Les Carrières des lumières

The Quarry of Light illuminates the Serenity of Venetian Art at Les Carrières des Lumières


Every year we wait with anticipation to hear which artists will be spotlighted in an immense audiovisual display at Les Carrières de Lumieres, the Quarry of Light. In the past, we have been treated to the Giants of the Renaissance, The Spanish Masters, Van Gogh, Chagall and other titans of art. 

Imagine this: it’s hot outside and you walk through an entrance carved out of stone and enter into a cavern refreshingly dark and cool.

You find yourself inside a mine.  Let’s talk about the scale, this is not the type of mine where Snow White’s seven dwarves worked. We’re talking about Indiana Jones kind of scale.  Yes, that kind of size.  And as you walk into this interior quarry, you find yourself moving through vast spaces where a display of moving artwork is projected everywhere from the towering limestone walls to the floor and the viewer gets transported through time and place along the canals and piazzas as well as the tiny streets and magnificent interiors of Venice.  The experience is always accompanied by a spectacular selection of music. 

This year at Les Carrières de Lumières, the famous underground quarry is once again transformed into a theater of mind-blowing proportions through the wizardry of technology, showing projected masterworks from Venice as well as the work of Yves Klein in Infinite Blue onto its limestone walls. Visitors will wander back through time to marvel at classical artwork and architectural wonders that make Venice a repository of artistic riches and a magnet for artists and art lovers of all kinds. They will explore the countless interiors and exteriors of famous landmarks such as St. Marks Basilica. We will also gaze upon works by beloved Venetian masters like Tintoretto, Bellini and Canaletto. 

Regatta on the Grand Canal by Canaletto
Regatta on the Grand Canal by Canaletto

The Basilica of St. Mark


The history of Venice is as rich as the city is beautiful. When Constantinople, (modern-day Istanbul) the capital of the Byzantine empire, fell in 1204 the empire was divided up between Venice and its allies. Venice as the victor took off with the spoils of artistic antiquity which are now an intrinsic part of the Venetian aesthetic. Even today the influence that was brought back from the East remains part of the Venetian landscape. 

Byzantine art is noted for its stylized and often ornate imagery; mainly religious frescoes and mosaics rather than naturalistic depictions. St. Mark’s Basilica is an incredible example of Byzantine architecture. The outside is magnificent while the interior is adorned with an astonishing amount of gold on and around its five domes.

St Marks Interior

Interior of St. Mark’s Basilica

Tintoretto, Bellini and Canaletto


Other Venetian artists and their masterpieces are included in the show featuring Tintoretto, Bellini and Canaletto. The eldest of these three, Giovanni Bellini known for his sensuous style, his luscious luminous colors and atmospheric landscapes. He had a tremendous influence on Venetian painting.


"The Origin of the Milky Way" by Tintoretto
Madonna and Child with Saints by Giovanni Bellini
St. Mark's Basilica

Left “The Origin of the Milky Way” by Tintoretto, Right Images from Venise, La Sérénissime, Top Right: Madonna and Child with Saints by Giovanni Bellini


Yves Klein and a Blue Obession


In addition to the Venetian focus, Carrières des Lumières routinely presents another shorter video, and this year it is on the French artist Yves Klein.  


Can you imagine being so obsessed with a color that you created a version and named it after yourself? Yves Klein made and named a shade of blue after himself: International Klein Blue or IKB. He became famous for his love of a special ultramarine-like blue. He burst onto the art scene in 1957 with his blue obsession.


Later in his short career, he kept pushing ways of applying paint. After using sponges and pigments, he turned to covering his female models in paint and proceeded to have them lay on his canvas and leave the imprints of their bodies. 


Yves Klein

Yves Klein’s animated artwork inside the Carrières des Lumières

Yves Klein Quote
Yves Klein

Yves Klein’s animated artwork inside the Carrières des Lumières

The Limestone Quarry 


It’s impossible to truly convey the proportions and impact of being inside a limestone mine where the walls are the backdrop to moving images accompanied by an equally inspirational soundtrack.


You are a small body in what feels like an ocean of artwork and light. You don’t just view the works of these masters, you swim in them. The quarry is so large you feel like an ant crawling along a canvas.


The limestone quarry also has a lovely cafe where our group of artists likes to enjoy a nice cafe au lait after watching the show.


Some choose to stay and watch the show another time after the first showing and some like to take in the magnificent scenery of the quarry. You will want to bring your cameras for this view!




Limestone Quarry
The Exterior of the Quarry

We can’t wait to experience this new show with all of you this year! Les Carrières des Lumières is an extrodinary experience, let’s enjoy Venice and the work of Yves Klein. And perhaps a celebratory Bellini as well!


The Bellini cocktail was named in his honor by a bar owner who thought the color of the drink was similar to one of the togas of a saint in a Bellini Painting. The story goes the owner leaned over and pointed to the color of one of Bellini’s painted togas and that is where the name was born. 

 We might even enjoy our own Bellinis on our return from Les Carrières des Lumières back at the Chateau. We can reminisce on the incredible show while we have our own taste of Venice through these delightful and peachy cocktails. 

Limestone Quarry

Blogger: Julie Snyder

Julie Snyder is a professional artist and also the programs director of Workshops In France.  A native of Scotland, she is a seasoned traveler who splits her time between California and France.  You can learn more about her role with Workshops in France here and about her painting on her website.

If you are curious about the other Carrières des Lumières shows  you should read Tech, Art and a Starry Night, and the spectacular Quarry of Light featuring Sorolla, Picasso and the Spanish Masters.

Check out more blogs about art workshops, tips and hacks for artists traveling in France and Scotland.

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