AIA Tours: land

Decorated Caves of the Pyrenees & the Rhone Valley

Tour Dates: In the planning stages May 21-31, 2020 (11 days)

Tour Leader(s): Ian Tattersall ,

This tour is in the planning stages. To be added to the list that will notified first, please contact us at 800-748-6262 or email aia@studytours.org.

Discover with acclaimed paleoanthropologist and popular trip leader Ian Tattersall a collection of magnificent but largely unheralded examples of Ice Age art. Admire unusual, elegant bas-relief animal images in Basque caves, a profusion of hand prints at Gargas, and the famous panels of line-drawn and subtly shaded bison, horse, and ibex at Niaux. The trip concludes with a visit to the newly-opened Chauvet cave replica at Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, which expertly re-creates the earliest, and perhaps most impressive, of the many masterpieces of Ice Age art dated to some 35,000 years ago. Enjoy fine food and delightful accommodations while an expert trip manager handles all the logistics.

 


Tour Pricing per person:
Double Occupancy (15-20 participants) $TBA
Double Occupancy (12-14 participants) $TBA
Single Supplement $TBA

Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required (limited availability). With fewer than 12 particpants, a small group surcharge may be added.

 


Paintings of bison from the Salon Noir of Niaux cave. ©HTO

AIA lecturer/host Ian Tattersall (left) stands with Professor Henry de Lumley, excavator of the Arago cave and founder of the Tautavel museum, who is displaying the Arago 21 skull to AIA travelers during an unscheduled visit to the museum’s strong room in 2018. © Karen Raab

The entrance to Isturitz cave. © Krijun.

The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. © Nicolas Vigier.

The Ekainberri panel of horses, Spain. © Zaidiak.

Tautavel Man is a proposed subspecies of the hominid Homo erectus. Image © Rémih.

Painting of a Rhinoceros in the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave, France. © Inocybe

A charcoal drawing from Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave, France. © Claude Valette

Itinerary


Thursday, May 21, 2020: Home | Bilbao, Spain
Friday, May 22: Bilbao | Welcome dinner
Saturday, May 23: Covalanas | Ramales | El Pendo | Bilbao
Sunday, May 24: Ekainberri | San Sebastian | Ainhoa, France
Monday, May 25: Isturitz and Oxocelhaya | Bayonne | Ainhoa
Tuesday, May 26: Gargas | Tarascon-sur-Ariège
Wednesday, May 27: Niaux | La Vache | Tarascon-sur-Ariège
Thursday, May 28: Parc de la Prehistoire | Château de Foix | Tarascon-sur-Ariège
Friday, May 29: Tarascon-sur-Ariège | Arago | Tautavel | Montpellier
Saturday, May 30: Montpellier | Vallon-Pont-d’Arc Cavern | Lyon | Farewell dinner
Sunday, May 31: Lyon | Home

 

View Detailed Itinerary

Thursday, May 21, 2020: Home | Bilbao, Spain
Depart home on independent flights to Bilbao, Spain.

Friday, May 22: Bilbao | Welcome dinner
Transfer from the Bilbao airport (BIO) to the Gran Hotel Domine, situated in the heart of this thriving city. This afternoon, admire both the architecture and the permanent collection of the spectacular Guggenheim Museum during a guided tour. Gather later at the hotel for a welcome drink and dinner. Overnight at the 5-star Gran Hotel Domine for two nights. (D)

Saturday, May 23: Covalanas | Ramales | El Pendo | Bilbao
After breakfast, drive to Covalanas cave with its extraordinary collection of animal images. After an independent lunch in nearby Ramales, continue to El Pendo cave with its nearly nine-meter-long panel of painted figures. Dinner is at leisure in Bilbao. (B)

Sunday, May 24: Ekainberri | San Sebastian | Ainhoa, France
Check out of our hotel and head northeast towards France, stopping first at the Ekainberri replica and its famous panels of horses, the originals dating from the Magdalenian period. Continue to the elegant Basque city of San Sebastian, situated on the Bay of Biscay. Enjoy a guided tour of the town and savor an independent lunch before moving on to Ainhoa. Gather in the evening for dinner. Overnight at the 3-star Hotel Ithurria for two nights. (B,D)

Monday, May 25: Isturitz and Oxocelhaya | Bayonne | Ainhoa
This morning, visit the caves of Isturitz and Oxocelhaya with their bas-relief sculptures and concretions. Stop for an independent lunch and some free time in the lovely city of Bayonne (famous for its cathedral, as well as the ham and chocolate that it produces). Return to our hotel in Ainhoa, where the balance of the day is at leisure. (B,D)

Tuesday, May 26: Gargas | Tarascon-sur-Ariège
Check out of our hotel and drive to Gargas cave, one of the finest in the Pyrenees and known for its collection of more than 200 stenciled hand prints, many of which are mysteriously incomplete. After a group lunch in Gargas, drive to Le Manoir d’Agnes, a 200-year-old French chateau in Tarascon-sur-Ariège. Gather for dinner in the restaurant next to our hotel. Overnight at the 3-star Le Manoir d’Agnes for three nights. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, May 27: Niaux | La Vache | Tarascon-sur-Ariège
This morning, drive a short distance to the cave of Niaux, regarded as one of the most impressive in Europe for its spectacular and well-preserved wall paintings from 14,000 years ago, most of which are found in its “Salon Noir,” situated some 800 meters from the cave entrance. After a group lunch in the village of Niaux, visit the small cave of La Vache, plausibly where the Niaux artists lived, and known as one of the Pyrenees’ richest Magdalenian sites in terms of artifacts and engravings on bone and stone plaques, including representations of bear, lion, salmon, and more. Return to Tarascon-sur-Ariège for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

Thursday, May 28: Parc de la Prehistoire | Château de Foix | Tarascon-sur-Ariège
After breakfast, visit the Parc de la Préhistoire for an overview of the area’s prehistory through its museum and numerous reconstructions and demonstrations. Later, we continue on to the medieval town of Foix for a group lunch and a visit to its imposing Cathar castle and museum. Return to Tarascon-sur-Ariège for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

Friday, May 29: Tarascon-sur-Ariège | Arago | Tautavel | Montpellier
Check out of our hotel and drive to Arago cave, situated just outside the village of Tautavel and famous for the discovery of “Tautavel Man,” some of the most significant hominid remains ever found in Europe. After an independent lunch and, time permitting, a quick tasting of the local wine, visit the small but impressive museum in Tautavel before driving on to Montpellier. Dinner this evening is at leisure. Overnight at the 4-star Pullman Montpellier Centre Hotel for one night. (B)

Saturday, May 30: Montpellier | Vallon-Pont-d’Arc Cavern | Lyon | Farewell dinner
After checking out of our hotel, drive north to what may be the highlight of the journey: the recently opened and spectacular replica of Chauvet cave, Pont-d’Arc Cavern, including a reproduction of its delicately shaded horses. Chauvet is one of the most famous decorated caves in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. After an independent lunch on site, drive to Lyon. Gather together for a farewell dinner this evening. Overnight at the 5-star Le Royal Hotel Lyon for one night. (B,D)

Sunday, May 31: Lyon | Home
Transfer this morning to the Lyon airport (LYS) for flights home. (B)

Forms



For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884).

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