We had a choice of two excursions for our morning in Arles. They were a difficult choice and in fact, I did change my mind. On the AMA Waterways cruises, our choice was either Les Baux and the Olive Farm or Artist Experience.
I had been advised by William, our tour guide from the day before that we did not want to miss the Artist Experience. We drove by the site where this excursion was to take place and it was in a limestone quarry. William wouldn’t tell us anything about this, he wanted us to be surprised.
SPOILER ALERT – I am going to talk about this excursion and if you do not want to know about it, you need to stop reading NOW.
We really did not know what to expect. Our bus took us to les Carrières de Lumières – an exhibition of some of the work of Marc Chagall. We walked into a large cavernous dark area – think of a gigantic , wide open cave. At first it was a little disconcerting as I wasn’t sure if the floor was level or not. Once my eyes got adjusted to the dark, I felt more comfortable. All around us, on all different wall surfaces, ceiling and the floor was works of Marc Chagall in a multimedia show. Some of it was animated, some not but it all seemed to move seamlessly from one picture to another. It was an overwhelming sense of color and movement. We didn’t quite know where to look as many of the “walls” had different scenes than other walls.
We were able to walk around the inside of this quarry viewing different scenes on every surface. There were, we were told, over 100 video projectors and about 30 audio speakers playing a soundtrack specifically chosen to complement what we were seeing.
Most of the artist’s best known masterpieces have been digitized and are screened on the quarry’s walls. This exhibition is called “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and it is in twelve parts and it includes Vitebsk (Chagall’s home town), Life, Poetry, Collages, The War, Stained Glass, The Opéra Garnier, Daphnis and Chloé, Mosaics, The Circus, Illustrations and The Bible showcasing his creativity and many of his sources of inspiration. These themes are displayed here at the Lumieres in all their vibrant colors. A beautiful backdrop for his paintings.
If you are in this area, about 15 miles north of Arles, please stop in. You may not see Marc Chagall’s paintings as they choose a different artist or artists each year. Last year, there were over a half million visitors coming here to see the works of Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Raphael in the Giants of the Renaissance. I have no idea who the artist or artists will be next year.No matter which artist they choose, it truly is an experience. If you are on a river cruise, this will be one of your choices for an excursion and I cannot stress enough that you should choose this as your excursion.
Enjoy the rest of our photographs.