Musee Des MerveillesMusee Des Merveilles
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In the footsteps of early humans

Cro-Magnon graffiti, Neolithic pottery and Bronze Age art are just a few of the many traces left by early humans on our land. Prehistoric people left their mark throughout the Menton, Riviera & Merveilles area, from the French Riviera’s coast to the Mercantour foothills. All aboard an adventure to meet early humans!

Once upon a time,

in Prehistory…

Vallonnet Cave in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin is considered one of the oldest prehistoric sites in Europe and proves Homo Erectus was here 1 million years ago. Archaeologists have found wild animal fossils, lithic tools and uniform pebble structures here.

5000 years ago in a mineral sanctuary around Mont Bégo in the heart of Mercantour National Park, people carved their beliefs in Europe’s biggest cave art site!

A potted Prehistory:
  • 1 million years ago: Vallonet Cave in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin
  • 25,000 years ago: Grimaldi Caves
  • 10,000 years ago: Abri Pendimoun in Castellar
  • 5000 years ago: cave art in the Valley of Wonders in Tende

The Valley of Wonders,

mysterious cave paintings

Its 40,000 cave paintings from the Neolithic and Bronze Age make it one of the most exciting valleys in Mercantour National Park. The paintings were discovered in the late 19th century and are displayed on fantastic colourful rocks polished by glaciers. These 3BC blocks got the coastal farmers and shepherds’ creative juices flowing when they headed to the mountain pastures for summer. They painted all sorts of things: horned figures, weapons, anthropomorphic and geometric shapes. These paintings are believed to tie into Mont Bégo’s religious and sacred personality. But it’s all still a mystery…

Happily lost in translation...

The Valley of Wonders, or Vallée de Merveilles, is so-called because the Valle delle Meraviglie was mistranslated in Italian as Valley of Mysteries.

Around Mont Bégo,

a sprawling cave art site

There are around 100,000 cave paintings around Mont Bégo and the Rock of Wonders covering seven mountain valleys at an altitude of over 2000m. Six of the valleys are in France: Vallaureta, Valaque, Col du Sabion, Lake Saint-Marie and the most impressive ones are the Valley of Wonders and Fontanalba. Since most of the paintings are around Mont Bégo, in the Tende area, the assumption is that the mountain was sacred. It’s easier to reach these archaeological sites through the Roya Valley.