Carrieres de Lumieres is a venue unlike any other for viewing a dazzling sound and light display.
The sound and light show in Les Baux-de-Provence is housed in an old bauxite quarry called Carrieres de Lumieres (loosely translated as Quarry of Light).
When the attraction opened in 2012, it was visited by some 239,000 visitors. Today, nearly 770,000 people come every year to immerse themselves in art and music in this rarefied setting.
In 2017, the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA)selected Carrieres des Lumieres as the best immersive experience in the world.
The venue is a cross between museum and theater with shows that changes throughout the year. These shows feature digitial, immersive and contemporary exhibitions.
Our visit to Les Baux-de-Provence
When we visited, the 40-minute Monet, Renoir…Chagall: Journeys around the Mediterranean installation was running.
As we entered the cavernous space carved into the hillside, our eyes adjusted slowly to the darkness. One hundred projectors displayed 3000 images covering 50 years of work by 16 French artists; ranging from impressionism, to Fauvism, to contemporary pieces—all related to the theme of the Mediterranean coast. The multimedia production was accompanied by classical and contemporary music.
The works at this “multiplex” aren’t projected onto conventional screens. Instead, they cover the quarry walls at heights of more than 45 feet from ground to ceiling. LED technology makes the walls come alive with the illusion of movement.
There are no seats, per se. Visitors walk around, viewing the changing images from different vantage points as their own shadows are eerily cast on the paintings. The venue will dazzle children as well as adults.
Sitting on a few concrete slabs around the perimeter, some visitors huddle together for warmth. Others sit atop a carpet of landscapes and seascapes projected on the ground, with their children dancing beside them.
The quarry stands at the bottom of a narrow winding road leading up to a little village considered one of the most beautiful in France: Les Baux-de-Provence. Nestled in Provence’s Alpilles mountain range, it is a ten-minute walk from the quarry.
Visitors can explore the ruins of the old castle fortress (Chateaux de Baux) and church that dominated the region for centuries. Now, only twenty-two residents live in the picturesque village but its stone buildings have been beautifully restored.
Tourists from all over the world arrive by car or bus to browse the art galleries and shops, eat at cafes, and to soak in the spectacular views of the lavender-filled plains below.
IF YOU GO
- Carrieres de Lumieres
- Les Baux-de-Provence
- Discover Les Baux-de-Provence
- Tips for Renting a Car in Provence
Carrieres de Lumieres, in Les Baux-de-Provence is open every day (Hours change seasonally).
By road: motorway A7 (exit Avignon), A9 (Nîmes) and A54 (Baux-de-Provence); By train: Aix-en-Provence and Avignon TGV stations.
Headed to Provence? Here are some suggested things to do in Provence.
[A version of the article appeared in the Sunday travel section of the Chicago Tribune.
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