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GROTTES d'AZE - Prehistoric Caves, Southern Burgundy
This system is the second important prehistoric cave site in Burgundy. Unlike the Grottes d’Arcy there are no paintings or strange hand-prints, but the remains of bears and big cats were discovered there. Apparently they lived alongside humans to a depth of 200 meters – which must have made going out for an evening stroll somewhat perilous. There is a mock-up of the kind of cage, it is believed, that Cro-Magnon man kept his family in to avoid unpleasantness with the furry neighbours.
The caves, not far from Solutré, are the longest and probably the oldest in Burgundy dating from between 300,000 and 400,000 BCE. There are two caves to the visit on three levels and one has an underground river with a spectacularly lit waterfall. You can see the effects of erosion, animal fossils, and crustaceans in rock from the Jurassic period.
The guided visit lasts an hour and a half and is ideal for a family outing. There are audio guides in English, German and Dutch. The cemented pathways and clever lighting make the caves accessible to all including accompanied people with reduced mobility. You will be in a constant temperature of 12 degrees – so wrap up warm. There’s a coffee and souvenir shop.
The caves are open from 1 April until 5 November. They are closed for lunch. Reservation required, see website
The Grottes d’Azé are in the Saône-et-Loire department of Burgundy near Cluny.
Places to visit nearby