400,000 years of history

Unique prehistoric caves in the north-west of France.

  • Vue aérienne du canyon de Saulges

    Vue aérienne du canyon de Saulges

    © Photo : Prisma

  • Grottes de Saulges

    Grottes de Saulges

    © Photo : Clément Guillaume

  • Passage à gué sur la rivière l'Erve

    Passage à gué sur la rivière l'Erve

    © Photo : Dominique Vernier

  • Fouilles archéologiques dans les grottes de Saulges

    Fouilles archéologiques dans les grottes de Saulges

    © Photo : Grottes de Saulges

  • Entrées de grotte à Saulges

    Entrées de grotte à Saulges

    © Photo : Dominique Vernier

  • Aurochs introduits sur le site de Saulges

    Aurochs introduits sur le site de Saulges

    © Photo : Grottes de Saulges

  • Moutons noirs d'Ouessant introduits sur le site de Saulges

    Moutons noirs d'Ouessant introduits sur le site de Saulges

    © Photo : Grottes de Saulges

  • Grottes de Saulges - Grotte à Margot

    Grottes de Saulges - Grotte à Margot

    © Photo : Grottes de Saulges

  • point de vue sur le canyon de Saulges

    point de vue sur le canyon de Saulges

    © Photo : Mayenne Tourisme

An outstanding natural site
Saulges has an astounding piece of natural heritage to offer the visitor.
The river Erve has hollowed out a canyon that is typical of limestone strata. The rocks are criss-crossed by crevices through which rainwater drains away, causing certain types of erosion and caves.
This creates a kind of natural landscape that is very similar to the limestone plateaus to be found in the southern part of the Massif Central.
The vegetation that has grown up here is unusual for western France, being made up of moorland and dry grassland, boxwood and juniper bushes.
These features enabled the site to be registered as part of the 'Natura 2000'  network.

A network of caves
To date, some twenty caves have been identified in the sides of this enclosed valley, including one decorated grotto (Mayenne-Sciences) which is not open to the public.
Only two caves are accessible to the public (except in winter):
- Margot’s Cave  which runs horizontally for about 320 metres
- The Rochefort Cave  which has a chasm about 15 metres deep
Margot’s Cave is also famous as a home to bats during winter.
The most interesting recent archaeological finds have been taking place in the Rochefort Cave.

Archaeological excavations
Many finds have provided evidence of human presence since the Upper and Mid-Palaeolithic (from 300,000 to 10,000 BC)
Archaeologists have unearthed many prehistoric relics in the Rochefort Caves.
Among them are an engraved tablet of schistose stone on which is painted an ibex, a human bone from the Solutrean period and remains of animals, including fallow deer, horse, and sabre-toothed tiger.
Recently, the discovery of two human teeth may add to the scientific interest of the Saulges site because of their antiquity (perhaps as much as 500,000 years old!)

A lively site
Many activities based on prehistory are scheduled during the summer season.
For the more active, rock-climbing routes have been developed on the cliffs (150 routes you can access).
From the canyon you can reach Saulges, a small town of character petite cité de caractèr), by following a footpath.
Perhaps that’s where you’ll come across the Ouessant black sheep and the aurochs that have been introduced to the site!

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