P1060276 2Lascaux is the most famous of France’s painted caves. It was discovered in 1940 by teenagers out with their dog Robot, who fell down a hole. (The dog was fine). Since 1963 it has been closed to the public; the cave system had been enlarged to make it accessible to the public, but the paintings began to deteriorate after a ventilation system was installed and through sheer weight of visitors. So they made an exact replica, Lascaux 2, down to half a centimetre, they say. They dug out a new cave and installed a shell with the contours of the original, then reproduced the paintings on the walls, beautifully. Although you know it’s a fake, it’s a stunning experience (not to mention their achievement). I dawdle at the back of the group, quickly sketching the huge bulls horses and ibexes, but I can’t do it justice.

Back at the house I make a cave painting on the terrace using charcoal and mud, fuelled by Leffe and vin de Noix. It’s rubbish.

See the Lascaux website at http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/?lng=en#/fr/00.xml