In peak season, Les Baux is a tourist mecca, with day-trippers coming to explore the ruins. If you’re lucky, you may happen upon colorful medieval re-enactments complete with costumed knights jousting on horse back, and medieval maidens in colorful garb.
Check out the medieval catapults!
Leave it to the French to create a museum where the less imaginative of us would only see an abandoned limestone quarry. The “museum” was an active quarry until the mid-1900s, as you can see the worker in this photo scoring the stone in preparation for harvest and removal.
If you visit in the summer, you leave the blazing sun and bright white light of the Provencal countryside, and enter into a dark, cool, cave. You are enveloped by the darkness, and the cave’s sharp contrast to your senses can be unnerving at first, as your eyes try to adjust to the light. You stumble around a bit, trying to get your bearings, hoping here is a handrail. But then, you hear the strains of the beautiful music, and off in the distance, the huge, colorful images come into view.
Visiting the cave was an extraordinary, life-changing experience for me, as I looked around at the moving, visual feast. The image below ( from my visit in 2009) is projected on a wall about 20 ft. high. Look closely and you can see the score marks in Vincent's "Starry, Starry, Night".
Words fail me as I try to describe the experience, so I will point you to an article Jean Wright has written for Beyond France website to describe the masterpiece that is
Carrières de Lumières http://www.beyond.fr/sites/cathedralimages.html
This has to be in one of those “Hundred Places to See Before You Die” books. If not, I’ll have to start my own list! C’est magnifique.
Photo credits: Rolf Sussbrich-Les Baux Village and Patrick Giraud/catapults, from Wikimedia Commons with attribution license