December 10, 2016 / 6:59 PM / 10 months ago

France's Hollande opens replica of Lascaux prehistoric art caves

MONTIGNAC, France (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande on Saturday opened a new replica of the famous Lascaux caves where prehistoric hunters painted hundreds of images of animals like aurochs, horses and deer on the cave walls.

French President Francois Hollande visits Lascaux 4, a new complete replica of the original prehistoric painted caves, in Lascaux, France, December 10, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Pool

Discovered by four teenagers in 1940, the rock displays in southwestern France are some of the richest collection of paintings from the Paleolithic era, and one of the most important archeological finds of the 20th century.

The caves were closed to the public in 1963 in order to preserve the paintings. There have been several earlier replicas built, but smaller and with less detail.

The new replica, which cost 66 million euros ($70 million), is housed in a new building at the foot of the hill in the Dordogne region where the original paintings are. Authorities expect some 400,000 visitors per year.

($1 = 0.9471 euros)

Reporting by Claude Canellas; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Ros Russell

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