Prehistoric art has met its audience. The replica of the Cosquer cave, a vast underwater cavern in the Mediterranean adorned with masterpieces of prehistoric art, has welcomed since its opening a year ago some 800,000 visitors, a result welcomed Tuesday by its promoters.

"It was an ambition that seemed unreasonable but was achieved because the project was very beautiful and the professionals who took care of it are frighteningly effective," Renaud Muselier, president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, told reporters. "It works from 3 to 95 years old. There is the cave that is buried and is doomed to disappear and there is an exciting scientific background. (...) There is drawing, art, it is something that fascinates the collective imagination, "abounded Geneviève Rossillon, boss of the Kléber Rossillon group, designer and manager of the site.

After the announcement in 1991 of the discovery by the diver Henri Cosquer of this cave more than 30,000 years old in the depths of the creeks of Marseille, the idea of making a replica for a wide audience had quickly germinated. But it was not until 2016 that the PACA Region decided to implement it at the Villa Méditerranée, a modern but unexploited building, ideally located next to the Mucem, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, in the heart of the second city of France.

500,000 annual visitors expected at cruising speed

The third replica of a prehistoric cave in France, after those of Lascaux in Dordogne and Chauvet in Ardèche, already made by Kléber Rossillon, opened its doors to the general public on June 4, 2022. For the next few years, Kléber Rossillon is still counting on the attraction of novelty to attract an equivalent number of visitors, before aiming "at cruising speed" about 500,000 annual entries within three or four years, said Geneviève Rossillon. In the coming weeks, the site will also host an "exploration cabin" allowing virtual reality to circulate in the original cavern and not in its replica.

"The challenge for us is to develop organizations that make us not in mass tourism but in organized tourism," commented Renaud Muselier. "The Cosquer Cave is fully in line with this," he said, praising the ease of access to the site, where a reservation is required for any visit. "This is what we are developing with the regional tourism committee throughout the region, in order to break down these trips and ensure that the region remains attractive despite the number of visitors," he concluded.

  • Mediterranean
  • Marseille
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
  • PACA
  • Cave
  • Prehistory
  • Paint
  • Art
  • Entertainment
  • Culture