The earliest men left marvellous testimony to their presence here in Aquitaine and the region is certainly the richest in France for prehistory.
The most magnificent vestiges of the Palaeolithic era in France, if not in Europe, are concentrated along the Vézère valley in Perigord, also known as the "Valley of Mankind" and included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
400,000 years of human presence can be seen at around thirty sites that are as varied as they are close to each other. The Lascaux cave springs to mind first, of course, known as the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistory” for its exceptional polychrome paintings.
Although less famous, the site of La-Roque-Saint-Christophe with its cliff dwellings towering high above the waters of the Vézère, is nonetheless most impressive. And just a few metres from there is Le Moustier, where the bones of a Neanderthal man were discovered…
A fascinating world, especially for children who can choose from a selection of introductory workshops: wall paintings at Le Thot, near Lascaux , but also activities at the Garden of the Lady of Brassempouy, or cutting flints at the cave of Oxocelhaya.
Because the Dordogne is not the only département in Aquitaine to boast prehistoric treasures. In Gironde, the cave of Pair-non-Pair is entirely covered with horses, ibex and mammoths… In Chalosse, in the south of the Landes, the Lady of Brassempouy – the first sculpture of a human face dating back some 22,000 years– and other ivory sculptures are works of art like no other… In the Basque Country, near Hasparren, the cave of Isturitz was inhabited no less than 55,000 years ago…
As well as this profusion of sites, Aquitaine is home to the National Prehistory Museum, in Les Eyzies de Tayac-Sireuil in the Dordogne. Housed since July 2004 in a building signed by architect Jean-Pierre Buffi, it presents a collection of 18,000 items presented with the benefit of all the latest techniques. An enthralling visit for young and old alike.
:: La grotte de Lascaux
:: Lascaux II
:: Les Eyzies de Tayac-Sireuil
:: Le Musée National de Préhistoire
:: Village troglodytique de la Madeleine
Website : www.la-madeleine-perigord.com
:: Falaise troglodytique de la Roque-Saint-Christophe
:: Musée de Brassempouy
:: La grotte d'Isturitz