The prehistoric men of Mas d’Azil gave birth to a culture which bears the name of the Ariège village - ‘Azilian’. This period of prehistory, which is mentioned in all books and encyclopaedias, guarantees the fame of the cave. From the dawn of time to the Wars of Religion, Mas d’Azil has been a place of refuge whose history is recounted in a ‘son et lumière’ show in the natural theatre at the heart of the cave.
Don’t miss the Musée de la Préhistoire, 800m from the cave, in the centre of the village. This museum illustrates the modernism and expertise of the cave dwellers through remains which have been found there, some of which are great technical and artistic achievements. Its priceless collection of remarkable items includes famous Azilian pebbles !
Among the most famous exhibits at the museum is the celebrated decorated spear thrower named the « Faon aux oiseaux (fawn with birds) », considered to be a masterpiece of Palaeolithic art. Other highlights of the visit are the Magdalenian skull, the only human bone found in the cave, displayed alongside its scientific reconstitution and the display devoted to Azilian man, his microliths (small tools) and the painted pebbles which are so characteristic of Mas-d’Azil.
The museum is spread over three floors. The ground floor houses temporary exhibitions. The first floor has two rooms, the first with magnificent collections of prehistoric objects found in the cave : weapons, tools and beautifully engraved, carved, decorated objets d’art including the famous ‘Faon aux oiseaux’. The second room is devoted to the Azilian civilization and the celebrated painted pebbles. The second floor has replicas of the galleries featuring prehistoric paintings and engravings in parts of the cave which are not open to the public.
Useful information :
Information and bookings, ring 05 61 05 50 40. Guided tours. The cave is open all year round. Free car park, picnic area. Not suitable for visitors with reduced mobility. Animals not admitted. Situated about 1 hour from Toulouse via A66 and 1 hour from Carcassonne.
Continue your exploration of prehistoric Ariège with a visit to the Grotte de Niaux