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Inspiring Life & Travel in France

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Inspiring Life & Travel in France

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French Light Show

Techno-Fabulous French Light Show: Carrières de Lumières

If you haven’t seen a techno-fabulous French light show, you’re in for a treat. The French take lights and action to new dimensions: music, drama, and imagination.

French Light Show: Carrières de Lumières

A recent visit to Carrières de Lumières was my third experience with the digital, immersive events staged in a former bauxite mine outside the village Les Baux de Provence. This year’s exhibition was “Picasso and the Spanish Masters” and a pop culture show, “Flower Power.” Believe me, the photos don’t do justice to the actual events.

First, let me set the stage. When you enter the Carrières de Luminère, you think you are walking into a movie theatre. Except that it’s built into the side of a mountain. You can go directly into the theatre area or walk around the inside of the cavernous halls of the mine. I would suggest you do the latter sometime during your visit. Walls of bauxite surround you, almost as wide and high as you can see.

Once you enter the theatre area, be prepared to gasp. It’s ginormous! Every surface, except the floor, is a projection area. Art images are stretched across huge canvases of stone in front of you, behind you, and around every corner. The experience is totally surreal.

French Light Show

Added to the impact, the colossal space is cool and mostly dark. The room has no lighting except for the light that reflects from the art. When the scenery changes, you stumble around in near-darkness until the following images appear. If you’re unsure of your footing, you might want to sit on the stone steps around various places.

Take along a sweater or wrap. It’s freezing inside. If you forget one, you can buy a fleece blanket at the admission office for €5. No kidding!

Before Carrières de Lumières

In 1821, French geologists discovered bauxite near the village of Les Baux. During the 19th century, a great demand was for a construction-worthy white stone. The mine in Les Baux prospered. Later, with the advent of more modern building materials, the need for stone fell, and in 1935, the quarry closed.

The abandoned quarry was repurposed in the 1960s as a movie set by French filmmaker Jean Cocteau. His film, Le Testament d’Orphée (The Testament of Orpheus), featured an appearance by Picasso, of all people! as well as Spanish matador Luis Miguel Dominguín. 

Carrières de Luminères took on its current form and purpose in 2012 with the digital audiovisual production “Gauguin, Van Gogh, the Painters of Color.”

Carrières de Lumières 2018: Picasso and the Spanish Masters

“Picasso and the Spanish Masters”  is divided into two parts: one, to explore Picasso’s Spanish origins, and two, to show how Picasso, inspired by the masters, shattered traditional figurative art. Portraits and scenes of daily Spanish life painted by Goya, Rusiñol, Zuloaga, and Sorolla appear in the first part of the presentation. Picasso’s work dominates the show’s second part with a near-chronology of his life and art forms. Never before, and perhaps never again, will the public be shown such an emotion-filled demonstration of Picasso’s life and works. Through the images displayed on the massive walls, emphasized by a dramatic, musical soundtrack, we pass through history and the tumultuous life of one of the world’s greatest modern artists.

Carrières de Lumières 2018: Pop Culture: Flower Power

Remember the psychedelic visuals, colors, and music of the ’60s? The “Flower Power” exhibition that follows immediately after Picasso takes you back to the hippy generation. The bright and lively show was not only fun to watch, but the tunes of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Beach Boys also had me dancing in the dark.

French Light Show: Carrières de Lumières

Important! The best time to visit Carrières de Lumières is in the morning. Drive towards the entrance to the historic town of Les Baux. Just follow the signs. If you arrive early, you’ll quickly find a parking spot. If you’re late, it’ll be a nightmare.

The production is repeated throughout the day and lasts less than an hour. You can stay to watch as long as you’d like.

For Practical Information

Here are some images from the show.

Scenes below are from Carrières de Lumières 2016 – Dreams of a Summer Night – Chagall 

Photos courtesy of mon fils, Pete Bine.



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