Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Nouvelle Aquitaine
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Archaeology & History Sites in Nouvelle Aquitaine

Abri Cap Blanc

The bas relief sculptures of animals, mostly horses, at Cap Blanc are the finest examples of sculptured Palaeolithic art still in situ and open to the public in France. The highlight of the frieze is a carved horse, the body of which measures over two metres in length. In the deposit in front of the carved panel lies the body (now a cast) of a young female. The archaeological deposit also revealed tools that must have been used to carve the animals. Today the shelter is enclosed within a building that also houses a very good museum.

Bara Bahau

Located deep in the cave on a sloping, soft limestone wall are a number of engraved animals and geometric patterns, including horses, bisons, bears and deer. Before the cave was occupied by Palaeolithic communities, bears hibernated in the cave and scratched the walls with their claws. As at other caves, the artists here made use of some of these scratch marks. The original prehistoric finely incised depictions are difficult to see. To help visitors better experience this cave, line drawing of the images have been placed on light-boxes in front of the panel.

Château de Beynac

Said to be the best preserved castle in the Perigord region, Château de Beynac is certainly one of the more picturesque. Hence why it has been used as a location for a number of films, including Luc Besson’s 1999 Jeanne d’Arc. Visitors get an excellent audio guide that follows an interesting route through the various architectural and historical features of the castle, including 15th century frescoes and the crenellated Romanesque terrace. During the 100 Year’s War the castle was on the side of the French.

Font de Gaume

Font de Gaume is the only decorated cave in France that has polychrome paintings that has remained open to the public. Although access is very restricted, and why tickets are highly sort after. In a narrow gallery there are over 230 animal engraved and painted depictions. Not only are some of the painted bisons polychrome, they are also both engraved and painted. One of the many highlights of the site is a frieze of 5 bison, where the artist(s) made use of the contours of the rock face to give shape to the painted bison.

Lascaux II

Lascaux II opened to the public in 1983, situated about 200 m from the entrance to Lascaux. About 90% of the original cave is reproduced in this the first replica. With the opening of Lascaux IV, Lascaux II has remained open, itself a historical monument. Visitors now get a very different experience to what was offered before, an what is on offer at Lascaux IV. Long gone are the groups of 25 being rushed through so that as many groups can make it as possible – that is now Lascaux IV. A guided tour starts above ground and takes you to the entrance of the famous cave, before heading into the replica where you are treated to seeing the Hall of Bulls by candle light. An experience for those who have a deeper interest in cave art and prehistory.

Lascaux IV

Lascaux IV opened to the public in December 2016. The first replica and the original cave was in effect becoming a victim of Lascaux II’s success. A new replica was installed in a start-of-the-art interpretation centre was constructed at the base of the hill in which the cave of Lascaux is found; just outside the town of the town of Montignac. Visitors get a guided tour through an almost complete reproduction of the cave and are then left to explore various interpretative galleries.  The experience is very high tech, this is not just a more complete and better replica. The emphasis is on imparting what we know about prehistoric art as opposed to building an amazing replica.

Les Combarelles

Les Combarelles, unlike most of the other caves open to the public in the Les Eyzies area, is notable for its many exquisitely engraved depictions along a windy, narrow passage of about 240 metres in length. Although the usual range of animals were engraved, such as horses, bison, mammoth, reindeer, bears, and lions, there are also a number of representations of humans. Depictions of humans in European cave art are relatively rare, but there are exceptional examples here: stylized outlines of female bodies.

Oradour-sur-Glane Martyr Village

Oradour-sur-Glane is a small town in the centre of France where, on 10 June 1944, the Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division Das Reich unexpectedly entered what was then a village with little over 650 inhabitants, rounded up all who were present at the time, massacred them, looted the houses and shops and then set fire to the town before continuing on their way north to join other German troops defending their position in Normandy. Only one person survived the attack, 64 were killed. With minimal intervention, the village has been left as a memorial ever since.


With over eight kilometres of underground tunnels, the cave of Rouffignac is the largest of the decorated caves in the Vézère Valley currently open to the public. The cave has both paintings and engravings, an these are located deep in the cave. Visitors are taken to a number of the panels on an electric train. Besides some extraordinary examples of prehistoric art, there are also ancient bear pits, as well as historical graffiti that indicates this cave has been known about in the Modern period for a few hundred years at least.

Museums & Art Galleries in Nouvelle Aquitaine

Aquitaine Museum, Bordeaux

In 1963 a number of different museums in Bordeaux amalgamated to form Le Musée d’Aquitaine. With over 70,000 objects, this museum covers the history of the Bordeaux region from prehistory to the 20th century in over 5,000 square meters of displays. The range of objects included is quite amazing, from carved bone of Palaeolithic age to carved stone from the medieval period.

Le Thot

A theme park and museum with a number of reconstructions of prehistoric life in the Stone Age. Including dioramas that show how Palaeolithic people created their paintings and engravings. The vast grounds have many enclosures with living animals, the range of animals that the Palaeolithic artists depicted on their cave walls. In the museum are reproductions of five of the more spectacular panels in the cave of Lascaux not seen in the Lascaux II facsimile. For many obvious reasons this is a great place to take the children, who love the horses, bison and goats.

National Museum of Prehistory, Les Eyzies

The National Museum of Prehistory is one of the finest museums that explore the early prehistory of humanity. Innovative displays offer an extensive introduction to the archaeology of the Vézére Valley. Highlights include a number of intricately carved bone and ivory artefacts, as well as reconstructions of extinct animals. The Stone Age archaeology of the Vézére Valley is placed in context of the Palaeolithic worldwide, to show how important this area has been in the history of archaeology.

Pôle d'Interprétation de la Préhistoire

Inaugurated in July 2010, the centre provides visitors to the region with the necessary information required to visit the decorated caves and other archaeological sites and museums in the Vézère Valley. Besides being able to get your physical bearings, the centre also has a series of state of the art displays that introduces visitors to the archaeology of the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons.