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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week(end) Trip

I don't work Thursdays or Fridays, but I do have to work Saturday mornings.  This week, as a way to celebrate our anniversary (a few weeks ago) David and I decided to exploit my schedule and take a little mid-week trip.

I had been anxious to go see the cave paintings in a near-by town because I was certain they would close the site to the public before I got a chance to see them.  And what is more romantic than hiking around a dark, damp cave staring at cryptic sketches of bison?  Wednesday after work David came and picked me up in a rental car (a Twingo! Yay!) and we headed to Foix, where we would be staying for two nights.  The weather was sunny, we had a beautiful view of the Pyrénées right ahead of us as we headed south and we were feeling adventurous enough to not take the toll road.  

Thursday was the big day to see the cave paintings; I had had to make a reservation to see them on a guided tour.  For conservation reasons, they can only allow a few groups of a certain size in every day.  The guide explained that the Grotte de Niaux, the cave we were at, was one of the four important decorated caves in Europe.  There was also one in Spain, the cave of Lascaux, and another cave in France.  The Grotte de Niaux is the only one still open to the public.  

The tour lasted about two hours as we progressed deeper and deeper into these long, craggy rooms.  Our guide was so informative I wished that I could have stopped to take notes.  At one point, I was feeling out of breath for an extended period of time and I couldn't tell if it was from the atmosphere of the cave or if I was just really excited.  

After hiking along the slippery, sediment-covered cave floor with just our flashlights piercing the total blackness around us, we finally got to Le Salon Noir, the cave with the bulk of the paintings.  They were truly marvelous.  They were much more realistic than I had pictured, and the guide noted that these were clearly done by painters who were practiced and particularly talented.  One of the bigger pictures of a bison, the guide mentioned, had traces under the paint indicating that the artist had made a preliminary sketch before starting in with pigment.  The oldest paintings in the cave date from 12,000 BC.
 After the tour we emerged into the-what then felt like-excessive heat and light of the day to head to the Parc de la Préhistoire.  This was a park and small museum that was mostly dedicated to outdoor demonstrations of aspects of prehistoric life in the area.  We really just wanted a place to enjoy our picnic lunch outdoors, and the grounds had nice fountains and water-features.  

Then we walked around Foix and fell totally under its charm. 


Maureen said...


wem said...

Thanks! We had so much fun! And David got to drive around which he loves!

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