The pretty old town of Montignac serves as a good base for visiting the nearby prehistoric caves.
Sited on the Vézère river, its main attraction is the ruined Château du Montignac whose keep was rebuilt in the 1960s using original stones from the Saint Etienne priory. Nearby the Lascaux cave, the largest and best-preserved works of prehistoric art, should not be missed. Today you can only visit replicas of the cave to avoid further damage to the original paintings by the carbon dioxide emitted by visitors.
History & Culture in Montignac
Situated on a strategic site, the bridge over the Vézère sits in the heart of the town and from the eleventh to the fourteenth century it was one of the seats of the Counts of Périgord. The Château de Montignac now lies in ruins, though some wall bases, terraces and a single tower remain.
Montignac was the home of the nineteenth-century French writer Eugène Le Roy, who wrote two celebrated novels about rural life in eighteenth century Périgord. There is a small museum in the town dedicated to him.
Sights & Attractions in Montignac
The most obvious attraction of Montignac and the surrounding area is of course the Lascaux Caves. Discovered in the 1940's, the paintings in these caves are thought to be over 17,000 years old. Although you can visit the cave, due to preservation reasons mentioned above, you will only be allowed to visit the splendid replica cave, where you can have a guided visit to help you understand more about them. During the busy summer months of July and August you can also visit the caves at night.
As you travel south-west out of Montignac you will come across many prehistoric sites, including Le Thot - Espace Cro-Magnon which compliments the Lascaux caves, La Roque Saint-Christophe and the Maison Fort de Reignac.
Along with the ruins of the Chateau de Montignac, a visit to the nearby castle and gardens of Chateau de Losse is a great way to spend a few hours.
Things to do in Montignac
A walk around this pretty town is high on the list of things to do when you arrive. You can pick up a 'carte touristique' from the tourist office that will walk you through some of the main highlights and best things to see in town. Minus the coffee breaks it should take around 90 minutes to walk around...however, we did it with an hour coffee break in the middle, just to re-fuel!
As you are on the banks of the river Vézère it would seem a shame not to take advantage and take to the calm and tranquil waters in kayak or canoe. The countryside here is very beautiful and typical of what you might expect of the Dordogne region. Paddle past stately homes and chateaux and through small villages on your way downstream.