Grotte de Niaux

Useful Information

Location: Niaux, département de l'Ariège. (1°35'26"E, 42°48'53"N)
Open: JUL-AUG daily 8:30, 11:30, 13:30, 14:15, 17, 17:15 SEP daily 10, 11:30, 13:30, 14:15, 15h, 15h45, 16h30, 17h15. OCT-JUN daily 11, 14:30, 16. [2006}
Fee: Adults 60 FF, Children 35 FF, Groups Adults 50 FF, Students 25 FF
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric.
Dimension: T=12°C, VR=417m, L=8000m, A=545m asl.
Guided tours:  
Address: Grotte de Niaux, F-09400 Tarascon s/ Ariège. Tel: +33-561058837, Fax: +33-561058837
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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12.000-9.000 b.C. cave paintings.
1908 human footprints discovered and examined by Abbé Breuil and Cartheilhac. Dated 12.000 years old.
1949 second group of footprints dicovered by a group of boyscouts called Clan Mauvisseau and the cave guide René Clastres.


The Cave of Niaux is located on the right banks of the Vicdessos river. It is world famous for its prehistoric cave paintings from the Magdalénien.

About 350 m from the cave entrance is a large rock with a vertical surface. This surface is covered with dots and short lines in red and black. That is the first glimpse of prehistoric art, a visitor of the cave sees.

But despite what guides tell about this painting, its meaning is still absolutely unknown. It is a good place for fantastic speculations. Some see dots as female symbols and lines as male symbols. Especially vertical lines are interpreted as male for obvious reasons. Similar explanations interprete bunches of dots as harem scenes and groups of lines as stack pile of Sarduanapal. Abbé Breuil saw a sort of map or maybe a public information display in this drawing.

Much more impressive and interesting is the art in the Black chamber. There are extraordinary drawings of horses and bisons.

The visits to the Grotte de Niaux are extremely restricted, to save the prehistoric cave paintings. There are only 11 visits per day of up to 20 people with 45 minutes between each group. There is one tour at 13:30 in English. It is absolutely necessary to make a reservation by phone.

Nearby, in Tarascon, the Parc de l'Art Préhistorique is located. It is usefull, to visit this site first, as it provides background information about caves, cave paintings and the Grotte de Niaux. This is expecially usefull for foreign visitors, as they have English explanations, what the cave does not!