Prehistoric art (25,000 BC–1,000 BC)

Cave paintings in Lascaux, dating back about 17,000 years (Photo by unknown)
Cave paintings in Lascaux, dating back about 17,000 years

After England's Stonehenge, Europe's most famous prehistoric remains have to be France's Paleolithic cave paintings.

After England's Stonehenge, Europe's most famous prehistoric remains have to be France's Paleolithic cave paintings.

Created 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, they depict scenes of reindeer, bison, horses, boars, stags, and hunters slinging arrows and spears.

Whether these had magical significance, served in religious rites, or were simply decorative is anybody's guess, but they do offer us an unparalleled glimpse into the dawn of human culture.

Artists & examples of Prehistoric art in France

The original Lascaux, the Sistine Chapel of prehistoric art, has been closed since 1963, but experts have created a prefect replica called Lascaux II.

To see the genuine stuff, visit nearby Les Eyzies, which boasts four caves (Font de Gaume is the best).

In the neighboring Lot Valley, outside Cahors, lies the Grotte du Pech-Merle, sporting France's oldest cave art (about 20,000 years old)