Driving down the Vézère valley in Périgord is FASCINATING! A dream for every traveler. You will be able to visit Montignac and Lascaux (and its famous grottoes where unfortunately you can only se copes of the prehistoric drawings). You will be able to make side trips to super beautiful picturesque villages like Saint-Amand de Coly, chateau de Losse, Thonac, Rouffignac and the sinister chateau de l'Herm.
Do I still wet your appetite by naming all Paleolithic sites along the Vézère, like Saint Leon sur Vézère, Le Conquil, Sergeac? Finally you will arrive to the highlight of this tour: Les Eyzies-de Tayac, "the world capital of Prehistory".
But let's start from the beginning: MONTIGNAC.
Once a busy port; it sits tight now on the right bank of the Vézère, its wooden balconies reflected peacefully across the waters.
Ancient living place of the comtes du Perigord who resisted to the king of France, Montignac suffered from all these wars but then a long period of tranquility came, only slightly troubled by the French Revolution. The chateau was destroyed in 1826 and the stones used to build new houses for Montignac.
It is difficult to imagine the chateau de Montignac as military capital of Perigord, seeing the remnants today: a dungeon and a few walls. The comtes du Périgord were so powerful that they could defy the roi de France himself!
Montignac, who lived up to 1940 thanks to the commerce of "gabares" (river boats) got a huge boost in that year 1940. It became a world famous village, in September 1940, by the discovery of the GROTTES DE LASCAUX, "the Versailles of the prehistoric art", "the Sixtine Chapel of prehistory, like the abbé Breuil surnamed the place. Montignac, is a genuine pilgrimage at the sources of humanity.
You can visit the Chateau de Montignac at the top of rue de Juillet. Now only vertiginous terraces, vaulted casements and a single square tower.
The Vézère splits the village in two parts with its fountains, houses on piles, washbasins and houses drunk by sunshine. Loitering will be the occasion to see the shops, make a lunch stop, smell the market perfumes, and see this light, which is unique in the world.
Next articles will be about Lascaux I and Lascaux II.
Recensement des cabanes en pierre sèche de Montignac-sur-Vézère, by Eric Bougot- Quatre cents siécles d'art pariétal, Montignac, by Breuil, H.(Centre d'Etudes de la Documentation Préhistorique 1952)
Mystery of the Montignac and the Lascaux cave by Dorothy Hinshaw.
A Taste of Perigord (mars 1994), from Helen Raimes-Pèlerinages en Périgord, by Pierre Fanlac-Le Périgord (1997) by Marcel Clévenot and Eric Jung-Contes