Les Bassins des Lumieres visitor guide

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The Bassins des Lumières is a giant art installation housed in an ancient submarine base on the edge of the historical centre of Bordeaux.

Each year a different artist is featured and the art works are expanded and displayed as a magical sound and light exhibition. 

Explore the Bassins des Lumières

France This Way review: The Bassins des Lumieres is a sound and light show that features important artists and takes place in the evocotive WW2 Nazi Submarine base in Bordeaux. It changes each year and is a spectacular show not to be missed.

Salvador Dali at the Bassin des Lumieres

The Bassins des Lumières in Bordeaux is the world's largest digital art centre. It has been created in a World War II submarine base located on the Port de la Lune in Bordeaux.

Inside the base the four 110 meter long pools of water once used as wet docks for the submarines now sit at the heart of the magical art displays where the reflections from the water add to the splendour of the displays.

The concrete walls of the docks are used as the backdrop for the superb art installations created by Culturespaces. The images are constantly in movement and different walls and reflections show different parts of the images at all times.

The art is totally immersive, completely filling the space and an incredible musical soundtrack accompanies the show.

Each year a different artist is featured with a second artist or architecture following the main event. Gustave Klimt, Paul Klee, Yves Klein, Claude Monet, images of Venice, Joaquin Sorolla, Salvador Dali and Anton Gaudi are all artists that have featured at the Bordeaux installation.

 
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Inside the base there are various ways to enjoy the spectacle. There is a seating area overlooking one of the main exhibition areas.

The main areas are linked with bridges across the water. These are the best places to stand and admire the art works as there is a close up large view in one direction and then a long view over the water and the scenes all along the space in the other. 

The reflections on the water all add to the magic.

When you have watched the whole of this exhibition which takes about an hour, and is on a continual loop so it doesnt matter what time you arrive, you can visit 'the cube' which features the works of various artists who specialise in immersive art.

There is also a museum space with information about the submarine base, an educational area and a shop selling gifts related to the current and previous installations.

In the evening there is a different show which some years is highlights of previous shows and in 2023 is a space exploration.

The art installation changes every year and the Bassin des Lumières closes every January to install the next year's show. The exhibition runs every day 10 am to 5/7 or 9 pm depending on days and time of the year.

The Bassins des Lumières is situated at the Impasse Brown de Coulston, 33300 Bordeaux. It can be reached by public transport using Bordeaux's impressive tram system or by bus but there is an enormous free car park and it is much easier to drive.

The Bassins des Lumières is one of three art installations run by Culturespaces in France. There is one in a quarry in Baux de Provence, les Carrières des Lumières, and one in Paris, l'Atelier des Lumières.

Gustave Klimt at the Bassin des Lumieres

Attractions nearby

Bordeaux is a fabulous city with a UNESCO classified historical centre. Other areas of interest include the waterfront area and Chartrons district.

There are various museums including the Musée des Beaux Arts and the Musée d'Aquitaine.

You can find more travel ideas in the Gironde guide and the Aquitaine guide.

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The French version of this page is at Les Bassins des Lumieres (Francais)