The small, attractive town of Montignac is the main base for visiting the Grotte de Lascaux, which was discovered in 1940 by four boys who stumbled across a deep cavern decorated with marvellously preserved paintings of animals. Executed by Cro-Magnon people 17,000 years ago, the paintings are among the finest examples of prehistoric art in existence. There are five or six identifiable styles, and subjects include bison, mammoths and horses, plus the biggest known prehistoric drawing, of a 5.5m bull with an astonishingly expressive head and face. In 1948, the cave was opened to the public, and over the next fifteen years more than a million tourists came to see it.
Sadly, because of deterioration caused by the heat and breath of visitors, the cave had to be closed in 1963; however, a spectacular replica – known as Lascaux IV – has been built at a safe distance from the original. The ambitious new building, opened in December 2016, has been designed to blend into the surrounding landscape, and is half buried in the hill on which it is built.