Thursday, February 28, 2013

Monet, Renoir, Les Baux

What used to be the Cathedrale des Images is now the Carrières de Lumières...the Quarries of Light...a magical space in a vast cave-like quarry at the base of the village of Les Baux. And their new sound and light show is about to begin. It's called ''Monet, Renoir...Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean'' and you have almost a year to see it: it runs from March 8, 2013 to January 5, 2014. 

The Cathedrale closed in 2011 and re-opened a year ago, with new management (the folks at Culturespaces) and state-of-the-art technology. Rumor has it that more than €2 million was spent to refurbish the 5000-square-meter site at the time; the last show (''Gauguin, Van Gogh: Painters of Color'') drew great reviews and 239,000 people came to see it. Now, thanks to further improvements done in advance of the new show, close to 100 video projectors will generate the carefully choreographed movement of 3,000 images over an area of more than 7,000 square meters, onto walls as high as 14 meters (45 feet), onto the ceilings and even the floor. 

Here's what Culturespaces says about ''Monet, Renoir...Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean'':

''In the second half of the 19th century, many artists left Paris and the North behind, attracted by the light of the South, setting up their easels between the Spanish border and the Italian Riviera. Their artistic personalities were revealed through the contact with seascapes portraying the Mediterranean coast which they depicted in a wide diversity of styles. After a prologue devoted to Joseph Vernet, visitors will be plunged in seven sequences into the world of the Impressionists, with Monet and Renoir, the Pointillists, with Signac and Cross, the Fauves, with Camoin, Derain, Vlaminck, Friesz, Manguin, Marquet and Valtat, etc....and of course Matisse. You'll also discover the palette of bright colours used by Bonnard and Dufy, ultimately coming to one of the most important colourists of modern art: Chagall. All together you'll see, through dramatic projections, 15 artists' impressions of the Mediterranean and its extraordinary light.'' 

The Carrières de Lumières is located in the Val d’Enfer, a stone's throw from Les Baux. The quarry was created over the years for extracting the white limestone used in the construction of the village of Les Baux and its chateau. In 1935, economic competition from modern materials led to the closure of the quarries. Dramatic and otherworldly looking, the area has inspired artists of all sorts; the Val d'Enfer 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. The Carrières du Val d’Enfer has been awarded Natural Monument status in France. 

The Carrières de Lumières are open every day from 9.30 am to 7 pm (March to September) and from 10 am to 6 pm (October to January).

Carrières de Lumières 
Route de Maillane  
13520 Les Baux de Provence 
Tel. : +33 4 90 54 47 37

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  1. Wow, this will be wonderful, have visited 3 times previously and it is one of the most unknown places to visit. It is stunning, usually fabulous music to accompany the wonderful paintings a real cultural experience I cannot wait !!

  2. Thanks for the info Julie. We went to the Van Gogh/Gauguin show and it blew me away. I find it hard to explain the experience. The combination of the magic of the place, the incredible moving paintings at such a huge scale and beautiful music makes you appreciate the artists even more. At least, that was my experience. Looking forward to seeing the new show!


  3. Wow, aren't I lucky I'll be visiting Saint Remy in August for a few days!

  4. Sound and lights shows are such great events and this one sounds wonderful - already on my calendar to attend!

  5. I was there 2 weeks ago (when they were already closed to public) and the all places was upside down. It looks they keep on working on the place and what I saw from the upcoming show is outstanding. can't wait until March 7th when they'll reopen...

  6. This is great Julie. Will put it on the winter break day trip keep the restless natives occupied list.
    I hope you're doing well.
    Aidan xo

  7. Thank you Julie. The Cathedrale des Images was one of my favorite places to visit (the China exhibit was breathtaking), so I'm happy to know the space is still being utilized in such a creative way. I will tell everyone who is visiting in the coming year not to miss it.

  8. If you haven't visited this remarkable place, do yourself a favor and get there as fast as you can. Wear a jacket as the quarry stays at about 60 degrees year around. Be prepared for an almost religious experience! have been there every year for the last 12 except when it was closed down to redo the facility in 2011. This alons is worth a trip to Provence from anywhere!

  9. I cannot wait to see it! Last year's exhibit was so amazing I am sure this one is breathtaking.

  10. Perfect timeing. We'll be there in May. So nice for the sneak peak.

  11. I'll be there this spring -- thanks for the tip, this is clearly not to be missed.

  12. This is the most amazing show. I was so disappointed that it was closed when I was there in 2011. Now I will get to take my painting group there in May. So excited!

  13. Now I know where to go, while in Luberon this May: -)

    Thank you again!!
    All the best, M.