I visited Grotte Pair-non-Pair last week with a National Geographic travel group. I knew about the cave and its Aurignacian era engravings but honestly did not think that the engravings would be very impressive. Wow was I wrong!
Pair-non-Pair is small, little more than a rock shelter but it contains a remarkable collection of engravings. Horses, aurochs, ibexes, mammoths, and a megaloceros are all engraved into the walls. There are faint remnants of red and black pigment on the engravings reminiscent of the Venus of Lassel. What is more remarkable is that the cave was also a living area. Fireplaces, stone tools, and discarded bones indicate that Pair-non-Pair was occupied for a period of 60,000 years. First occupants were undoubtedly Neanderthals beginning 80,000 years B.P. who were replaced by humans by the start of the Aurignacian 30,000 years B.P. Artwork in a Paleolithic living area is very rare.
The cave itself was found quite by accident in 1881 when a farmer went to recover a cow whos foot had become lodged in a hole in the pasture. Upon investigation, he found the chamber containing the engravings and called in archeologist François Daleau.