Because the region is so rich in natural resources and has great climate, it has was the cradle of European humanity dating back to prehistorical days some 400,000 years ago, and has been fought over for much of its history since.
It is here that Cro-Magnon man settled, and has many sites of major historical interest. These include Lascaux II – a replica of a cave discovered in 1940 with cave paintings dating back to 15.000BC. The French National Prehistory Museum is located at Les Eyzies, and there are numerous troglodyte caves and dwellings dotted throughout the Dordogne and Vezere valleys, including the Rock of St Christophe.
The area was the subject of Viking invasions for over a century from the 850’s, who are reputed to have navigated their long boats as far up the Dordogne as Vitrac. The Romans settled here until the fall of the Empire.
There are many castles and buildings built by the Knights Templar, and of course the route of the pilgrimages St Jacques de Compostelle pass through. More recently, this was the principle battleground of the Hundred Years War and it was this conflict that takes the credit for many of the relics left over today and form much of the fabric of the landscape – Bastide Towns, châteaux and bridges. The frontline between Vichy France and the territories occupied by the Germans in the Second World War, although sadly memories of this period run deep and little is done to record and exhibit this part of history.