The Carrières de Lumières, or Quarries of Light, is a magical space in a vast cave- like quarry at the base of the hilltop village of Les-Baux-de-Provence. In the cool darkness, 100 video projectors and 27 speakers choreograph 2,000 images over an area of 23,000 sq m, including the walls, ceiling and ﬂoor. The sound-and-light show changes annually, and is one of Provence’s most popular sites, attracting roughly 2.5 million visitors since opening in 2012.
The 2018 show — Picasso and the Spanish Masters — runs until 6 January, 2019. It lasts 32 minutes on a continuous loop and traces a century of modern Spanish painting, highlighting the works of Goya, Rusiñol, Zuloaga, Sorolla and Picasso. The soundtrack blends Beethoven, Bizet and Debussy with Glenn Miller, Keith Jarrett, Otis Redding and more.
Alternating with the Picasso show is a short nine-minute programme called Flower Power, celebrating 1960s pop culture with music by Jimmy Hendrix, the Stones, the Beatles and the Beach Boys, among others.
Once again this summer, ten special evenings called Les Intégrales des Carrières will feature the last three shows — Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael: Giants of the Renaissance (2015), Chagall: Midsummer Night’s Dreams (2016) and Bosch, Brueghel, Arcimboldo: Fantastique et Merveilleux (2017). Held on July 23, 24 and 25, August 6, 7 and 8, and September 14, 15, 21 and 22, tickets are €24.
The Carrières de Lumières are located in the Val d’Enfer, a stone’s throw from the hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence. The quarries originally produced white limestone, used in the construction of the village and its château. In 1821, bauxite aluminum ore was discovered by geologist Pierre Berthier, who named it after the village. In 1935, economic competition from modern materials led to the quarries’ closure. Dramatic and otherworldly looking, the area has inspired artists of all sorts; it provided the setting for Dante’s Divine Comedy and Gounod created his opera Mireille here. Later, Cocteau came to ﬁlm The Testament of Orpheus in these very quarries.
Formerly known as the Cathédrale des Images, the quarry was closed in 2011 and re-opened (after a €2 million re- do) as the Carrières de Lumières the following year, under the management of Culturespaces, the leading private organisation managing French monuments and museums.
Carrières de Lumières
Route de Maillane
13520 Les Baux de Provence
Tickets are €12.50 per adult, children under 7 are free.