Chateau Les BauxAs we approached the commune of les Baux, we were surrounded by groves of olive trees. Then the Alpilles mountains rose suddenly and sheerly from the Rhone valley. Les Baux was above us, insisting that we park at the bottom and walk up for lunch. This village perche sits atop an outcrop of the Alpilles with a ruined chateau at the apex and overlooking the plains. It has been named one of the most beautiful villages in France. It seems to exist for the sole purpose of tourism with cute little shops and restaurants occupying the ancient spaces. There are only 22 residents in the village today. But, habitation dates back to 6000 BC. There was a defensive stronghold at the ruins of the Chateau des Baux at the top of the village where reproductions of a trebuchet and ballista can be seen.
Carrieres de Lumieres
Very near Les Baux are the remains of limestone quarries. Within one of the quarries is the Carrieres de Lumieres, a permanent art show in which large bright images are projected on the stone walls of huge galleries dug into the rock. The galleries use spaces that were once a limestone quarry. One is completely immersed in the paintings of Bosch, Bruegel and Arcimboldo which are projected onto the walls of the quarry. It is dark as a cave when one first enters. Your eyes become adjusted as the show begins and you realize you are in a vast, vast space with images projected and enlarged thousands of time. The paintings are somewhat animated a la Ken Burns and projected onto the floors, walls and ceilings of the rooms which feed one into another. I'm guessing that the height of the space is about 50' -75'. There are some pictures with people that can give a scale.
Pictures that do not do justice can be seen at flickr. Video at YouTube.
Apero with Copper at le Verdun
Yesterday we met up with some friends, Copper and John, who live in western Mass and also own an apartment here in Aix. We met for an apero at le Verdun near our apartment. It was a fun 2 hours talking about art and the local area. (Only briefly did we lament the political state of the USA). We got some great advice from them to visit the Carrieres and places to come.