Classified Prehistoric Sites

The prehistoric sites in the Vézère Valley are concentrated in an area of 30 by 40 kilometers. These rocky foothills are home to caves (Lascaux, Font de Gaume, Combarelles ...), mainly dedicated to artistic expression, and habitat sites (le Moustier, la Madeleine ...) whose names became anthropological terms for periods and cultures of these eras, references in chronological dating of the evolution of prehistoric civilizations.

Please note that visits to the sites are done with a guide, and it is recommended that visitors plan and/or reserve visits in advance before heading to the sites. Some sites, like the exceptional Font de Gaume cave, are limited in number of visitors. Outside of the peak season, opening times may vary.

Warning about visiting certain classified sites in the town of Les Eyzies de Tayac Sireuil 

The following sites (all classified National Monuments) can only be visited in two ways: either by booking one month in advance by email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or by going directly on days of the guided tours.
Full price / reduced price: €7.50 / €6.50. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (under 18 for non-EU citizens)
Abri de Laugerie-Haute 
: guided tours every Monday in English at 10 a.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the front desk of the Font-de-Gaume cave.
Abri du Poisson : guided tours every Monday in English at 11:30 a.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the front desk of the Font-de-Gaume cave.
Gisement de La Micoque : guided tours every Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the front desk of the Font-de-Gaume cave.
Gisement du Moustier : guided tours every Thursday at 10 a.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the front desk of the Font-de-Gaume cave.
Gisement de la Ferrassie (not classified as a World Heritage site): guided tours every Monday in English at 2:30 p.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the front desk of the Font-de-Gaume cave.

South of Les Eyzies

South of Les Eyzies de Tayac Sireuil (Road D706)


Grotte de la Mouthe

In the immediate vicinity of Les Eyzies. Discovered in 1894, it is decorated with more than 200 engravings and paintings of animals, and two painted hands dating from the Upper Paleolithic era. Today, the cave is closed for protection and conservation reasons. This is the only one of the 15 listed sites, along with Lascaux I, that cannot be visited.


Grotte du Sorcier
Roc de Saint Cirq, 24260 Saint Cirq
Website - tel : 05 53 07 14 37.
Full price/ reduced price: €7/ €6/ 5-13 years old: €3.50. Free for children under 5 years old.
Open daily from April to October.
April, September and October: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
May and June: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
July and August: 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Wizard’s Cave, discovered in 1952, opens onto a cliff overlooking the village of Saint-Cirq and the Vézère Valley. The carvings, dating from 17,000 to 15,000 years ago, feature bison, goats, horses, signs and geometric shapes. But the name of the cave comes from the sculpture of a wizard, famous for the exaggerated size of his genitals. It is best known as one of the most beautiful engravings of this period in Europe, other human characters are also represented but they are less precise. The Wizard’s Cave is the only site in the valley where there are several human figures, which was very rare for the period.

East of Les Eyzies

East of Les Eyzies de Tayac Sireuil, Road D47 toward Sarlat


Grotte de Font de Gaume
Route de Sarlat
, 24620 Les Eyzies de Tayac
- tel : 05 53 06 86 00.
Full price / reduced price: €7.50 / €6. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (under 18 for non-EU citizens) Possibility of a combined ticket with the Grotte des Combarelles (discounted).
Open daily:
May 15th to September 14th: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ;
September 15th to May 14th: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m..
The site is located 2 kilometers from Les Eyzies. Accessible to those with visual impairment. Book store. Suitable for children. Free shaded parking.

Since the closure of Lascaux, the Font de Gaume Cave, discovered in 1901, remains one of the most monumental caves of the Paleolithic era that is publicly accessible. It is covered with more than 200 engravings and polychrome paintings of animals (horses, reindeer, mammoths and bison) dating back 15,000 years. The rich ornamentation of the cave and the objects found on site (flint tools, red ocher, terracotta containers, ...) show that the cave was used frequently. Decorated by both the Solutreans and Magdalenians, it was used from the Mousterian period to the Bronze Age (from 30,000 years to 1000 years BC), leaving an exceptional testimony to a long historical period.

The Font de Gaume cave is decorated with engravings made with extreme finesse and polychrome paintings whose colors are rich and varied. The arrangement of the frescoes and the achievement of animals, especially bison and reindeer in the narrative scenes, make it one of the wonders of wall art. Many lines and geometric shapes are still visible. The other classified sites, the Grotte des Combarelles and the Grotte de la Mouthe, are in the vicinity of Font de Gaume.


Grottes des Combarelles
Route de Sarlat
, 24620 Les Eyzies de Tayac
- tel : 05 53 06 97 72.
Full price / reduced price: €7.50 / €6. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (under 18 for non-EU citizens) Possibility of combined ticket with the Font de Gaume cave (discounted).
Open daily.
May 15th to September 14th : 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ;
September 15th to May 14th : 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The site is located on the D47 towards Sarlat, on the right, 2 kilometers from Les Eyzies.

Discovered in 1901 by Louis Capitan, Henri Breuil and Denis Peyrony, the Combarelles Cave is one of the finest and most ornate of the Magdalenian period (15,000 years ago). Mainly composed of engravings and drawings of animals, the artistic achievements are exceptional by the number of animals etched (about 800 horses, bison, aurochs, lions and reindeer) and the thematic scenes, such as the one where reindeer clash before a lion, ibex and mammoth. This sanctuary of animal wall art has contributed to the recognition of prehistoric art. For conservation reasons the visit can only be done by six people simultaneously. Reservation one month in advance via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Abri de Cap Blanc (for the family)
24620 Marquay
Website - tel: 05 53 59 60 30.
Full price / reduced price: €7.50 / €6. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (under 18 for non-EU citizens)
Open daily.
May 15th to September 14th : 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ;
September 15th to May 14th: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Accessible to visitors with disabilities.
At 7 kilometers from Les Eyzies, the Abri de Cap Blanc opens to the right bank of the great Beune. To get there, you have to take the D48 leading to Tamniès. Shaded parking and free picnic area.

Discovered in 1909, it was occupied between 35,000 to 10,000 years ago. The shelter of Cap Blanc owes its peculiarity to the various activities that took place there: the tools found present evidence of daily activities, the presence of a burial ground tells us about burial practices in these places, and the magnificent animals carved in the frieze demonstrate once again the innate qualities of these sculpted scenes. This frieze occupies almost the entire shelter. Horses, bison and deer, perfectly executed, express a stunning realism in the precise execution of these hunter-carvers’ strokes. The shelter of Cap Blanc is one of the greatest masterpieces of monumental sculpture in the art of the Upper Paleolithic era. The museum space presents the different carving techniques used.

For children : heritage workshop. Introduction to various techniques of prehistoric wall sculpture, etching and pitting.

Nearby, the Abri de Laussel was found upstream. In 1911, two feminine sculptures were discovered successively, rare for the period: the "Venus à la Corne", also called "Venus de Laussel," and "Venus à tête quadrillé."

West of Les Eyzies

West of Les Eyzies de Tayac Sireuil, road D47 toward Périgueux


Abri de Cro-Magnon
Chemin de Cro-Magnon
, 24620 Les Eyzies-de-Tayac
Free access to the site.
The Cro-Magnon shelter is about 600 meters from the center of the village and 150 meters from the train station on the Route de Tayac.

In 1868 four skeletons were discovered, dating from the Aurignacian period (40,000 to 25,000 years ago). This important discovery is the basis of the physiological description of Homo sapiens sapiens. The aesthetic objects, ornaments and offerings found attest to an ancient collective burial place of the Upper Paleolithic era. The skeletons are four adults and a newborn. More surprising, the age of the adults is between 50 and 60 years! This is all the more surprising because at this time in Europe, the people who were buried were rather young. On the site, there is only one plaque commemorating this fundamental discovery.


Abri du Poisson
- tel : 05 53 06 86 00.
Full price / reduced price: €7.50 / €6.50. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (under 18 for non-EU citizens)
Guided tours every Monday in English at 11:30 a.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the Font-de-Gaume cave.
Located at the foot of a cliff, the Abri du Poisson is a few hundred meters from Laugerie-Haute.

The Fish shelter was discovered in 1912, and owes its name to the beautiful, strikingly realistic sculpture of salmon measuring one meter, dating from about 25,000 years ago. This is one of the oldest known representations of fish. Denis Peyrony, who was very active in the preservation of this salmon (see elsewhere), showed that this shelter was used during the Aurignacian and then the Gravettian periods, when the works were executed (between 30,000 and 22,000 years ago). There are also numerous remains of engravings and paintings, including a black painted hand, discovered in 1975.


The story of ... selling the fish 

Salmon sculpture was discovered in 1912 by Jean Marsan, nicknamed Jean the Fisherman. Immediately and secretly, the engraving of the fish was offered to the anthropological museum in Berlin. The art market not regulated at this time, this type of sale, widely practiced at the time, was therefore legal. Indeed, at that time many archaeologists’ apprentices furrowed sites to loot and sell items to collectors abroad. You’ll have understood: the financial interest was more important than the preservation of this unique heritage. But back to our fish. When he was about to be cut and removed from the rock in December 1912, the mobilization of historians within the Ministry of Fine Arts ended up preventing the removal of the bas-relief by classifying the site as a historical monument from the spring of 1913 onward. The scars of the attempted robbery are still visible.


Grotte du Grand Roc et Abri Laugerie Basse (for the family)

Route de Périgueux, 24620 Les Eyzies de Tayac
Website - tel: 05 53 06 92 70
Price Le Grand Roc: €7.50 / 5 to 12 years: €5. Free for children under 5 years old.
Price Laugerie Basse: €6.50 / 5 to 12 years: €4. Free for children under 5 years old.
Combined ticket: €9.50 / 5 to 12 years old: €6. Free for children under 5 years old.
Open daily from February through December :
February, March, November and December  : 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Monday.
April, May, September and October : 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
July and August : 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Guided tour (40 minutes). Accessible to visitors with disabilities. Childrens’ workshops and nocturnal visits during the summer.Picnic area. Snacks and boutique on site.

Grand Roc
This large rock cave was discovered in 1924, and is a natural site of exceptional beauty. The diversity of the calcareous concretions (stalactites, stalagmites, ...) has made the site internationally renown. Beautiful view from the terrace at the entrance.

Laugerie Basse 

At 2 kilometers from Les Eyzies, on the D 47.
Ideally located in a beautiful landscaped environment at the foot of a 50-meter cliff, this prehistoric site is one of the best known and one of the most famous in the world for its incomparable artistic ensemble spread over a very long period.

The Laugerie Basse shelters were discovered in 1863 by Edouard Lartet and Henry Christy. The site contained countless objects and works of art of great quality: carved or engraved objects and many tools (in flint and bone). In total, more than 600 works were exhumed, exceptional pieces like the statue of the Venus Impudique, eventually sold to the Musée de l'Homme in Paris.

The site reflects recurring and regular human occupation from the Magdalenian period (between 15,000 and  10,000 years ago) to the Middle Ages, passing through the Bronze Age. It became a reference for the period’s historians everywhere. Unfortunately, the site was plundered in the early 20th century by unscrupulous archaeologists and collectors who sold the most valuable parts.

If you look up and observe the cliff, you will distinguish horizontal grooves, man-made furrows to guide the runoff of rainwater and prevent it from entering the cavities.


Abri Laugerie haute

4 avenue des grottes, 
24620 Les Eyzies de Tayac
- tel : 05 53 06 86 00.
Full price / reduced price: €7.50 / €6.50. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (under 18 for non-EU citizens)
Guided tours every Monday in English at 10 a.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the Font-de-Gaume cave.
Accommodation available for visitors with disabilities.

The Laugerie Haute shelter is one of the largest in the valley, along 200 meters, it was used 25,000 years ago by the Gravettians, then the Magdalenians until 12,000 BC. Discovered by Edouard Lartet and Henry Christy in 1863, the site made it possible to refine the chronology of the Upper Paleolithic era, in particular to prove the anteriority of the Solutrean period to the Magdalenian period. Furthermore, they found works of art, including block carvings (exhibited at the Musée National de Préhistoire in Les Eyzies), several flint tools (chisels, scrapers, picks ...), and many animal bones. The faint outline of a mammoth sculpture (back, neck and top of the head) is still visible on the walls of the shelter.


Gisement de la Micoque
4 Avenue des grottes, 24260 Les Eyzies de Tayac
- tel : 05 53 06 86 00.
Full price / reduced price: €7.50 / €6.50. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (under 18 for non-EU citizens)
Guided tours (in French) every Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the Font-de-Gaume cave.
Hiking trail in the area.

The Ferrassie (not part of the classified sites), Micoque and Moustier prehistoric sites all have complementary layers of sediment that provide a good overview of nearly 400,000 years of human occupation in the Périgord region.

The Micoque prehistoric site, discovered in 1895 during agricultural work, is a testimony of extreme importance as it allowed archeologists to retrace 300,000 years of chronology around the occupation of the Périgord region, from the beginning of the Paleolithic era, 400,000 years ago, to the last attendance known on the site, dating to about 150,000 years ago. The flint tools found at the site are among the oldest in the Périgord. It is believed they were used for butchering game. These objects are mostly kept at the Musée National de Préhistoire.


Grotte de Rouffignac (for the family)
24580 Rouffignac Saint Cernin
Website - tel : 05 53 05 41 71
Price: €7.50 / 6 to 12 years old: €4.80. Free for children under 6 years old.
Open daily. April, May, June, September and October: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. / 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ; July and August: 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Visio-guide available in 11 languages (Price €1.50). Accessible to visitors with disabilities. Large and shaded parking. Picnic area. Book store and exhibit space. Educational activities for children.

Though the cave has been known for centuries, the representations were not discovered until 1956 by Louis-René Nougier, Roman Robert, Charles Plassard and his son Louis. Access is gained through oak and chestnut trees before discovering the Rouffignac cave during an hour-long electric train visit. It is the most decorated Périgord cave, and its natural domed architecture rises to three levels, a striking volume, extending almost 10 kilometers. The majority of work was done on the higher level. When you reach the large ceiling, prehistoric animals unfold. Scenes of animal combat, mammoths, bison, horses, goats and rhinos engraved or drawn adorn the walls along the friezes. This real cave-sanctuary revels in its 260 representations made by the Magdalenians around 14,000 years ago.

Here the artistic, nuanced shades of polychrome are largely absent. Some walls have been decorated in charcoal or other black pigments, in particular on the chalk coatings. Other parts of the cave, in softer rock, were worked with flint tools, bone or wood for engravings of high technical and artistic quality. Indeed, the animal figures reflect the artists' ability to adapt to their materials and attest to the subtle perspectives and embossed scenes, painted or engraved, almost giving them life. This cave is sometimes known as the "Cave of a Hundred Mammoths". In reality there are 158. Their representations are sometimes drawn or engraved with an attention to realism and consistent detail. Supplemented by rhinoceroses and geometric figures, the entire ensemble presents a great stylistic unity and confirms the technical and artistic capabilities of its occupants.

The cave was also a burial place from the Neolithic period to Antiquity, which again allowed scientists to refine the historical chronologies of those times.

North of Les Eyzies

North of Les Eyzies de Tayac Sireuil, road D706, toward Montignac


Troglodyte village of La Madeleine 

24620 Tursac
Website - 05 53 46 36 88
.
Price: €6 / child: €3.50. Family rate: €16.
Open daily from April through October :
April and October: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ;
May, June and September: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ;
July and August: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For children : a treasure hunt adds a playful side to the visit. Workshop. Picnic area

Discovered in 1863 by Edward Lartet, La Madeleine site gave its name to the Magdalenian culture, because of the particularity of the 500 lytic (medicinal) and bone tools found on site, evidence of a long history of human occupation of the valley. A burial tomb was also found, a child of three and a half years with ornaments that adorn his body, composed of nearly 1,300 shells and pierced teeth. This ensemble and the presence of ocher and pollen indicate a complex burial ritual for the dead.

The tools and objects found on this site are today scattered among many museums in France and abroad. The site was also inhabited in the 8th century AD and remained occupied until the early 20th century. The strategic position of the deposit and the natural defense system of the cliff even incited people to build a castle, of which  the remains are still visible.


Gisement du Moustier
24620 Peyzac Le Moustier
- tel : 05 53 06 86 00.
Full price / reduced price: €7.50 / €6.50. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (under 18 for non-EU citizens)
Guided tours (in French) every Thursday at 10 a.m. or upon request. Booking and ticketing at the front desk of Font-de-Gaume.
Accommodation available for visitors with disabilities.
The site of Moustier is located 10 kilometers from Les Eyzies. Take the D706 towards Montignac after Tursac.

The Gisement du Moustier, a prehistoric site which is located in the pit of deep gorges, gave its name to the Mousterian culture. This period corresponds to the Neanderthal occupation of the region for several millennia during the Middle Paleolithic (120,000 to 35000 years ago). It consists of two frequently-used shelters. Two exceptional tombs, many flint tools and a wide variety of remains from animals were discovered here. A plaque at the entrance pays tribute to two main excavators, Edouard Lartet and Henry Christy (1863).

Lascaux

La grotte de Lascaux  (not open to visitors)

The Lascaux Cave is named after the hill on which it was discovered by four young men in 1940. It is known throughout the world. It is the masterpiece of prehistoric wall art, called the Sistine Chapel of Prehistory. It is full of paintings and engravings dating from between 18,000 to 17,000 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic era. Unfortunately today the cave is not open to the public. It was until 1963, but the increasing number of visitors and the production of carbon dioxide from breathing began to seriously degrade the works.

And so Lascaux II was established, an exact replica faithfully reproducing the Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery of the original cave. The masterpieces were recomposed using the same techniques, the same pigments and similar materials as at the time of its decoration. This rendering and use of reliefs for paintings and engravings, a true artistic work, pays homage to the genius of artists who shaped it. Through this work, 90% of the original paintings were reproduced.


The story ... of the discovery of Lascaux
In September 1940, Marcel Ravidat discovered a fox hole in the hill of Lascaux. Failing to dig a large enough hole to slip through, he returned to the site two days later with Georges Agniel, Simon Coencas and Jacques Marsal. The four young men enlarged the hole and crawled into the cavity. There, with a lamp, they were the first to discover the paintings, and explored the cave using a rope. A few days later they brought a teacher to the site. It is he who would report the amazing discovery to the authorities! In the months after the discovery, Father Breuil studied the paintings and engravings of the cave. Thereafter, Father Glory continued the excavations and surveys. Research continued until the closure of the site in 1963.


Lascaux II
24290 Montignac
Website - tel : 05 53 51 95 03
.
Price: €10.50 / 5 to 12 years old: €6.50. Free for children under 5 years old.
Possibility of a combined ticket with Le Thot: Adult: €14.50  / 5 to12 years old: €9.80. Free for children under 5 years old.
Opening times:
November through March: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
April, May, June, September and October open daily: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ;
July and August, open daily: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
40-minute guided tour. Facsimile (3D reproduction) located 200 meters from the famous prehistoric cave.

The reproduction of the original cave required an alliance of technological prowess and scientific rigor that allowed scientists to perfectly recreate the atmosphere of the world's most famous Paleolithic sanctuary. In addition, two museums retrace the history of the cave and explain the techniques of artists.

The Interior 

The cave walls are richly decorated. Visitors will first note the height at which the paintings are located. It is likely that in some places the artists used scaffolding, but the researchers believe that over the millennia the natural erosion of the interior of the cave has lowered the ground level, gradually moving the painted, drawn or engraved works of animals farther upward. The state of conservation of the paintings may seem extraordinary. For some, they were in fact covered with a thick layer of scale, which allowed for their excellent preservation.

The natural ventilation of the cave today offers the fascinating spectacle of detailed hunting scenes, skillfully composed of horses, bulls and bison. A few human figures, as well as lines and geometric shapes complement the sumptuous setting. The notoriety of Lascaux rests on the paintings of the Hall of the Bulls, the Axial Gallery and Nave. However, as evidenced by the very high number of figures present in the other rooms, the art of Lascaux still clearly dominated by engravings.

Lascaux did not only leave works of art, 350 objects were also found : bone, wood, flint blades, spears, tools for engraving, but also shells, sometimes pierced, which were used as ornaments or ceremonials, proving that the Cro-Magnons moved over vast territories.

The salle des Taureaux

The Hall of Bulls is the most monumental of Paleolithic work of art. To better understand and analyze the scenes of the room, on the left wall is the panel of the Unicorn and on the right wall, the panel of the Black Bear. The representation of the bear is quite exceptional, and is not replicated in any other cave in the valley. There are 36 animals total, including 17 horses, aurochs, cows, bulls and deer. Furthermore, you will notice the many lines and geometric signs, as mysterious as ever.

The diverticule axial


The long, 30-meter corridor of the Axial Gallery was ideal for painting, the proximity of the wall on a wide surface promoted the artistic blossoming. On the right, three successive panels are visible: the panel of Chinese Horses, panel of the falling cow, then the red panel, with two horses and a bison. On the left : panel of red cows, the panel of the big black bull, the sign of the mule and, at the back, the overthrown horse Locus. The decor consists of more than 50 animals and many geometric signs.

The passage
The passage connects the Hall of Bulls to the Nave and the Apse. Although ornate, its reading remains difficult.  Horses, bison, ibex, deer and as always, geometric shapes, are distinguishable.

The nef
The left wall of the Nave consists of four panels: one of the seven Ibex, the Footprint, the Great Black Cow and the leaning Bison. The right wall is occupied by the only frieze of swimming deer. Figurative themes are split among horse, goat, deer, bison and aurochs. The aurochs is particularly impressive for its massive silhouette in the center of the painting.

The diverticule des félins


The Chamber of Felines stretches to a length of about 25 meters. More than 80 figures have been recorded. Of the 51 animal figures: 29 horses, 9 bison, 4 ibex and 3 deer. Cats take on a more important role than in the rest of the cave with six individual figures. They are often discretely painted on the background of the cave, reflecting the discreet nature of these animals.

The abside

The apse contains 500 animals and 600 lines and geometric signs. The figures are distributed from floor to ceiling. The graphic exuberance is partly due to the soft limestone.

< Home Vézère Valley

News from the Vézère Valley