Carrières de Lumières
Reason #1: Carrières de Lumières – a fantastical place where the greatest paintings come to life. The moment you step through the door, you literally walk into art. Drifting through the vast spaces of Carrières to beautiful sounds of music, the famous masterpieces immerse and cocoon you in the experience. You may be looking at a painting a hundredth time, but you are perceiving it entirely differently.
What makes the place even more special is the unusual venue – old limestone quarry, extending over 4000 m2. The huge media show makes use of all the walls, floors and ceilings across several chambers. It lasts about an hour, giving you time to wander and explore at your own pace. We loved it so much though, we lingered for another hour and watched the show twice in a row. The exhibition changes every season, making you want to come back for more.
Carrières is a great place to introduce kids to art, and if they happen to be hanging on masterpieces or bouncing off the walls, don’t sweat it – this establishment can actually handle it!!
Château des Baux, perched on a vertical cliff of Les Baux de Provence, is another great reason to visit. Although much of the 10th century castle lies in ruin, it is still an impressive site, and the village does a remarkable job of recreating its former image with visual explanations and excellent audio guides.
Regardless of whether you are militarily inclined, you’ll probably be fascinated by the gigantic medieval war machines. You can actually learn to operate the monstrous catapults and shoot crossbows into the dry moat outside the castle walls. Kids will love hands-on activities, performances and historical reenactments at the château.
The rocky outcrop of the castle is an attraction in itself. It has lured humans as early as 6000 BC, and it continues to do so today. You may be less concerned with its strategic location, but you’ll appreciate the incredible views over the village and the Alpilles just the same.
Named one of France’s most beautiful*, the village in itself is a perfect reason to pay Les Baux de Provence a visit. Although it has only about 400 residents, it attracts 1.5 million visitors each year. Les Baux brims with history and has plenty to offer apart from Carrières and the castle. Visit the heritage sites, shop in tiny boutiques, check out art galleries, sample olive oil from the Valley of Les Baux, and dine at the legendary L’Oustau de Baumanière. If you are visiting with kids, don’t miss a treasure hunt organized by the Tourist Office; they’ll have a ball looking for hidden gems around the village.
* Les Plus Beaux Villages de France is an independent association that selects rural villages with a rich cultural heritage to promote tourism.