Posts Tagged ‘Les Baux de Provence’

Thirty years ago this month, Prince Ranier and Princess Grace visited Les Baux, along with their son Prince Albert who became the Marquis des Baux and was given the keys to the town.

To celebrate this event, the town has put together an exhibition of Paris Match photos of Princess Grace.

Apparently, the Grimaldi family back in 1642 helped Louis XIII beat off the Spanish and were rewarded with Les Baux and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.  The Grimaldis’ palace there was requisitioned during the Revolution but they have kept the titles.  There’s a supplement on this, with photos and info on the life of Princess Grace, in this week’s Paris Match.

The exhibition is being held in various cultural venues in the town, until15th November.

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What an amazing leap of imagination it was for whoever had the brilliant idea of using this abandoned quarry for a son-et-lumière show!

It’s been running for years and the annual themes have been as disparate as Venice, Cézanne and Australia, all illustrated with massively projected images and accompanying music.

Last year it was taken over by Culturespaces and some improvements to the layout have been made – a much smoother floor for instance which is easier when wandering around in the dark.  I also like the new viewing galleries.  However, most of us visiting yesterday felt that, in this year’s show, something had been lost, especially in colour quality. 

This year’s theme celebrates Van Gogh and Gauguin who famously tried to live and work together in nearby Arles.

Gauguin’s work lends itself more easily to this treatment, his large, flat, colourful Breton and Tahitan paintings being particularly impactful.  Van Gogh’s paintings, especially the delicate ones, were lost against these rough-hewn quarry walls. Somehow his wonderful irises became insipid and the glorious sunflowers were underplayed.  And I really didn’t like the music.  But this is such a unique experience that it is worth visiting.  Details on www.carrieres-lumieres.com. 8€.50. Wrap up warm!

Afterwards you can visit the little town of Les Baux where there are many restaurants.  But we drove to nearby Fontvieille to have lunch at La Cuisine au Planet.

It’s tucked away on a side street off a side street, but worth seeking out for the friendly ambiance, the food, and specifically their crême brulée à la lavande.  I had eaten this 6 years ago at this restaurant and never forgotten how good it was!  Luckily it was on the menu yesterday and was just as I remembered – delicious.

144 Grand Rue, Fontvieille, tel:04 90 54 63 97.

More details on cooking with lavender in the next post………..


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The date for the re-opening of the Carrières de Lumières at Les Baux de Provence has been announced: March 30th.

The new show which will run until next January looks magnificent.  Van Gogh dreamed of working  with Gauguin but these two very different artists with such differing temperaments simply couldn’t co-exist; now they are brought together in harmony, close to where they painted over 100 years ago.  The company’s website www.carrieres-lumieres.com has an image gallery to give us a taste of what we can expect and also has full details of opening times and access.

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I was sorry when the Cathédrale d’Images closed last year as it was such a unique place; so happy to read that it is re-opening under new management, Culturespaces, who manage several of France’s museums and estates.  They are currently spending a couple of million euros on state-of- the art effects and also improving visitors’ facilities to include a bookshop, workshop space for visiting schools and, eventually, an exhibition space to complement the light-show.

cathedral dimagesThis takes place in a huge excavated quarry, a massive enclosed space with rough rock walls. On to these, vast images are projected constantly and side-by-side, so the visitor can wander around the cavern wondering at the beautiful, ever-changing and textured pictures on display.  The colours really come alive in this space and the images are accompanied by music to give a multi-sensory experience.   The new name will be Carrières de Lumières.


Next year’s theme which starts in March is to be ‘Gauguin, Van Gogh, Les Peintres de la Coleur’ – doesn’t that sound wonderful?

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The Count and Countess of Provence who lived in Les Baux had 4 beautiful and educated daughters, each of whom married into a European royal family.  Eleanor, only 13, travelled to London to marry King Henry III, a union which proved fruitful (5 children), turbulent (pesky barons denying them money) but long-lasting.

The Queen From Provence by Jean Plaidy is an undemanding blend of drama, history and romance, with frocks and horses and castles…..but, like Philippa Gregory,  the author sticks very carefully to historical facts and you do end up with a good overview of the political issues of the period.  This book is an easy read on a wet day in Provence – now I must tackle her Medici Trilogy and let her lead me through that historical labrynth.


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