Above: Lascaux IV, a replica of the world-renowned Lascaux cave, in the Dordogne, France

One of the great treasures of southwestern France is its collection of caves decorated with prehistoric paintings and etchings, mostly ranging between 15,000 and 30,000 years old. Standing before artworks created so far back in human history is a profound experience that alone makes the journey worthwhile. All the caves below restrict the number of visitors to varying degrees, making it necessary to reserve tickets months in advance, especially in high season.

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