If you are ever near Macon in the French region of Burgundy, it is well worth visiting the impressive caves near the village of Azé.
The caves have seven entrances, two of which are open to the public. One of these is a prehistoric cave which has been inhabited on and off for around 300,000 years by people and by large animals such as bears and cave lions.
The site first attracted archaeologists in the 1920’s and was regularly excavated from 1950. This resulted in many finds – bones of bears, red deer and reindeers, and tools. Archaeological research also uncovered Gallo-Roman remains and a medieval wall. Some of the Azé finds, and also others from caves in nearby Blanot, can be seen in a small museum which you visit before entering the caves. Palaeontological research was carried out in 1982 and 1985. The site has been preserved as it appeared after the last excavations were completed.
Beneath the prehistoric cave is another cave with an underground river. As a result of explorations in 1963, followed by pumping out some of the water, it is now possible to walk more than 400 metres into the cave. This brings you face to face with an amazing number of geological features, including fossil deposits. This cave has never been inhabited.
You can find more information in French and English at: http://www.grottes-aze71.fr/