Lonely Planet Writer

France unveils incredible replica of the ancient Lascaux Cave featuring hand painted illustrations

A stunning replica of the Lascaux Cave has been unveiled in France, complete with detailed hand-painted copies of the original prehistoric illustrations.

The cave paintings were recreated by a team of 29 highly-skilled artists.
The cave paintings were recreated by a team of 29 highly skilled artists. Image by Projet Lascaux
Throughout their journey, guests to the centre are treated to multi-sensory displays designed to take them on a journey.
Throughout their journey, guests to the centre are treated to multi-sensory displays designed to take them on a journey. Image by Projet Lascaux

Discovered in 1940 by four teenagers, the original Lascaux Cave is located in the town of Montignac-sur-Vézère in the Dordogne, at the foot of the Lascaux hill. As one of the most prestigious archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, the cave went on to become a hugely popular tourist attraction before being closed in 1963 due to the degradation of the paintings caused by the presence of the millions of visitors passing through over the years. The new replica, called Lascaux 4, is the fourth and most complete duplication of the ancient art to be unveiled so far and is now on display in a specially built multi-sensory experience in the International Cave Painting Centre beside the original site.

The original lascaux paintings were discovered in 1940 by a group of teenagers.
The original Lascaux paintings were discovered in 1940 by a group of teenagers. Image by Projet Lascaux
As well as expertly recreated illustrations, the experience mimics the conditions of the original cave for visitors.
As well as expertly recreated illustrations, the experience mimics the conditions of the original cave for visitors.

The International Cave Painting Centre combines accurate artist’s recreations with a scientific approach to showcasing the illustrations, with visitors passing through in groups of 30 through an immersive room designed to mimic the atmosphere, temperature, light, sounds and humidity of the original cave. In low season, it is possible for visitors to experience the exhibition by torchlight. After exiting the replica, guests can visit a display featuring virtual imaging technologies to experience a multi-sensory journey to learn more our ancestors from 20,000 years ago. Following that, guests pass through a series of small theatres designed to make them feel like they are travelling through time from 1879 to today, with a scripted show and interactive displays designed to make the experience authentic.

The Dordogne Valley in the south west of France.
The Dordogne Valley in the south west of France. Image by Projet Lascaux
The International Cave Painting Centre combines accurate artist’s recreations with a scientific approach to showcasing the illustrations.
The International Cave Painting Centre combines accurate artist’s recreations with a scientific approach to showcasing the illustrations. Image by Projet Lascaux

Finally, visitors experience a special 3D movie that showcases the architecture and structure of the cave that they just passed through. A team of 29 people, including fine art painters, sculptors, moulders, locksmiths and welders were called in order to recreate the beauty and detail of the original cave illustrations. Lascaux 4 is open now, with more information on visiting available at the website.