Vézère Valley - Visit time : 2 to 3 days.
The Vézère Valley possesses many treasures. Indeed, a part of the history of mankind was written here and left numerous, priceless testimonies.
Over 30,000 years ago the valley was inhabited by men and women known as the Cro-Magnons. This unique site holds a special place in the history of mankind, and informs us about the very existence of our ancestors. And there is so much evidence, thanks especially to the richness of the Lascaux cave, that a chronological framework of human history was possible. Immerse yourself in the prehistoric era and discover cultures of unsuspected wealth!
Among the many sites, caves, shelters and other cavities in the beautiful Vézère Valley, 15 sites joined the World Heritage list, and were selected for their complementarity, their diversity and their rich heritage. Each site expresses and reflects a part of the rich Cro-Magnon culture from 30,000 years ago. The different forms of artistic expression are present in these places. They do not represent an exhaustive ensemble of cultural trends already present at the time in Europe, but are the most abundant in quantity, the most spectacular in their quality and in an exceptional state of preservation. Beyond the cultural testimony that the valley offers, it teaches us above all about the very existence of our ancestors, their way of life, their social and territorial organization, their hunting and fishing techniques, their funerary rites, and their symbolic expression.
Of these 15 sites, the Lascaux Cave is of particular note, whose discovery was a landmark in the history of prehistoric art. The very large number of objects, skeletons and works of art found there provide an invaluable testimony to the quality and complexity of these prehistoric civilizations in Europe. They allowed scientists to establish a chronological framework that has become a benchmark in the world.
The prehistoric site of the Vézère Valley is a monumental ensemble of 147 prehistoric sites and 25 decorated caves. Among them, UNESCO declared 15 World Heritage Sites of humanity in 1979. The sites are particularly interesting from an ethnological, anthropological and aesthetic point of view.
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i): certain of the figurative ensembles of the caves of the Vézère are universally recognized as masterpieces of prehistoric art: the Venus de Laussel (Marquay), the frieze of horses in high relief of Cap-Blanc, and especially the famous wall paintings of the Lascaux cave, the discovery of which in 1940 was of great importance for the history of prehistoric art. The hunting scenes show some 100 animal figures, which are remarkable for their detail, rich colors and lifelike quality.
Criterion (iii): the objects and works of art found in the Vézère Valley bear extremely rare witness to long-extinct civilizations, which are very difficult to understand. This material, infinitely valuable for the knowledge of the earlier periods of human history, dates back to a period long before Antiquity up to the Paleolithic era, and is of universal interest as being exceptional from a historic, as well as ethnological, anthropological and aesthetic points of view.
Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS