Les Eyzies

Overview

Introduction

Les Eyzies is an important destination for those interested in paleontology and Cro-Magnon cave paintings. The first cave paintings were discovered by accident in 1940 in the nearby caves at Lascaux, about 85 mi/135 km east of Bordeaux. Unfortunately, exposure to multitudes of visitors caused an alarming deterioration of the paintings—they can now be visited by special invitation only.

In response to public demand, the government created Lascaux II, a replica, using the same colors and techniques as the original and just a few hundred meters away from Lascaux. Don't be put off by the notion of viewing a copy: It is very well done, and the wonder of these beautiful and intriguing paintings comes across just as strongly. Tickets can be purchased right next to the tourist office in the village of Montignac between April and October. When purchasing tickets for Lascaux II, note that the ticket reserves the time when you will be allowed in with a small group. This can be several hours, or even days after your purchase, so be sure to know when you want to visit. Also visit the town's National Prehistory Museum for a good overview of prehistoric art.

The original cave paintings at Font-de-Gaume are open to the public, but you'll need to make reservations well in advance if you plan to visit during the summer rush, since the total number of visitors allowed per day is limited. There are more than a dozen other prehistoric caves open to the public, all with their own special attractions. Local tourist offices can provide the necessary details.

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