Troglodyte Dwelling 55,000 Years Old
It’s important to remember when reading this that we said we’d come here and probably do NOTHING for the first month – what with retiring and being exhausted from the move and packing and all.
This is being written at the end of Week 2, and it hasn’t exactly worked out that way! Here we are off again to another famous tourist site in Southern France, La Roque Saint-Christophe.
Generally we have reserved some of our travels to the well-known sites for times when we have visitors, and JB’s sister, Elizabeth, is here. So today’s destination is La Roque Saint-Christophe, midway between the towns of Les Eyzies et Montignac (where the Lascaux caves and paintings are).
JB has been staying off his feet to relieve lingering symptoms of plantar fasciitis, and decided not to join us today, but Carol and Elizabeth drove up to La Roque Saint-Christophe (for detailed information you can see their website at http://www.roque-st-christophe.com/ (see clickable link at the bottom).
It’s about 50km north on windy roads, which works out to about an hour’s drive. On the road along the way, there are so many beautiful sights it is hard to describe.
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There are many different kinds of cows. Our recollection is that in the United States cows are often in muddy fields, sometimes in stock yards. Here we have seen none of that. The cows are all out in green pastures. We wish all the cows we see in Southern California dairies could look as happy as these cows look.
If you have ever been to Mesa Verde and loved that, you’d really get a kick out of La Roque Saint-Christophe. These cliff dwellings have been more or less continuously occupied for the last (ready?) 55,000 years.
Not only did Cro-Magnon people live here in the caves along and under the cliff, but over time, inhabitants through the ages actually built houses here – in the slits in the rocks and sticking out from the sides of the cliffs. It’s pretty remarkable.
We walked through the whole thing with a simple self-guide pamphlet that tells you what you’re seeing.
The word “troglodyte” starts popping up as you visit prehistoric sites in France. There are a lot of cave dwellings and buildings in the side of cliffs, and grottos, which are underground caves with exotic calcium deposits on the walls, floors and ceilings.
We used to think of “troglodytes” as either the name of a rock group or perhaps just prehistoric earlier forms of man. But actually the word means “cave dweller”. So when you see a sign along the road in France that says “Troglodyte Site” or the like, it means there is some cave dwelling to see.
La Roque Staint-Christophe is one of the most famous troglodyte sties in France. Actually, as I update this blog post now, I can note that we have already visited the site 4 times and will probably be back again later. Each time we visit enjoy some new aspect of the site. And it is actually a very nice energetic walk along the cave area.
This is a long view of just one of the levels where people lived and the view to the valley and river below. They do a nice job of highlighting things, like this “cabinet” carved in the stone wall, by placing beside it a picture of what it might have looked like thousands of years ago.
Here is an example of a rebuilt section of what the site would have looked like in more recent times, and a model, showing the various levels when buildings existed there.
The site features re-creations of many of the lifts and cranes that were used to move animals, equipment, food, etc up and down the cliff face. In this large one, 2 men walked on the inside of the wheel to power it to pull the rope that is suspended over the ledge.
Just up the road is another site (which we did not visit this time), with the medieval buildings in place. These buildings are actually furnished with period pieces… Oh well, next time.
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On a completely different note, we drove home through the town of Sarlat – where we did a brief tour–just passing through this time–of the old medieval city. We managed to find a shop that sold superb light macaroons. Look at the wonderful flavors we selected for our custom box!
After a wonderful long day at La Roque Saint-Christophe, we stayed home the next day and relaxed. Elizabeth left for Avignon, but first she had to have one last picture with Louie and Rosie!
Here is a link to La Roque Saint-Christophe (click here) website.
Carol and JB
Updated May 16, 2013 by JB Leep (Google Profile)
Original date Mon, October 8, 2013, La Roque Saint-Christophe, JB Leep and Carol Martin