Now, here’s an object lesson in how to put an old, disused bauxite mine to good use – in the unlikely event that you happen to have a suitable old, disused bauxite mine lurking about, of course.
As it happens, there are a few old, disused bauxite mines in the so-called val d’infer [hell’s valley] just below Les Baux de Provence. From these mines, huge blocks were cut and processed for the bauxite, whatever that might be. 🙂 What was left behind was a series of vast caverns with near flat, light coloured walls such as those in this picture.
Being fans of the son et lumières [sound and light] entertainment form, the French came up with a spectacular ways to put these caverns to good use. The light coloured, near flat, massive walls make a natural series of projection screens. Accompanied by music, multiple projectors cover the walls with projected art works and moving pictures. We witnessed version 1.0 of this entertainment form some years ago, Cathédrale des Images, a Pablo Picasso display. That spectacle, regrettably, was shut down because of some modern health and safety nonsense. Fortunately, version 2.0, Carrières de Lumières, has now opened and we went along to see the “Klimt et Vienne” [Klimt and Vienna – whoever Klimt was] show.
I have to say that Version 2.0 outshone Version 1.0 [pun intended]. Clearly Herr Klimt was some artist – I’m a self-confessed artistic numbskull so how would I know. Klimt images were interleaved with scenes of Vienna accompanied by suitably chosen music. I even came out humming some. I felt I needed Chief Inspector Morse to tell me what operatic creation I had been listening to.
Having seen the blank walls of the bauxite cavern above, my inadequate vocabulary cannot possibly describe the transformation made by the myriad projectors so here’s a few images which will hopefully do the job. Do take note of the people in the images to get a true sense of scale.
I am not easily impressed but this place and entertainment form impresses me. This is worth a detour to see. This is somewhere we would always go almost whatever is on. The spectacle is simply breath-taking.
We needed an impressive dinner to follow that and the local Spar supermarket happened to be selling some faux-fillet [sirloin steak] of taureau de Camargue [Camargue bull]. My count of tasty instances of beef in France is now three. Tasty it was, though it had obviously been running around a little and was not the tenderest of steaks in the world. Still, it was a bull. [Note the patriotic table cloth for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.]