“Dad, this is so much better than Musée d’Orsay”, said Rachel. Ella and Sarah with devilish smiles instantly agreed. After writing this sentence, I asked who said it was the best? In unison, each one said, “I did.”
It was a rainy afternoon and we were clearly where the action was. One of the big surprises was the horde of people loaded down with candy emerging from the boutique . Each family had enough candy to easily fill up a paper grocery sack. The parents and kids coming out of the boutique seemed happy with their haul.
I could not believe that we paid an entry fee for both adults and kids to go to the Haribo’s Musée du Bonbon. Unlike some of the world-class museums we had visited, the kids took time to read the panels, read the English subtitles on the videos, and take their time passing through the various displays. They emoted a lot of positive affect.
Earlier in the day we went to Lascaux II. Marcia and I thought the girls would be intrigued with the cave paintings. The contrast with the Musée du Bonbon was stark. The cave tour was something I had looked forward to for almost a year. I viewed the videos at http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/?lng=en#/fr/00.xml , several times prior to leaving for Paris. Given that location is off the beaten path in a mountainous area about two hours north of the Mediterranean coast, I was surprised to see a large parking lot that was full of cars with many groups of four or five people heading to the entrance. There were many parking spaces for tour buses, but we arrived at 9:30 and beat the tour buses that were scheduled to arrive at 10:00.
Lascaux II had the feel of going to Disneyland. It was my understanding that we would be in a cave near the original in which artists had recreated the scenes. My expectation was that it would be in a real cave environment. Upon entering Lascaux II, I had my doubts as the authenticity of the cave. Some of it looked real but the stalagmites did not drip and pools of water reflected like plastic. The audio guide was good as it introduced the primitive hand art first. At times I saw each kid listening to the audio. The raised path snaked around the cave. We were in a group of 25-30. When we first entered the cave there were two other groups of comparable size that we could see at stations ahead. The live guides were presenting in French. Our audio was in English. At a given station, the live guide would be using a laser point to draw attention of a feature while the English audio would be describing the features in a different order. The best part of the cavern was the reproductions of the cave art. The quality of the Palaeolithic cave painting reproductions was impressive. That people who populated the area 20,000 years ago produced scenes with such accuracy is awe inspiring.
The Bradford Foundation includes the following text about the original Lascaux cave.
The cave contains nearly 2,000 figures, which can be grouped into three main categories – animals, human figures and abstract signs. Most of the major images have been painted onto the walls using mineral pigments although some designs have also been incised into the stone. Of the animals, equines predominate . There are 90 paintings of stags. Also represented are cattle, bison, felines, a bird, a bear, a rhinoceros, and a human. Among the most famous images are four huge, black bulls or aurochs in the Hall of the Bulls. One of the bulls is 17 feet (5.2 m) long – the largest animal discovered so far in cave art.