Grottes de Cougnac, Gourdon | Perigord Retreats Painting Holidays
Grottes de Cougnac, Gourdon

This Monday was another “Férié” – a bank holiday and so we had some time to spare. The weather was typically spring-like; frequent showers with blazing sunshine in between! Luckily, where we were headed, the weather was irrelevant. We went to the Grottes de Cougnac.

The “Grottes de Cougnac” are actually two very large caves located only 12 minutes from Perigord Retreats. They are both prehistoric caves but interestingly were only recently rediscovered in 1949 and 1952. One of the caves actually has an old farm house built right on top of it. They had used the opening of the cave as a wine cellar for generations without anybody discovering the HUGE cave behind it. Pretty ironic if you ask me!

Stalactites & Stalagmites, Grottes de Cougnac

There are incredible natural arrangements of stalactites and stalagmites, with the cave burrowing over 200 yards through the ground. These stalagmites and stalactites are formed by water running through the cave ceiling and forming the stalactites by transporting calcite in the body of water. This is then deposited as it runs down the length of the stalactite and to the floor. Over time, the deposited calcite lengthens the stalactite at a rate of around 10cm every thousand years. When you see some of these already over 7 feet long you’ll really understand how old these caves are!

The other cave is even more incredible. Behind the old wine cellar, you follow a small pathway leading you into 3 different atrium-like spaces, 2 of which contain genuine cave paintings over 30,000 years old.  Depicted are some very interesting drawings of different hunted animals such as Megaceros (a deer species with antlers over 6 feet each side!) and ibex (a beautiful mountain goat-like animal).

We try to take all of our guests at Perigord Retreats to the Grottes de Cougnac. Sometimes it is a single excursion taking around 2.5 hours including travel or as part of a larger excursion incorporating other locations such as Sarlat-la-Canèda.

Huge calcite deposits on the ground over 20,000 years old

Calcite deposits forming stalactites and stalagmites

We feel as though it is important to experience the history and culture of this region of France, as well as paint/draw/photograph to your heart’s content.