This article on the Cathedral d' Images was contributed by Beyond reader Jean Wright, July 2006.
Also beyond the ordinary is the Cathedral d' Images, a remarkable venue which should really not be missed while you are visiting Les Baux. Indeed it is such an incredible and unusual experience it is worth visiting for its own sake. Situated along the D27 some 500m north of the village, beyond the pay-parking, it is housed in a group of the gigantic limestone quarries in the cliff face (from which the huge rectangular blocks used in the village were hewn).
The entrance is daunting and imposing in its cavernous aspect. Once you have passed the ticket booth (from where you can borrow shawls if you do not have a warm top with you!) you may have a sensation of being swallowed up as you make your way inside. The air temperature soon strikes as chilly and the dimness can initially be unnerving. Take time to allow your eyes to adjust as you venture further in, following the gentle strains of beautiful music floating on the air.
As the chill, the darkness and the music increase a final colossal column offers up the amazing sensation, which is the Cathedral d' Images ... an awe-inspiring concept!
This is a feast of gigantic images projected onto the walls, columns, roof and floor, in and around the inter-connecting vast galleries. The stunning slide-show images are a constantly changing 3D effect accompanied by beautiful, moving music. The overwhelming impact is of wonder and enchantment, the experience mesmerizing, enhanced by the belief that you are cocooned, almost on your own.
The original concept was the inspiration of the French photographer Albert Plecy, who established his research centre in the quarries to support his work and his vision. Directors Gianfranco Iannuzzi and Renato Gatto now continue this legacy. The theme of the show is changed annually, a time scale appreciated when you experience the production! The present theme, Cezanne's Colours, is a linked tribute to the centenary celebrations of the artist's life and work in the Provencal region this year. Previous themes have included Images from the Rain Forest, a Tribute to World Religions, French Cathedrals and the Work of Van Gogh. However inspiring the theme, it is only enhanced by the visual and auditory treatment which is the signature of the Cathedral d' Images.
Treat yourself! Do not become one of those visitors to the area who unknowingly drives past this unique venue and misses out on a remarkable experience.
This article is copyrighted by Jean Wright.
Page copyrighted by Russ Collins, www.beyond.fr.
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Total 3-dimensional images: walls, ceilings, floors, screens.
Location: In the Sarragan quarries of Val d'Enver (Hell Valley), 500 m north of the village.
Tel: 0490 543 865