Cure Valley


Contact and Access

Office de Tourisme entre Cure et Yonne
Halte nautique de Bazarnes
Cidex 501
89460 Cravant
Tel +33 (0)3 86 81 54 26

Arcy-sur-Cure caves

The site of Arcy-sur-Cure is a very important Middle and Upper Paleolithic site in Northern France. It is situated south of the Paris basin, between Auxerre and Avallon.
It comprises a group of caverns hollowed out by the River Cure in a chalky, coral massif at the end of the Mesozoic era. The eleven prehistoric caves, the first of which was discovered 150 years ago, contained the remains of the past human occupants who had lived there continually for more than 200,000 years.

The red paintings, which are the most common, are divided into distinct sections with over one hundred and forty separate drawings including around 60 recognizable animal forms. The animal art - mainly mammoths (50%) - depicts animals rarely found in other decorated caves although they can be seen in similar numbers in the Chauvet cave in the Ardeche (bears, rhinoceroses, cats and birds).

Eight hand prints and a variety of signs (dots, wavy lines, wires, trapezoid shapes) complete the collection. Anthropic remains discovered in the prehistoric soil, buried under 30 centimetres of sterile deposits, were linked to the cave drawings (dyes and pestles) and lighting (hearths and lamps). Carbon dating tests, carried out on the carbonized remains, gave an age of between 28000 and 33000 BP,* making the large cave the oldest decorated cave in the world, after Chauvet.

Photo credits: La Varende collection

Contact details
Grottes d'Arcy-sur-Cure
Route Nationale 6
Tel +33 (0)3 86 81 90 63

Web site :

Picture of bear

Picture of mammoth

Underground scenery