496km (308 miles) SW of Paris; 47km (29 miles) SE of Périgueux
The Caves at Lascaux, 2km (1.25 miles) from the Vézère River town of Montignac in the Dordogne region, contain the most beautiful and most famous cave paintings in the world. Unfortunately, you can’t view the actual paintings (the caves have been closed to the public to prevent deterioration), but a precise replica gives you a clear picture of the remarkable works.
Four boys looking for a dog called Robot discovered the caves in 1940. They opened to the public in 1948, quickly becoming one of France’s major attractions and drawing 125,000 visitors annually. However, the hordes of tourists caused atmospheric changes in the caves, endangering the paintings. Scientists went to work to halt the destructive fungus plaguing the paintings, known as “the green sickness,” and a detailed facsimile was constructed nearby for visitors. The town of Montignac itself is worth a stop, for its well-preserved medieval streets and houses.