France’s best summer light shows

Son et lumière shows held in venues ranging from châteaux to old quarries are a spectacular part of French summers. Zoë McIntyre picks the highlights

BLOIS

Son et Lumière

Until 21 September

Huge silhouettes projected on to the façade of the Château Royal de Blois in the Loire Valley conjure up tales of chivalry, love and drama at this residence of French kings. The narration is spoken by leading French actors and an audio guide is available in English.

Tel: (Fr) 2 54 90 33 33

www.chateaudeblois.fr

CHARTRES

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Chartres en Lumières

Until 12 October

The soaring Gothic cathedral in Chartres becomes even more mesmerising when multicoloured lights dance around its intricately carved façade to an orchestral accompaniment. Nearly 30 buildings and squares in the town are also lit up.

Tel: (Fr) 2 37 23 40 00

www.chartresenlumieres.com

LES BAUX-DE-PROVENCE

Carrières de Lumières

Until 4 January 2015

The immense interiors of a disused limestone quarry are used to display famous art on a monumental scale. This year’s show celebrates the works of three Viennese artists, including Gustav Klimt – best-known for his gilded masterpiece The Kiss.

Tel: (Fr) 4 90 54 55 56

www.carrieres-lumieres.com

VENDÉE

La Cinéscénie

7 June to 13 September

The historical theme park Puy du Fou employs a cast of more than 1,000 actors, dancers and horsemen for its night-time extravaganza, held on a huge outdoor stage beside the castle moat. Expect fireworks, light shows and lasers.

Tel: (Fr) 8 20 09 10 10

www.puydufou.com

VERDUN

Des Flammes à la Lumières

20 June to 26 July

The centenary in 2014 of the outbreak of World War I makes it a particularly poignant time to watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Verdun and its aftermath, using 250 actors, 900 costumes, 1,000 projectors and an array of special effects.

Tel: (Fr) 3 29 84 50 00

www.spectacle-verdun.com

LE MANS

La Nuit des Chimères

2 July to 1 September

As dusk settles on the medieval quarter of Le Mans, the buildings and cobbled streets are turned into giant projection screens (pictured) to recount the history of the Plantagenet dynasty, which came from the town and ruled England for three centuries.

Tel: (Fr) 2 43 28 17 22

www.nuitdeschimeres.com

AVIGNON

Les Luminessences

11 August to 11 October

In the courtyard of the Palais des Papes, spectators learn about the papacy’s residence in Avignon in a light and video show that projects 3D images on to the walls, backed up by music and narration.

Tel: (Fr) 4 32 74 32 74

www.lesluminessences-avignon.com