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Carrières des Lumières - A place of history

des Lumières

A place of history

Now a major venue in Provence, the Carrières des 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


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


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


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


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


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 des Lumières’, Culturespaces has created a unique and innovative digital art center. Les Carrières des 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 des Lumières holds an immersive digital exhibition devoted to a major artist, produced by Culturespaces Digital®.

Since 2012


Monet, Renoir… Chagall. Journeys around the Mediterranean


Klimt and Vienna


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


Chagall, Midsummer Night's Dreams


The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel, Arcimboldo


Picasso and the Spanish Masters


Van Gogh, Starry Night


Dalí, the endless enigma


Cezanne, Master of Provence


Venice, from Canaletto to Monet


From Vermeer to Van Gogh, the Dutch Masters