Let there be light

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - STEVE BAKER

RUN­AWAY BAY, QUEENS­LAND ON a re­cent trip around south­ern France, on one of the roads less trav­elled, we stum­bled across Car­ri­eres de Lu­mieres. This gem of an ex­pe­ri­ence should be on ev­ery trav­eller’s bucket list.

It’s a light-and-sound spec­tac­u­lar based on the paint­ings of Claude Monet, Pierre-Au­guste Renoir and Marc Cha­gall. We may all be used to vis­it­ing gal­leries to see fa­mous works but Car­ri­eres de Lu­mieres presents a very dif­fer­ent way of view­ing art.

The show takes place about 800m from Les Baux, a his­toric hill­top vil­lage in Provence. The site used to be a rock quarry and com­prises about 15 rooms joined by cor­ri­dors. Th­ese are not your usual rooms: they are spa­ces of mas­sive di­men­sions (30m long, 20mwide and 30m high) that have re­mained un­touched since the orig­i­nal quar­ry­ing days. The site was first used for artis­tic pur­poses as a film set by Jean Cocteau, the fa­mous French di­rec­tor.

As we wan­dered freely around, the show be­gan. Light spilled on to the walls, floors and ceil­ings. And with fab­u­lous at­ten­tion to de­tail, the per­spec­tive of the chang­ing im­ages was sim­ply stun­ning. Monet’s Giverny wa­terlilies re­ally seem to come to life at that size. And ac­com­pa­ny­ing the vi­su­als was a top-qual­ity com­pi­la­tion sound­track with contents rang­ing from or­ches­tral mu­sic to New Or­leans-style jazz. The over­all ex­pe­ri­ence was one of be­ing to­tally en­veloped but with com­plete freedom of move­ment.

One small piece of in­trigue that still eludes my part­ner and me is that those watch­ing Car­ri­eres de Lu­mieres seem to be part of the show. Al­though the 30m-high im­ages ob­vi­ously dwarf all vis­i­tors, we ap­peared as sil­hou­et­ted ants within the frames.

None of the im­ages is pro­jected on to the vis­i­tors. We all ap­peared to­tally black. Magic.

The show lasts about 90 min­utes; it is on a con­tin­u­ous loop and pa­trons can re­main as long as they wish. We stayed about three hours and loved it more and more.

This is re­ally a clas­sic ex­pe­ri­ence and an in­stance of new think­ing and tech­nol­ogy be­ing ap­plied in the artis­tic sphere. It re­ally was our best and most un­ex­pected find dur­ing six weeks of tour­ing. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@ theaus­tralian.com.au. Columnists re­ceive an Aubecq fry­pan ($99.99) from the Ever­green Clas­sic range of ce­ramic-based eco-cook­ware with non-stick coat­ing. More: (02) 9662 3450; mor­gan­ware.com.au; pe­ter­sofkens­ing­ton. com.au.

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