At the time when the type-sites of the Dordogne were being explored French archaeologists were equally active further south in their country. From caves and surface sites in the Mediterranean provinces local landowners, doctors and clergy were collecting material which not only matched most of the palaeolithic tool forms being distinguished in the south-west of France, but was later to provide Déchelette with many of his illustrations for the neolithic and metal ages. It was not uncommon for flints, pottery and metal all to come from the same cave.
These old collections, or such of them as can be traced, are the basis of what is known about the prehistory of the south of France. Unfortunately, much of the material has come down to us with very little information, apart from provenance, and although some details of excavation were carefully recorded it seems generally to have been considered that plans of caves were more informative than sections through them.
Topographically the south of France consists largely of a narrow alluvial plain, stretching right round the Gulf of Lions between the Italian and Spanish frontiers and broadening out in the delta of the Rhône. Today the region is distinguished from the rest of France by its Mediterranean climate. East of the Rhône, in Provence, this coastal climate is soon modified to the north by the high mountains, but in the old province of Languedoc between the Rhône and the Pyrenees the typical Mediterranean vegetation is carried up onto the rocky limestone plateau, or Garrigue, until it reaches the barren Causses of the Massif Central. In France, the western limit of this climatic zone falls between Carcassonne and Toulouse, but eastward and to the south the Mediterranean conditions continue, so that the south French plain forms a climatic unit with the coastlands of Italy and Spain.
This plain, shut in to the north by high land, is most easily accessible from the sea or coastwise from adjacent Mediterranean countries. Easy communication with the rest of France is confined to the great river valleys of the Rhône and Aude which cut through the mountains to the north and west.