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Report 1947: The Dordogne

By Winnick from Texas, Spring 2011

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Page 16 of 19: June 28 - Forte de Reignac, Grotte Rouffignac

photo by Mike Winnick

Forte de Reignac - The Great Room

After walking to the Petite Casino to buy dinner for tonight we headed out to Forte de Reignac, a fantastic visit. This was a fortress built high on the limestone cliffs, first used 17,000 years ago and then a fortress was built during the middle ages. The rooms were decorated with furniture from the 15th to 17th centuries and the English handout gave an excellent account of the history of the middle ages and the lives of the people that lived in the fortress.

At the end of the tour, there was a special exhibit on torture devices used during the middle ages. It is always astounding the ways humans could think of ways to torture other humans and makes you glad you did not live during those times. There was also a good explanation of how knights were brought up and their main purpose in life was to kill whether it be to protect his property, family or just for the hell of it.

We spent most of the morning here and then drove a short distance to Les Eyzies for lunch at a cafe called La Grinottiere.

After a leisurely lunch, we headed to another cave called Grotte Rouffignac.

All of the caves offer something different and interesting. This cave was about 1200 meters long and upon entering the cave, you take a small rickety train ride through the cave stopping along the way to view the walls with bear scratches, see where cave bears made their dens and view cave paintings. The final stop you get out of the train and see an amazing sight. The ceiling is covered in mammoths, ibex, horses, bison from 14,000 years ago. It is astounding to think that these Magdelenian people crawled through the caves with rudimentary lamps and painted these beautiful images on their backs. They could only see a small area, yet the animals were painted lifelike in many cases.

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