An archaeological site and a museum of prehistory to visit in Charente Maritime

Discover prehistory otherwise ...
From May 1st to September 30th
An captivating walk throught the forest will plunge you into an authentic setting in the Bruant glacier valley.
















The course :

DIY tours

A stroll of about an hour leads you through a listed thousand-year-old forest to the prehistoric caves. Here prehistoric men settled down, such as Neanderthal man about 50 000 years ago. Big boards have been placed along the path which explains the geology of the domain and its occupancy since the Paleolithic ages. Some trees, plants and flowers are pointed out with small tags showing details as names and their uses in our everyday life. Along that path reconstructions of prehistoric camps have been placed. This was all the conception of Yves Olivet, our mourned prehistoric specialist, and baptized recently :

Préhistozen (from May to September)

Along the stream, Le Bruant, go back in time, during an one hour’s walk. This wander will make you travel in the prehistoric times on the estate of La Roche Courbon, through a untouched and preserved nature. You will discover reconstructions of different prehistoric camps: Homo erectus (Héhé’s camp), the caves of Neanderthal and Homo sapiens (Osapi and Ramého’s camps). Imagine yourself meeting up in the caves around the fire in the caves!

 In each camp, as well as the caves, informative boards present the evolution of the prehistoric men, since the arrival of Homo erectus until the Iron Age. You can as well read information about botanic.

Children can follow Ti’Silex, a small prehistoric man living on the estate, in his adventures. They can answer the questions of the quiz (in French) during their stroll on the PréhistoZen path.

Live a moment outside of time!

(careful: get some good shoes like hiking type)


Prehistoric Museum

The first floor "Henry de Lestrange room" offers an introduction to prehistory from 2 million years ago with Homo habilis until the Bronze Age.

A 20mn video relates the principal periods of prehistory and significant discoveries made on the estate of La Roche Courbon, which is one of the richest site in Charente-Maritime. Yves Olivet, ancient curator of the museum, gives his testimony about his knowledge and discovery of the limestone’s pieces unique in our area.

The second level, "Paul Chénereau room / Jacques Badois" is dedicated to the prehistory of Charente-Maritime, the municipality of Saint-Porchaire and the caves of the area as well as a permanent exhibition on the history of prehistory.



1- This area is known for its historic journey with the castle but also protohistory, with ancient walls, mounds or small graves of the Iron Age and a Merovingian cemetery of the early Middle Ages.

Two other burial caves have delivered us human bones dating from the Neolithic.

La Roche-Courbon is a major site of Charente Maritime, as small limestone blocks were discovered in the caves, unique artefacts of this kind in our region.

2- These figures represent the theoretical dates of these periods, the caves have not seen continuous occupation. The excavations' result is shown in the prehistoric museum.


3- The first excavations were carried out in 1880 by Eugene and Felix Lemarié Bossé, teachers in Saint-Porchaire. In 1924 Marcel Clouet, a teacher from Saintes, discovered three engraved limestone slabs : Two decorated with mammoth and another one with a horse head in duck bill shape. These pads are attributed to the Aurignacian or Gravettian times placing an age range between - 30,000 to - 19,000 years.

4- In 1939 Marcel Clouet search the cave known as "the castle", located in the rocky slab under the castle and discovers another prehistoric cave attributed to the Mousterian and Aurignacian.

In 1949 Paul Chénereau, the time owner, asks Marcel Clouet and Pierre Geay to create a prehistoric museum in the castle keep.

5- In 1956 and 1957 Pierre Geay, Robert and Camille Colle Gabet discover in Bouil-Blue cave a burial they attribute to the Aurignacian's period until 1995, when the owner Jacques Badois decided to make a radiometric carbon 14 which gave a result of 1870 years. We are in the presence of a Gallo-Roman skeleton.

6- In 2005 Yves Olivet and Thierry Le Roux discovered a new engraved slab in the Triangle cave. This limestone block is engraved with an equine head topped with triangles.

7- In 2008 the idea of restructuring the museum by Yves Olivet and Thierry Le Roux was borned. The work will be completed in 2012 with a team of volunteers and the association of friends: AMICOUR

8- In 2016 Yves Olivet designed the "Prehistory" path with the reconstruction of prehistoric camps with the help of volunteers and owners.
He will unfortunately die a few days before its inauguration.



The archaeological activities at Roche-Courbon

A necropolis of the early Middle Ages is on the field. DRAC (Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs) has given permission to a stripping campaign in 2011 and followed up.

Other works:

Cleaning of the graves of Iron Age

Cleaning of an ancient wall.

This work aims to present in the future, guided archaeological tour.

School groups

We offer school groups guided tours on the theme of prehistory.
You will discover the prehistoric museum whose renovation was completed in 2012.
Two rooms transport you to these glacial periods when our ancestors survived.
The first room is an educational room about the main stages of prehistory.
The second room is devoted to the prehistory of the Charente-Maritime.
picnic area on site.
La Roche-Courbon, is a an important site of Saintonge's prehistory with caves and caverns accessibles from the castle by a nice forest road. Throughout your journey, the boards  explain the formation of the caves and valley. Under the porch of the caves, other signs inform you about the different periods of occupation by our ancestors.
These activities are linked with the museum.

Useful information

For disabled

We suggest visiting the museum, karst course, caves, images, using a screen that will allow you to enjoy a guided tour.

For the blind

A turntable is available to you. It consists of 12 squares containing prehistoric tools. You will discover through touch these flint objects that prehistoric men have fashioned. The table is equipped with a Victor sound monitor that will give you the explanations of each box.

Contact us

Our secretary is reachable all year, Monday to Friday
from 9 :15am to 12:30am and 1:30pm to 6pm.
The reception is open daily from 9am to 7pm from 01/05 to 30/09 from 10am to 12 and from 2pm to 6pm at weekends in January, from 01/02 to 30/04 and from 01/10 to 31/12.

17250  Saint-Porchaire

Tél : 05 46 95 60 10

Fax : 05 46 95 65 22

Mail :


Get in touch


La Roche Courbon friends association

Come join us and participate in our many activities by joining the 260 members.

Registration allows you free access to the area throughout the year.

You can download your bulletin  here