This is the only cave with polychrome paintings that is still open to the public. The first paintings in Font-de-Gaume were "discovered" in 1901, but more were found over the years as the cave was excavated. There are gorgeous paintings of animals that have a three-dimensional effect by using the natural contours of the cave wall. There are 230 figures in the cave, but only about 30 are shown on a tour. The paintings and engravings are thought to date to the last period of paleolithic art, the Magdalenian, about 16,000 years ago (the same as Lascaux). The paintings have faded a lot in recent years.
Since the cave is so fragile, access is limited to 78 people per day. Guided tours only, 13 people per tour. Tours are in French, with an English one in the morning and another in the afternoon. This is a popular cave so getting tickets takes some effort. You can NOT make a reservation!!
You must wait in line at the ticket office on the day you want to visit in order to get one of the remaining tickets. The ticket office opens at 9:30 and in the summer you should plan on being there at 7:00 or earlier to have the best chance for an early tour. May and September can still be busy, so you should probably be there 2 hours early if you're determined to get in. The cave is not as busy on Sundays. When I visited on a Sunday in September 2016, there were still places available at 9:30. In September 2015, I visited on a Wednesday and all the places were taken by 9:00. The rest of the year is quieter and some people just show up 5 minutes before opening and get in, but if you don't want to miss out, still plan on showing up a little early. Unless you're one of the first 13 people in line, you will have to come back later for your tour, because all the tickets for the day are sold at opening.
You can not save a place for someone in line, it is one ticket per person, and your whole party must wait with everyone else. If someone in your group can not wait in line you should make reservations. About 15 minutes before opening, the manager will come out and explain how ticketing works and pass out cards with your place number to everyone in line.
There is a steep walk to the cave from the ticket office, but the cave itself is not very big and the ground is level.
Open all year.
Address: 4 Avenue des grottes, 24620 Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France
Services: English tours, Free parking, gift shop, toilets at the cave entrance after a steep climb