Carrières de Lumières - A place of history

Carrières
de Lumières

A place of history

Now a major venue in Provence, the Carrières de Lumières site is located at the foot of the village of Les Baux-de-Provence, in the heart of the Alpilles, in a place filled with mystery: the Val d’Enfer. 

-2000 The formation of stone at Les Baux

-2000

The formation of stone at Les Baux

Also known as the ‘stone of the south’, Les Baux stone is a slightly calcareous limestone, fine-grained, and usually white or blonde in colour.

-2000 The formation of stone at Les Baux

The area’s characteristically white limestone blocks are easily worked and were used to build Glanum, the medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence, and for the construction of the Castle of Les Baux. It results from the compaction of calcium carbonate on calcareous sand. Marine fossils have been found in the rock.

1800 Opening of the quarry at Les Grand Fonds

1800

Opening of the quarry at Les Grand Fonds

Industrial developments led to the construction of many buildings, which required large quantities of stone.  

1800 Opening of the quarry at Les Grand Fonds

Fontvieille, the neighbouring village to Les Baux benefitted greatly from the growing demand for stone at this time, as its white stone was said to be of better quality than Les Baux stone. However, the number of quarries in operation in Les Baux at this time attest to the town’s increased production. One such quarry was Les Grands Fonds, known today as Les Carrières de Lumières. 

In 1821, a red mineral was discovered in the quarries. It was used for the extraction of aluminium and named bauxite after the name of the neighbouring commune of Les Baux-de-Provence.

1935 The closure of the quarry

1935

The closure of the quarry

Following the First World War, the demand for stone for construction purposes declined.

1935 The closure of the quarry

New building materials such as steel and concrete emerged... More economical than stone, these new materials threatened the future of stone quarries. The quarry was eventually forced to close.

1959 A new artistic vocation

1959

A new artistic vocation

Carrières were the muse, decor, inspiration, and setting for their creative works. Dante saw the site as the ideal setting for the plot of his Divine Comedy and it was here that Gounod created his opera Mireille.

1959 A new artistic vocation

In 1959, Jean Cocteau decided to film The Testament of Orpheus on the site. Entranced by the beauty of the place and the surrounding environment, The Testament of Orpheus is a poetic ‘escapade’, at the centre of Cocteau’s thinking, between a dreamlike world and somnolence.

The site was further transformed through the creation of a new project inspired by the ideas of Joseph Svoboda, scenographer of the second half of the 20th century. This project was designed to enhance the space: it was decided that the huge rock walls of the quarry would form the backdrop for a sound and light show.

2012 Culturespaces delegatee of the site

2012

Culturespaces, delegatee of the site

The town of Baux-de-Provence entrusted Culturespaces with the management of the quarry, as part of a public service concession agreement.

2012 Culturespaces delegatee of the site

Named ‘Les Carrières de Lumières’, Culturespaces has developed a unique and innovative concept for the site: AMIEX® (Art & Music Immersive Experience). Les Carrières de Lumières opened in March with the exhibition "Gauguin, Van Gogh: Painters in Colour", directed by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi.

Since 2012

Since 2012

Every year, since opening, the Carrières de Lumières holds an immersive digital exhibition devoted to a major artist, produced by Culturespaces and directed by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi.

Since 2012

2013

Monet, Renoir… Chagall. Journeys around the Mediterranean

2014

Klimt and Vienna

2015

Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci, Raphael: The Giants of the Renaissance

2016

Chagall, Midsummer Night's Dreams

2017

The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel, Arcimboldo

2018

Picasso and the Spanish Masters

2019

Van Gogh, Starry Night

2020

Dalí, the endless enigma