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This New Experience Gives You “Access” to a Famed Prehistoric Cave in Marseille

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Located under the Marseille coastline, the Cosquer Cave was discovered in 1985 by diver Henri Cosquer. A replica, seen here, is now open in Marseille.

Photo by AP Photo/Daniel Cole

Located under the Marseille coastline, the Cosquer Cave was discovered in 1985 by diver Henri Cosquer. A replica, seen here, is now open in Marseille.

A replica of the undersea Cosquer Cave—complete with recreations of the paintings that made it famous—is now open in the south of France.

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Some 120 feet below the sea, off the coast of Marseille, a prehistoric cave complete with Palaeolithic rock art was discovered by diver Henri Cosquer in 1985. Since then, the Cosquer Cave has been digitally mapped in a race to preserve what's now a protected historic monument as rising tides threaten to inundate the cave. Currently, only 20 percent of the cave remains dry.

Accessible only by scuba diving, the cave remains off-limits to the general public—but thanks to a preservation and reconstruction project, a new 3D experience gives visitors a sense of the underwater wonder at Cosquer Méditerranée—now open on Marseille's waterfront.

Reproductions of cave drawings are featured in the replica of the Cosquer Cave, now open in Marseille.

Years in the making, this replica exhibit offers the chance to discover the otherwise off-limits cave. The visual and audio “experience” spans three floors, starting with a re-creation of the diving school Cosquer ran in the 1980s. Then guests take an elevator down to the entrance of the replica cave and board pontoon boats that will take them through the nearly 19,000-square-foot space. During the boat ride, which takes 35 minutes, audio guides tell the story of the Homo sapiens who lived in the cave 30,000 years ago and created the prehistoric paintings of wildlife and negative handprints that made the cave internationally famous. 

Afterwards, guests can also watch a previously unseen documentary about Cosquer’s discovery of the cave and explore the Galerie de la Méditerranée, an immersive exhibit on Palaeolithic rock art and people who created it.

Journalists attend a preview tour before the opening of the replica of the Cosquer Cave.

How to visit


The museum is located on the Marseille waterfront on the Robert Laffont Promenade, about a 10-minute walk from the Vieux Port or Joliette metro station. 

It opened June 4 and will remain open through September 25, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; September 26 to November 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and November 11 to March 31, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Tickets for adults ages 18 and over cost €16; children 10 to 17 cost €10; children 6 to 9 cost €5; and children under 6 years of age are free. For safety reasons, children under 3 are not allowed into the cave portion of the exhibit. Purchase tickets at grotte-cosquer.com.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.

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