A village in the Ardèche
gorges of south-eastern France, near the Rhone
. It is named for a spectacular natural rock bridge
, 66 m high, over the River Ardèche. The region is very suitable for kayaking
, with its many cave
On 18 December 1994 cave explorers led by Jean-Marie Chauvet stumbled on a system of Palaeolithic cave paintings, among the most important in the world, comparable with those of Lascaux. They are not polychrome but are in red ochre and black: huge numbers of very realistic animals of all kinds on the walls, as well as actual cave bear bones in the system, whom the Cro-Magnon artists might have shared their living space with. The caves are now known as La Grotte Chauvet, or Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc.
Carbon dating showed the paintings, at 31 000 years old, were the oldest cave paintings ever found, far older than the more complex Lascaux (13 000 years ago). This threw out existing theories of the development of art. The most common animal depicted is the rhinoceros.
for the French culture ministry's introduction to them.