#Interview : André Barbé, Semitour Périgord / Lascaux IV Managing Director

11 June 2021

Classified by UNESCO, the Lascaux cave is one of mankind’s most important archaeological discoveries. The International Parietal Art Centre in Montignac - Lascaux takes visitors on a sensory journey, as close as possible to our ancestors, combining the emotion of ancestral art with technological prowess. André Barbé, the Managing Director of Semitour, which manages the Lascaux cave as well as other cultural sites in Dordogne, tells us the history of the cave and presents the new features expected in 2021.

Can you tell us about the history of Lascaux IV?

In order to guarantee the preservation of the original Lascaux cave and to ensure its long-term survival, the Scientific Council in charge of the site recommended that the Lascaux hill be completely protected.

This recommendation led to the creation of Lascaux IV, below the hill, in the town of Montignac-Lascaux, in the heart of the Vézère Valley, registered as a “Grand Site de France”. This landscape-building, by architect Snohetta, looks very much like an incision in the rock. It is a sober, unobtrusive work, without elaborate shapes or material, from which a real power seems to emerge. The scenography, entrusted to design agency Casson Mann, was thought out in terms of the visitor’s experience and takes into account the adaptation of the venue and its history in space.

Thanks to the exceptional work of the “Atelier des Fac Similés du Périgord”, for the first time visitors have the opportunity, to discover the entire reproduction of the famous “Sistine Chapel of prehistory” during a guided tour with commentary by a mediator... but the experience does not stop there and continues via cutting-edge technology and outstanding scientific work: history of the discovery, cave art in the world and links with contemporary art...

The much-awaited reopening took place on May 19. Can you tell us about the health crisis’s impact and your expectations for this upcoming season? 

Lascaux - Centre International de l’art pariétal Lascaux - Centre International de l’art pariétal © SEMITOUR / CRTNA

We are happy to be able to do our job again, which is to open the doors of our heritage sites and welcome visitors, even if for the moment, we have to do so without groups, schoolchildren or foreign tourists.

We will have to rely on French tourists this season, but that is the clientele who enabled us to experience a very good season last year. Much to our pleasure, the French want to rediscover their country, and we expect the situation to be similar this summer. I am very optimistic. European tourists, especially Belgians, Germans and Dutch, who were already present last year, should also be here this year.

From a financial point of view, Semitour's health is stable. The recapitalization of 1 million euros at the end of last year was sufficient. The 2020 turnover has decreased by 40% compared to 2019, but the decrease in the result has been less.

What role do digital technology and digital equipment play in the visit?

At the beginning of the project, digital technology was at the heart of the visitor experience, even though maintaining human mediation during the discovery of the facsimile was essential to me.
Last year's crisis forced us to review the tour's schedule, with a stronger return of the human element in the mediation.... And that will also be the case this year, to the great pleasure of our visitors, I am sure. Last summer, our satisfaction ratings were much better with our guides than with the digital tablets, which were impossible to use for health reasons. Whatever happens, the human element will always be there. Digital technology will not return until 2022.

What can you tell us about your main clientele (pre-Covid) ?

The French clientele normally represents 80% of our overall clientele, with 20% of foreign clients, all origins combined.

The majority come from our European neighbours (UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Italy)... as well as customers from further destinations thanks to Lascaux 3D and to regular work carried out with the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Tourism Board (USA, Australia, Asia...) for travel agencies and tour operators.

What major features are to be expected? 

This year, the great novelty will be to offer an extraordinary prestige visit "from one cave to another" every evening this summer. Visitors will be invited to take a true trip back in time, for almost 2 hours, accompanied by their mediators to discover the reproduction of the cave in the dark with a LED torch, specially designed for this visit and continue their discovery in the temporary exhibition room in which they will wander through a contemporary "cave" created by artist Caroline Desnoëttes "Continuum"...

On Thursday evenings, guests will even be able to take advantage of an experience never before offered and thought out with the chef of Café Lascaux (owner of the hotel-restaurant Les Glycines in Les Eyzies), Pascal Lombard: a packaged evening during which we offer both a prestige visit, and an exceptional dinner based on prehistoric dishes!

Can you tell us about the other sites SEMITOUR runs?

Semitour Périgord is the leading tourist company in the Dordogne department.

For more than 20 years, the Dordogne Departmental Council has entrusted us with the operation of major cultural, accommodation and leisure sites under a Public Service Delegation.

In 2008, the company bought the “Atelier des Fac-similés du Périgord” in Montignac, a subsidiary whose mission is to manufacture facsimiles, cave art frescoes, scenography designs and related products.

Since February 2013, Semitour Périgord has been registered with the “Registre des Opérateurs de Voyages et de Séjours”.

Its aim is to place visitors at the centre of all projects, to boost the management of the sites through the professionalization of the reception, the quality of the tourist and cultural offer and economic profitability.

We are striving to maintain this success, to create a true territorial development dynamic and to continue to improve the visitor's experience through new tour combos adapted to all.

This year, we are enhancing what we have to offer once again with, among other projects: a new shop at Châteaux of Biron and Bourdeilles, a new generation of audio guides, the reorganization of our reception area at Grotte du Grand Roc and at Abris de Laugerie Basse as well as new enclosures at Parc du Thot, evening concerts "Les Villégiatures" at several of our sites for musical entertainment in exceptional locations, a virtual reality historical escape game at Château de Bourdeilles... the list goes on!

Useful information

Site web

Lascaux :

Parc du Thot :

Cloitre de Cadouin :

Château de Biron :

Rouffiac :

Château de Bourdeilles :



Contact information

Clémence DJOUDI

Head of Communication & Sales

Tél : +33(0)

Mail : c.djoudi@semitour.com