The popular son et lumière show at the Cathedral of Images near Les Baux de Provence has relaunched with a new name, the Quarries of Lights (Carrières de Lumières).
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The concept remains the same, however. This extraordinary site was once a bauxite quarry in the bowels of the awe-inspiring landscapes of the "Valley of Hell" that once inspired such great artists as Dante, Gounod and Cocteau.
The quarry has now become the backdrop to a breathtaking show that projects multiple images - 3,000 of them in the course of the 35 minute spectacle - on its ceiling, floor and huge rock walls, some of them as high as those of Notre Dame de Paris. New projection facilities have been installed to enhance the experience and each spectacle is accompanied by a specially chosen music track.
The aim is not to reproduce a faint imitation to a museum or gallery but to immerse visitors in a multi-media show where they walk around amongst, and virtually within, the artworks. It's an impressive and memorable experience. Click here to read an interview with Gianfranco Iannuzzi who, with his team, creates it.
The spectacle changes every year. Our gallery above features images from the 2015 show, Giants of the Renaissance (no. 2); the 2014 show, Klimt and Vienna - A Century of Gold and Colours (nos 3 and 4); the 2013 show, Monet, Renoir... Chagall. Journeys around the Mediterranean (no. 5); the 2012 show Gauguin, Van Gogh, Painters of Colour (nos 6 and 7); and the accompanying short film that year, Metamorphosis, an impressionistic evocation of the natural world (nos 8 and 9). All images © G. Iannuzzi and M. Siccardi, except for images 1 and 10 of the Quarries themselves, which are © Culturespaces.
Do you regret not having seen the previous shows at the Quarries of Lights - or would you like to see one of them again? Well there's great news this summer: at the beginning of August, there's a short season reprising the three most recent spectacles, those from 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The programme includes all three shows, starts at 8.30pm and runs all evening, with an intermission. Refreshments will be available too. It's on the 3, 4 and 5 August and costs 19€. You can't reserve ahead but have to buy tickets on the night. You're advised to arrive early for what is certain to be a very popular attraction. Doors open at 7.45pm.
The 2015 show at the Quarries of Lights spotlights Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo, tracing their careers from Milan to Florence, Venice and Rome. It runs until 3 January 2016.
"The period during which these artists evolved is undoubtedly one of the richest in the history of art," Iannuzzi says. "We wanted to dramatise in a sensitive and innovative way this richness, which expressed itself in drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture."
The spectacle is orchestrated around a suite of themes, such as the artists' Madonnas, their portraits at the Italian court, the great sculptures of Michelangelo and Da Vinci's drawings and the masterpieces at the Vatican.
Among the works featured are Da Vinci's The Annunciation, The Last Supper and Mona Lisa (La Gioconda); Raphael's Young Woman with Unicorn and School of Athens; and Michelangelo's Last Judgement and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The accompanying soundtrack includes Bach, Verdi and Barber.
The "main feature" is accompanied by a seven-minute short film: in 2015 this is a homage to the great science fiction writer Jules Verne and is called Le Voyage Imaginaire (The Imaginary Journey).
Note that during the a-part Festival of Contemporary Art in July, the Quarries are sometimes open late on certain evenings to host free avant-garde light shows.
Where: Carrières de Lumières / Quarries of Lights, route de Maillane, 13520 Les Baux de Provence. Tel: (+33) 4 90 54 55 56. Les Baux is 15 km / 9 miles north-east of Arles and 30 km / 18 miles south of Avignon. The entrance to the Quarries is on the road at the foot of the village, 800 metres / half a mile from the Château des Baux. Website for the Quarries of Lights
The Quarries are open every day: April to September, 9.30am-7pm and October to January and March, 10am-6pm.
Each show consists of two films, a short and a "main feature". These last around 40 minutes in total and run on a continuous loop: there is a loose narrative, but you can enter and exit the show at any point, or stay to watch it several times over.
The entrance fee is 10.5 €uros for adults and 8.5 €uros for children aged 7-17, students, teachers and the unemployed (note, however, that tickets are more expensive if booked online).
Entrance is free for children under seven and for the second child after two adult and one child tickets have been paid for. There is also a reduced price combination ticket for the Quarries of Lights and the Château des Baux.