The world famous Lascaux Caves are found near Montignac in the Vézere Valley, 20 miles north of Sarlat to the east of Lalinde. The paintings in Lascaux caves date from the period around 19,000 years ago.
In a well known story, the Lascaux caves were discovered in 1940 by a group of teenagers who were searching for their dog. After the end of the second world war the caves were opened to the public, to great acclaim, but then were closed in 1963 because the paintings were being damaged by the breath of thousands of visitors.
The cave paintings at Lascaux are mostly pictures of large animals. Perhaps most interesting of all, they include the 'auroch', an early relative of the ox that is now extinct. It is believed that the Auroch was a sacred beast in prehistoric times.
In addition to the world renowned Lascaux caves, the Vézere Valley contains numerous other traces of prehistoric and early settlement - according to UNESCO - who have the valley listed as a UNESCO French world Heritage site - there are 147 prehistoric sites and 25 painted caves in the valley.
The main prehistoric highlights of the Vézere Valley - often called the cradle of mankind - are found along the lower reaches of the river, between Montignac , Le Bugue and Les Eyzies de Tayac (usually called simply Les Eyzies). Les Eyzies is home to two interesting museums: the Musee National de Prehistoire and the Musée de l'Abri Pataud, which between them offer a good taste of the paraphernalia that has emerged from the surrounding countryside.