Tayac, the tiny but very picturesque village just 10 min. walk from the center of Les Eyzies is often overlooked by the majority of visitors passing through Les Eyzies. Up untill the early 1900’s Les Eyzies de Tayac was simply known as “Tayac”. Tayac is more than 600 years older than Les Eyzies, and one of the oldest villages in the Dordogne region. Tayac is historically extremely rich, it was not just the roaming grounds of our Prehistoric ancestors, but the Celts , Romans and Gauls all left their markings on the area.
In the early 12th century 6 Monks from the Monastery of Paunat were travelling between Monasteries when one of the Monks became very ill, they set up camp in Tayac near a water source. The monk was dieing, but miraculously healed after drinking the water from the “Tayac Source”. To the Monks of Paunat this was a “Sign” and round about 1113 they started building the magnificent and fortified church of Tayac, they called it “St Martin“. At the same time, the Monks of Paunat started working the land in this lush Vezere valley, they built the farmhouse / monastery, which is now “Ferme de Tayac” that has been completely renovated, and is now a lovely B&B opposite the church. For hundreds of years the Monks lived here and worked the lands, bit by bit houses were built against the rock. The water from the “Tayac Source” was taken to other surrounding Monasteries, for it’s healing powers, Tayac was thriving. Two centuries later, things took a turn, wars were breaking out, armies were constantly attacking areas and strongholds. Religion and all that went with it lost it’s power, and very slowly the life in and around Tayac became what it is today. St. Martin still stands proud, and is without doubt the nicest Fortified Church in the Perigord, the “Tayac Source” is still there, although no longer in use.
During construction for a railroad in 1868, a rock shelter in a limestone cliff was uncovered. Near the back of the shelter, an occupation floor was recognized, and when excavated, it revealed the remains of four adult skeletons, one infant, and some fragmentary bones. The Link between Prehistoric Man and Modern Man had been found, here in Tayac.