It is commonplace for Les Eyzies to be introduced as the world’s Prehistoric Capital and the numerous painted caves and, particularly, the proliferation of rock shelters only confirm this notion. The most varied prehistoric, and historic, styles and periods are represented, making Les Eyzies the archetypal town for travelling through the past. This vast, motionless promenade enables us to appreciate more thoroughly the passing of prehistoric time. From La Micoque to Laugerie-Basse, from 300,000 to 5000 years B.C., prehistory at Les Eyzies lasted one hundred and fifty times longer than the Christian era.
Even if you only have a passing interest in prehistoric times, Les Eyzies would be worth a visit. if only for its site. At the confluence of the Vezere and the Beune. the little village. out of which rises an old castle converted into a museum. clings to the bottom of tall cliffs containing shelters, caves and troglodyte dwellings. crowned with green oaks and juniper trees. Having crossed the Vezere. a little road which winds between the river and the rocks follows the prehistoric Royal road an unimaginable succession of caves and shelters in an impressive framework of cliffs.
The chalk uplands which surround Les Eyzies are rich in flint, crisss-crossed with dozens of secret clefts and valleys, dominated by cliffs with hidden caves made fine hunting country for prehistoric man. Solid natural materials abound for making weapons and tools, and the shelter of the rock formations made the Perigord a perfect place to live. 100,000 years ago Neanderthal man walked the valley of the Dordogne and left sufficient remains to make it a focal point of prehistory. Although he was named after the small valley in Germany where, in 1856, bines were found that fit his description, it was at Le Moustier, near Les Eyzies, that archaeologists first cataloged his weapons and tools.
The oldest human skeletal remains found in the Dordogne are of Neanderthal Man. The Moustier site yielded three complete skeletons another was found at Le Rigourdou, and at La Ferrassie, near Le Bugue, seven were unearthed.