The most fascinating prehistoric sites in France

Carnac Stones, photo by Tony Brierton

France may be one of the most chic and hip places on the planet, but let it never be said that it doesn’t cherish its past. French history makes for an exciting read, and French prehistory is not far behind, even if we know less about it. And since the dawn of history, the French (and their various ancestors) had no qualms about immortalizing their victories, defeats, celebrations, heroes or mythical figures. Prehistoric sites abound in France, and whoever wants to boast of a well-rounded knowledge of the French and French society should pay a visit to these enchanting and mysterious places. To give you a taste, here are some of the most fascinating prehistoric sites in France.

Carnac Stones, Brittany

The UK might have its Stonehenge, but France has the Carnac Stones, which are just as impressive. The pre-Celtic people of Brittany used these local stones to erect this stunning monument made up of over 3000 stones in Neolithic times. The best bet of historians is that the stones were added over the span of many years, as homages to ancestors of deities. There are two main groups of stones in Carnac, the Menec and Kermario alignments, plus scores of smaller alignments.

Lascaux Caves, Montignac, Dordogne

Lascaux, photo by Jack Versloot

The caves of Lascaux are probably the most famous prehistoric site in France, and one that will stay with you for a long time after you visit it. The caves are famous for their incredible cave paintings over 17,000 years old. The paintings depict animals that don’t even exist anymore with incredible skill and detail. Since the original cave is endangered, visitors are show a perfect replica of the two main halls, called Lascaux II.

Regourdou Prehistoric Site, Dordogne

Not far from Lascaux lies another one of the most fascinating prehistoric sites in France, Regourdou, discovered a little more than 50 years ago. The site is thought to ahve been the center of a prehistoric bear cult. The skeleton of a Neanderthal man, a gravesite and the skeletons of several bears were found at the site. Today, there are about 20 semi-wild bears roaming the grounds, and you can only visit it with a tour guide.

Locmariaquer Megaliths, Brittany

Locmariaquer, photo by Rob Glover

TheĀ  Locmariaquer complex is made up of some stunning Neolithic constructions and monuments, including an elaborate tumulus grave, a large dolmen as well as the single largest unbroken stone slab known to have been transported and erected by Neolithic people. Er-Grah tumulus is over 7000 years old and was probably used as a grave.

Roc-aux-Sorciers, Angles sur l’Anglin, Vienne department

Roc-aux-Sorciers was nothing more than a rock shelter in upper Paleolithic times, but prehistoric people knew how to make their shelters look truly special: through relief carvings. The Roc-aux-Sorciers’s sculptures is a convincing proof that the skill of prehistoric sculptors was considerable indeed.

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