You'll never go into Chauvet Cave. I'll never go into Chauvet Cave. Probably only a few dozen people will ever go into Chauvet Cave.
And that's as it should be, for our absence has preserved, and will continue to preserve, traces of the previous users of the cave – human beings from around 32,000 to 26,000 years ago, who left a tremendous gallery of paintings of the animals of the time (and an occasional faint trace and image of themselves) and the cave bears and other animals with which they shared it.
The magic for this French cave was that it wasn't discovered until 1996. Unlike Lascaux, and so many other such treasures, it wasn't trampled by careless 19th and 20th-century feet – subjected to the breath and probing hands of thousands (which has caused so much damage that Lascaux has now been closed).
But it hardly matters, for with this comprehensive, flamboyantly illustrated text — not so much a coffee table book as a dining table book, given its size and weight — you get pretty close to seeing everything in the cave that's yet been seen. (The careful, considered process of research means that it will be decades before everything is examined.)
The tremendous job that is exploring this cave was granted to a research consortium, and one of its promises was that it would publish and make available its results as soon as possible – and it is certainly living up to its word with this book, and doing so in a way that is both eminently serious and considered, but also perfectly accessible to the lay person. (You can get a preview on the official website.)
Everything that has been done is carefully explained and illustrated. You get to see, for example, the photograph of the footprints of a large canid at their clearest spot, then a drawing made from them, which makes them far clearer to the non-expert eye. Then the way this is done is explained – with a picture of a person making the cast from which the drawing was done. The text explains why this helps.