In the Ardeche gorge in southern France lies one of the most important prehistoric sites ever discovered. It's locked away behind a thick metal door, hidden halfway up a towering limestone cliff-face. Few people have ever been allowed inside, but BBC Newsnight has been granted rare access by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.
Until recently, the last people to set eyes on this place were our Palaeolithic ancestors, before a rock fall cut it off from the outside world. This exquisitely preserved time-capsule was sealed shut for more than 20,000 years, until it was discovered by three cavers - Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire and Jean-Marie Chauvet, after whom it is now named - on the 18th December 1994.
At first they thought they had uncovered a network of spectacular caverns. But as they ventured deeper inside, they realised this was the discovery of a lifetime - the cave held some of the oldest art ever found. The walls were adorned with hundreds of paintings. Most of them were animals - woolly rhinos, mammoths, lions and bears intermingle with horses, aurochs and ibex.
Link 1 (BBC)
Link 2 (Wikipedia)