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We would like to visit the caves in Dordogne and see the wall paintings. We are travelling with small kids (5 years, 2.5 years and 3 months).

  1. I heard there is a very limited number of tickets to the sites. What is the best way to get the tickets (to make sure we get in)? Because we are with kids, standing in a queue from very early morning is out of the question.
  2. Which caves are the most interesting and possible to visit in our circumstances?
  3. Are the caves open every day of the week? We were thinking to go there on Monday 11th August.
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If you are thinking about Lascaux cave, you actually visit a replica of the cave, not the actual cave itself. But you really can't tell the difference.

At the tourist office in Montignac you can buy tickets in advance, though it is limited to just a day or two ahead. So you could go buy the tickets, while your family does something else, then head to the cave later that day or the next. But go early, especially in the summer as tickets sell out.

The caves are open daily most of the year, closed on Mondays during the winter.

  • What do you think is the chance of getting tickets? And what do you mean by "go early"? – Grzenio Aug 5 '14 at 16:26
  • It is hard to guess your chances, you are visiting during peak season, so there will be lots of tourists down there. If you are going to be in the area for a couple of days, I would go the morning of your first day there and see what is available for the days you will be there. I heard you can also call to book, but that was second hand information so can not be sure. – user13044 Aug 5 '14 at 16:53
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N.B. I'm reporting information found on the web in French, which looks broadly consistent and up-to-date. I've never visited these caves.

The Lascaux cave, or more precisely the partial replica Lascaux II that's open to the public, is open everyday during the summer period, and closed Mondays and for lunchtime outside the summer period. Check the web page for up-to-date information (grotte = cave, billetterie = ticket sales). In 2014:

  • From Apr 01 to Jul 04, the caves and ticket sales are open 9:30–18.
  • From Jul 05 to Aug 31, the caves and ticket sales are open 9–19.
  • From Sep 01 to Sep 14, the ticket sales are open 9:30–18.
  • From Sep 01 to Nov 02, the caves are open 9:30–12 and 14–18 everyday.
  • From Nov 03, the caves and ticket sales are open 10–12:30 and 14–17:30, and closed on Mondays (except during some school vacations).

Note that during the summer period (in 2014: Apr 12 to Sep 14), tickets must be bought in the Montignac town center, next to the visitors' center. During the winter period, ticket sales take place at the cave entrance and have the same opening times (except that sales close shortly before the start of the last visit).

During the high summer period only (in 2014: Jul 10 to Aug 20), you can buy tickets up to 4 days in advance in Montignac. There is no way to book tickets online. At that time, it is recommended to come later in the week (preferably on a Saturday) and to buy tickets early in the morning or in advance. If you arrive in the afternoon on a busy day, you might queue 2 hours for a ticket and wait a further 3 hours to enter the cave!

Visits are guided tours only, lasting 40 minutes. There are tours in English all year round, and other languages during high season.

You can also visit Le Thot, which is about 10km away and hosts a few reproductions of paintings that are not presented in Lascaux II.

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Not a direct answer to your question, but some food for thought. I visited Dordogne back when my kids were 4 and 2. The caves (I can't recall names off hand) were a bit of a disaster. The youngest especially got scared and also needed to "go potty" when we were 15 minutes inside. I think the tour guide brought everyone out early. Needless to say, I got some ugly looks from the other tourists. If I had to do it again, I'd probably take turns with the wife going in the caves without kids. If you're bound and determined, perhaps ask how long the tours are, how dark the caves are, and if you can get out quickly if need be.

My kids did very much enjoy all the castles and ruins in the region. They also enjoyed just walking through the countryside. All in all, we loved Dordogne.

Have fun!

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