Saturday, 10 March 2012

Roche de Solutré

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in the month and this is when lots of museums are free or have reduced entry fees. One museum in particular we have wanted to go to for ages is the Museum of Prehistory at the base of Roche de Solutré. The temptation of a free visit has kept us from going during the week and for whatever reason we have never managed a first Sunday in the month until this weekend.

The rock never ceases to impress me, as you stand at the base looking up. Since our last visit, they have built a nice new car park, even though it is a bit difficult to get in and out of and to be honest it is nowhere near big enough.

When we entered the museum, we were given a audio guide device, which you can have in any language. We really like these gadgets as they allow you to get in-depth information about the exhibits at your own pace. On this occasion, the English voice was a female non-native speaker who stumbled over a lot of words, and words like Palaeolithic and Neanderthal caused serious problems, which is not too clever when those are the sort of words used rather a lot in a museum of prehistory. Another very annoying thing, is that the everything in the museum is laid out right to left so 2,000,000 BC is on the right and 1,000 BC is on the left, it took me ages to match the commentary to the exhibits, it just shows how pre-programmed we all are at reading everything from left to right.

The museum continued outside, quite why I am not sure, as there was nothing in the commentary that had to be said outside. The dreadfully small steps (shorter than the length of my huge size 2 ½ shoes) that undulate up and down outside did not help our mood or enjoyment of the views, constantly having to watch our feet so that we didn’t fall over.

Back inside and I had given up on the irritating woman doing the commentary and I went to play in the kids’ section, which was actually fun and interesting.

Overall, I am glad it was free, but to me the whole thing was a missed opportunity, far too much boring detail on what is actually a very interesting subject. Our mood dampened by the cool and cloudy weather and the uninspiring museum, we put off the walk to the top of the rock and went back to the car.

As we walked along, we were greeted by a paraglider who was swooping over the rock. We had more fun watching him zipping back and forth, catching the thermals, than in the whole of the museum. We went to retrieve our car, as he landed nearby. Having seen signs to a different car park, we decided to have a look at it. This second car park is much bigger and nicer and has a stunning panorama over the area and it is only 200 metres further away from the rock. It made me laugh that all these visitors preferred to park on the side of the road, half in ditches, or in the cramped car park, rather than walk the extra few metres, when the whole reason they had come here was to walk to the top of the rock !

The paraglider had actually landed in this second car park and as I took a photo of the magnificent view of Roche de Solutré and Roche de Vergisson, he was packing up his kit in the foreground.

Next time we come, we will choose a sunny day, we will avoid the museum and we will climb the rock.

La Tuilerie Website

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