A son et lumière masterpiece takes place each year at the incredible Palais des Papes, in Avignon, Provence, once the home of Popes. Throughout the summer as night falls and the hot air cools, the palace is festooned in a riot of colour as if daubed with a magic paintbrush. Music booms across the magnificent courtyard as the history of this incomparable palace is told in English and in French in the most exquisite festival of sound and light.
Palais des Papes
700 years ago, Avignon was home to immensely powerful, incredibly wealthy Popes, they created the “other Vatican” to appease the French King. These break away Popes established what is arguably the greatest gothic palace ever built and during the years 1309-1377, seven successive popes lived there before the Papal court went back to Rome.
Their legacy is a magnificent building which covers a mind-boggling 2.6 acres, more than twice the size of a football pitch, and today it is a tourist magnet that leaves visitors stunned by its gothic beauty and sheer vastness. As you wander the winding, narrow streets of this Provencal town to have the Palace suddenly loom in front of you, the enormousness of it takes your breath away.
Most incredible son et lumière show
It’s at night in the summer though that the Palace of the Popes really comes into its own. When the past casts a rainbow of light in the present and the sumptuous son et lumière show bursts into life.
Les Luminessences d’Avignon as it’s known in French is a tour de force. A 360 degree show that lights up the walls and fills the Honour Courtyard of the palace with sumptuous colours as the history of the building is revealed. To experience the show is to feel as if you have been magically transported into a Disney film, you don’t just see and hear the story, you feel it. The effect of the cutting edge light show is incomparable, it’s like no other I’ve ever seen even in a land where the French are the masters of the son et lumière technique.
Giant figures portrayed on the walls, which seem to throb; the palette of colour is jewel-like. The 3D effect and fabulous high-resolution imagery leave you with the feeling you are a part of the story, as the Palace comes to life all around you.
The role of the UNESCO listed Palais des Popes has played a major part in European history and the story tells of its turbulent history… but it wouldn’t be fair of me to tell you all the story would it – you’ll have to go and see if for yourself. This is one event that really lives up to the hype and if you go to Avignon and miss the opportunity to enjoy this breath-taking show, you’ll really be missing out, in fact it’s worth going for this one thing alone.
Just check out the little video snippet below for a peek into just how awesome this festival of light and sound really is:
Les Luminessences d’Avignon Show Times
This extraordinary show takes place every night from August – September.