 From 9.30 AM to 5 PM
  • From September 4 to November 5 From 9.30 AM to 12 AM – From 1.30 PM to 5 PM


  • Single 15 years and over 15.00 €
  • Single from 5 to 14 years 8.50 €
  • Single children under 53.50 €

How to get to?

From Paris: 6 hr 2 min (569 km) via A20

From Toulouse: 1 hr 46 min (143 km) via A20

From Andorra: 4 hr 2 min (324 km) via A20

From Barcelona: 5 hr 14 min (534 km) via AP-7 and A61

From Madrid: 9 hr 20 min (897 km) via A-1

See here Pyrenees travel guide

See here France travel guide

See here Spain travel guide

Read more: Interesting places in the Pyrenees and around with Jane Cautch ...