Dive into the past at the Cosquer cave reconstruction

As everyone knows, the calanques are brimming with natural treasures that can be revealed on a hike or a boat trip. But there are also hidden historical treasures, concealed at the bottom of the sea and virtually inaccessible. In the 1980s, deep-sea diver Henri Cosquer ventured into an underground passage 37 metres below the surface of the water and discovered a veritable historical and geological marvel. Before his astonished eyes were hundreds of prehistoric paintings and engravings adorning the walls of the cave. The cave became known as the Cosquer cave. In June 2022, right in the centre of Marseille, Cosquer Méditerranée opened its doors. Inside a modern building, visitors can admire the 480 paintings in the Cosquer cave in a larger-than-life recreation. Other areas and exhibitions will enable visitors to learn more about the history of the cave and its discovery.

Cosquer Méditerranée on the J4 esplanade.

- © ldgfr photos / Shutterstock
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The history of the Cosquer cave

In 1985, Henri Cosquer, a diver by trade, heard about a cave in the Calanque de la Triperie that had never been explored by man. He eventually found the entrance to the cave at a depth of 37 metres and ventured inside. He was amazed to discover that the walls of the cave were covered with cave paintings! We now know that the cave was used more than 30,000 years before our era and for almost 10,000 years afterwards.

La Triperie cove, home to the Cosquer cave.

- © JeanLucIchard / Shutterstock

At the time, the level of the Mediterranean was much lower and the entrance to the opening had not yet been submerged. In all, hundreds of prehistoric drawings adorn the Cosquer cave, named after its first explorer. Unfortunately, this Mecca of Palaeolithic cave art is under serious threat from rising water levels.

Why visit Cosquer Méditerranée?

In 2019, it has been decided to recreate the Cosquer cave in Marseille to showcase this unique prehistoric heritage, which is unfortunately not accessible to the public due to the difficulty of access. It will also provide information about our Upper Palaeolithic ancestors and raise awareness of climate change and rising sea levels.

Des peintures rupestres.

- © thipjang / Shutterstock

On arrival, visitors descend below sea level in a lift that simulates a diving chamber, before boarding self-contained modules in groups of six that move very slowly through the cave. Accompanied by an audio guide, you'll discover 480 brilliantly reproduced cave paintings and engravings, speleothems and other geological wonders.

After visiting the reconstruction of the Cosquer cave, it's time to head to the amphitheatre to watch a documentary retracing the story of Henri Cosquer's discovery of the cave. The Cassidain diving centre has a display of the diving equipment used when the cave was first explored.

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Book your ticket for Cosquer Méditerranée

Discover all the treasures of this submerged cave on an immersive tour.
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Finally, the Mediterranean gallery provides information about the people who have lived in this cave and their relationship with the world, animals and the sea. There are life-size reproductions of animals living in the calanques during the Ice Age, a reconstruction of a pregnant Sapiens woman, and documentary videos on history, climate and rising sea levels.

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Practical information for Cosquer Méditerranée

A newcomer to the Marseilles scene, there's no doubt that Cosquer Méditerranée will quickly establish itself as one of the city's must-see attractions. Allow around two hours for the visit, including a 35-minute tour of the cave.

📍 How do I get to Cosquer Méditerranée?

Right next to the Old Port, Cosquer Méditerranée is easily accessible on foot from the city centre. It is about a ten-minute walk from Joliette (metro 2) and Vieux-Port (metro 1) stations. Trams T1 and T2 stop at République-Dames and Joliette within a few minutes' walk. Bus routes 60, 82 and 82s stop at Littoral Major and Fort Saint-Jean, while route 49 stops at église Saint-Laurent, Littoral Major and Fort Saint-Jean.

Cosquer Méditerranée.

- © ldgfr photos / Shutterstock

⏰ Opening hours of Cosquer Méditerranée

Cosquer Méditerranée is open every day of the year. Opening times vary according to the season: 9am to 9pm in summer, 9.30am to 7.30pm in autumn and spring and 10am to 6.30pm in winter. For detailed timetables, visit the official Cosquer Méditerranée diary.

👛 Cosquer Méditerranée prices

  • Full price: €16
  • Under 18s: €10
  • Under 10s: €5
  • Under 6s: free

To book your ticket online, go directly to the official Cosquer Méditerranée website.

A few tips for your visit

  • For reasons of safety and comfort, children under the age of 3 are not allowed to enter the cave. The other areas are suitable for younger visitors.
  • Pushchairs, bulky items, luggage and helmets are not permitted, but a free cloakroom is available.
  • A catering area is available on site.
  • Access to the restoration of the cave is only available to people who are able to stand up unaided and get into a small wagon. The rest of Cosquer Méditerranée is fully accessible to PRMs.
by Jude JONES
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