In the summer months, many cities in France put on heaps of razzle dazzle with son et lumière shows. Castles, Cathedrals, ancient buildings, beautiful gardens and even small villages light up and show off with sound and light shows to wow.
The concept was invented by a French man, Paul Robert-Houdin, then curator of the magnificent Château de Chambord, Loire, France. In the years since, the practice has spread around the world and in France it’s a hugely popular form of entertainment and often free.
Here are some of our favourite summer son et lumière France shows that we think you’ll love!
Son et Lumière Blois Chateau, Loire Valley
In the spectacular courtyard of this ancient chateau, the buildings are lit up to reveal the story of its dramatic past. Pop on your head phones and listen to tales of love, deception, murder and chivalry (available in English), it runs until late September. See website for details and tickets: www.chateaudeblois.fr
Read more about the magnificent Chateau de Blois in our free magazine The Good Life France
Son et Lumière Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de Loire
Known as La Nuit des Chimères this free event sees the medieval quarter of Le Mans turn into a huge and magnificent light fest through July and August. The cobbled streets and facades of historic monuments are transformed into projection screens when dusk falls and brings the city to life after dark.
Son et Lumière Orléans Cathedral, Normandy
This magnificent cathedral will show images of Joan of Arc, the “Maid of Orléans”. Wonderfully colourful, the show will take place until September 16 at 11pm and 11.30 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from July to August. Pop into the tourist office for more details.
Son et Lumière Palais des Papes, Avignon
A truly sumptuous show with 3D images that conjures up this enormous palace’s papal past before your eyes. See it in a short video clip here: Avignon sound and light show. Set in a UNESCO world heritage site that has an 800 year old history, this is one son et lumière show you won’t forget. From mid August to end September, available in English for specific performances, see website for details and tickets: www.lesluminessences-avignon.com
Son et Lumière Rouen Cathedral, Normandy
A wonderful nightly sound and light show that illuminates the Cathedral of Rouen with a theme of either William the Conqueror (1066 and all that) or Joan of Arc, who was executed in the town. the video clip is from the 2014 show.
From early June to late September. See website for details: www.rouentourisme.com
Son et Lumière Amiens, Picardy
Each summer, Amiens Cathedral is reborn with the colours of yesteryear, thanks to a projection of digital images that enables you to admire this masterpiece of Gothic art, a UNESCO world heritage site. Details: Somme-tourisme.com