For sale: Two French Unesco heritage sites. Full history. Price €2m+

The prehistoric sites are both based in the Dordogne

Jean-Max Touran has owned the cro-magnon shelter in Dordogne since 2011
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Two Unesco World Heritage sites in France have been put up for sale.

Dating from the prehistoric era, both are located in the Dordogne. One is the Grotte de Sorcier cave and the other a cro-magnon (a prehistoric group of humans who settled in Europe) shelter.

Current owner Jean-Max Touron says he is putting the sites up for sale “reluctantly,” and is only letting them go because he no longer has the “energy” to keep them in the condition they deserve.

He is somewhat of a collector of ancient sites, having at least 14 in his portfolio. But keeping them all intact is now too demanding.

The two sites are tourist attractions that see around 20,000 visitors per year and Mr Touron wants the sites to stay open for the public to view. Hence he is looking for a buyer keen to “protect the heritage” of the locations.

Sites have ‘eternal value’

Although the €2 million price tag may seem steep, the sites are of immense importance, and showcase some of the most valuable displays of prehistoric artwork anywhere in the world.

The Sorcier cave includes a number of wall paintings that tourists flock to see from around the world.

“On the walls, you can see animals such as horses and bison, geometric signs and above all three human representations, which is very rare,” said Mr Touron.

And the impressive cave system may even be outshined by the cro-magnon shelter – it was the first site of a cro-magnon burial ever discovered, and is “the cradle of our species,” says the owner, with some of the fossils discovered at the site dating back more than 30,000 years.

Due to the historic significance of the sites, Mr Touron wants to make sure any buyer will continue to preserve the sites, as well as keep them open for the public to view and learn from.

Aside from the buyer being ideally French, he is considering selling them either to the national or local government.

The local Dordogne prefecture has declared an interest in the sites, with a potential purchase coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of the Natural Museum of Prehistory in the department.

The estate agent in charge of the sale, Guillaume Denniel, says he will respect the wishes of the current owner, but knows it will not be easy to make this unique sale.

“You don't sell two historic sites listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites like a conventional house,” he said to Ouest France.

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