Préhistorama Châtelperron

Useful Information

Location: La Gare, 03220 Châtelperron.
(46.402530, 3.635175)
Open: JAN to MAR Wed-Sun 14-17.
APR to SEP Mon, Wed-Sat 10-12, 14-18, Sun, Hol 14-18.
OCT to DEC Wed-Sun 14-17.
Closed 01-MAY, 15-AUG, 19-DEC to 31-DEC.
Fee: Adults EUR 4, Children (6-16) EUR 2, Children (0-5) free, Students (-26) EUR 2.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 3, Children (6-16) EUR 2.50.
Classification: SubterraneaCave and Karst Museums
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Préhistorama Châtelperron, La Gare, 03220 Châtelperron, Tel: +33-470-34-84-51. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1840 La Grotte des Fées discovered during the construction of the railroad.
1867-1872 excavated by Doctor Guillaume-Joseph Bailleau.
20-MAY-1949 Grotte des Fées listed as a historical monument.
1951 excavations by the prehistorian Henri Delporte.


The Préhistorama Châtelperron is located in the small hamlet Châtelperron because of a prehistoric cave nearby named La Grotte des Fées. It was excavated in the 19th century and revealed the remains of Neanderthals who lived there between 42,000 and 33,000 years ago. The most famous discovery was the pointe de Châtelperron (Châtelperron point) or couteau de Châtelperron (Châtelperron knife). This is not a single item, it is a new technology, a new way to create tools from flint, which was most likely invented here. The remains discovered here were new to the scientists and so this prehistoric culture was named after the location the Châtelperronian, which marks beginning of the Upper Paleolithic.

The whole story is related to the railroad. During the construction of the railroad line from the coalfield of Bert-Montcombroux to the port of Dompierre-sur-Besbre, stone tools were discovered. At first only a few bone tools, and later numerous flints. Albert Poirrier, who was directing the construction of the railway, became curious and removed the layers that lay in front of the entrance. He collected bones and tools made of flint and bone. By the way, the museum Préhistorama is located in the abandoned train station of Châtelperron. The building also houses the restaurant La Grotte aux Fées. The railroad tracks are long gone, so is the coal mine.

Doctor Guillaume-Joseph Bailleau excavated the site from 1867 to 1872. He found three caves which contained a large number of tools. He also discovered a more than 2 m long mammoth tusk. His finds, several hundred tools, became famous and were sent to the British Museum in London, the National Archeology Museum of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the Institute of Human Paleontology in Paris and the Anne-de-Beaujeu Museum in Moulins. The next excavation was carried out by the prehistorian Henri Delporte in 1951. His findings are stored at the National Archaeological Museum. Today one of the caves is destroyed and the other two are closed. They are protected by law, and also located on private property, so it is not possible to visit them.

It contains an exhibition of flint tools, primarily the famous knifes, and other items. It also has several dioramas which show the daily life of the Neanderthals. However, in our opinion it is bad style to steal the name of the original Préhistorama.