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Carrières de Lumières (Quarries of Lights)
in the village of Baux-de-Provence, France
The highlight of our trip so far this year is our visit to Carrières de Lumières in Provence, France.
The main reason for visiting Provence in France was to go to this multimedia exhibition. I’d seen the video on facebook and thought it looked an amazing place to visit. It definitely lived up to my expectations and more.
A few days before the visit, I read up about Van Gough’s life, which gave me a deeper understanding of him as a painter. Then visiting this exhibition and staying in Saint Remy, which inspired so many of his paintings, made the experience even better.
It really is an amazing experience as its interesting to see art can be shown in so many different ways. Art lovers will enjoy it fully, but even if you are not an art lover, you cannot fail to be attracted by the way the show has been created, and the great atmosphere it creates.
What is Carrieres de Lumieres
A five-minute walk from the village of Les-Baux-de-Provence is the monumental Carriers de Lumieres. This extraordinary multimedia show is really quite a unique and powerful experience.
Works of art are projected on to the immense walls, pillars, ceilings and floors of an old disused limestone quarry, which dates back to the early 19th century. Accompanying the video is music, which enhances the experience beautifully. You get completely immersed.
The art comes to life when they use computer techniques to make parts of the paintings move. At one point the blossoms in a Van Gough painting appeared to be blown off the trees! In another, birds were flying across the landscape and another you felt you were in the picture with the rolling waves being portrayed on the wall and floor where an image of the sea is in the painting.
The images move continually floating around on the huge walls and melting into the next painting in extremely vivid colours as timed and co-ordinated music plays in the background to fit each projection. This enhanced the experience beautifully and I got completely immersed feeling the complexity and intensity of Van Gough’s work. The brush strokes came alive as did the layering of paint and colours.
This is not just a large square ‘cave’. There are many adjacent areas which seem to meander to the moving artwork which also goes around corners. We were walking around the vast area not knowing where to look next as its constantly moving and changing
Each year a new show is introduced. Last year and until the end of January 2019 it was Picasso and the Spanish Masters and this year until the end of January 2020 it is Van Gough. The ‘Dreamed Japan” exhibition followed it which was equally as impressive.
The Van Gough experience was 32 minutes, followed by a 12-minute Japanese set connected to the Japanese influence on Van Gough.
- Take something warm to wear as it is cold inside the quarry.
- Try to avoid weekends if you can as it can get extremely busy.
- The best time to visit is either first thing in the morning when they first open up or from about 12 pm to 2 pm when a lot of people are having lunch. This is the time we visited, and we found no queue, but when we came out at 2 pm, there was a long queue starting to form.
- Parking is quite limited. There is a car park directly outside the exhibition, which is free. There is a larger car park a walk away near the village and chateau which has an hourly charge. There is also parking along the road going in and out of the area.
- It is advisable to book online as the queues can get very long and waiting times have been known to be over an hour.
- You can buy a combined ticket with the Castle at Les-Baux-De-Provence.
- There are a few stone benches inside where you can sit to watch the show, although it is better to walk around to get a better experience.
- The shows loop continuously, with a short break between shows when the lights come up. To keep things moving, everyone goes in right after buying their ticket. We found ourselves walking in mid-show which felt like stepping into a kaleidoscope as it was dark, with moving images on the floor, ceiling and walls. If you are a little unsteady on your feet, it would be best to wait for a break. -There is a clock outside which says when the next break is.
- The floor surface is generally pretty even.
- You can stay as long as you want and watch the show more than once.
- There is a café and toilets inside and a souvenir shop as you come through the exit.
- The entrance fee is reasonable at 13 euros each.
We were speechless at the end, unlike anything we have seen before – It was just magical.
If you are visiting Provence, please do not miss this exhibition.
Carrières de Lumières
Route de maillane,
13520 Les Baux de Provence
Tel: +33 4 90 49 20 02
Open every day
January, March, November, December: 10 am – 6 pm
April, May, June, September, October: 9.30 am – 7 pm
July and August: 9.30 am – 7.30 pm
Last admission 1 hour before the Carrieres closes.
The Van Gough Exhibition – Click the photo below to view gallery.
The ‘Dreamed Japan” set. Click the photo below to view the gallery
Where we stayed
We were staying an 18-minute drive away from Carrières de Lumières in Saint Remy at:
There are so many amazing places to visit which sometimes we can’t get to with our motorhome, so we often hire a car for a few days to explore more.
We take out an annual car hire excess insurance with insure4carhire.
RentalCars.com is the company we use if hiring from a campsite but if we are flying into an airport we use Zest Car Hire which usually has the best deals but can only be picked up from an airport or hotel.