This is an extremely picturesque village with royal history beyond the ordinary.
Les-Baux-de-Provence is included in all guidebooks about Provence, so look it up in your favorite for more complete information.
Les-Baux-de-Provence is a touristic site rather than an active village, but that's not a discredit considering the beauty of the village and the surrounding Alpilles. Whenever we've been by, including as early in the season as April, the roads near the village have been packed solid with cars and buses, and the 20 F parking along the roads and in the crowded lots strigently controlled; we've not had the nerve to brave the parking and the crowds to visit the village.
Nearby: | Alpilles | Arles 24 km | Avignon 30 km | Châteaurenard 20 km | Eygalières 22 km | Eyguières 26 km | Glanum 9 km | Gordes 46 km | Graveson 20 km | Menerbes 48 km | Nîmes 44 km | Saint Martin-de-Crau 15 km | Saint Remy-de-Provence 10 km | Tarascon 18 km |
While much of the southern part of the Alpilles is exposed rock, the northern slopes, where the road zig-zags down to (or up from) St. Rémy, is thickly forested. The road up to Les Baux from the southeast passes through olive groves and vineyards, and passes the Cave Vignoble Sainte Berthe where you can stop and taste the local wines.
There are incredible rock formations in this part of the Alpilles, with the road sometimes seemingly cut through the solid rock with single strokes of some giant's knife [photo-3].
The name "baux" means a prominent cliff (see below), but has become more well-known for the bauxite named after this region. Bauxite was first discovered in the Alpilles, and named after the village of Baux-de-Provence.
Just inside the entrance to the village are narrow cobblestone streets, terrace cafés, souvenir shops and tourists, very reminisence of St-Paul-de-Vence. Parking will cost you 20F, but free parking is allowed along the road before you get there. Les Baux is a very popular tourist site; Beyond recommends that you arrive at 9 AM.
The village area is a stone and cobblestone medieval village time-warped to the 20th century. The real glory of Les Baux is the site, viewed from the exterior, and the chateau-fortress area beyond the village.
Among the many shops in the village, the Santonnier J. Peyron actually makes the santons "sur place". You can watch him working while browing in the shop.
Entrance to the chateau area at the top of the village is about 6 euros/person. This area is a high flat ridge on top of the rocky pinicle of Les Baux, with the ruins of the fortified castle extending up in walls and keeps. If nothing else, it's worth the trip for the view. For one spot you can see as far as Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Victiore mountain and Marseille; from another, towards Arles and the Camargue.
The chateau-fortress complex is fascinating, and it's well documented with many informative panels in English and French. Among the medieval-style sites are a set of huge seige engines, including
- Catapult (Baliste), 11th-14th century [photo]
- Covered battering ram (bellier)
- Trebuchet, 12th-16th century sling-catapult, that had a crew of 60 and fired two 100-kg stones an hour up to 200 m.
One of the features of the old fortress is the remains of a very large "pigeonnier" (dovecote). There's a note that the right to own a pigionnier was a lordly privilege.
First record, 960: Balcium
The name Baou is the Provençal word for a prominent, elevated rock (like a protruding, narrow cliff).
The "Baux" family became powerful here in the 9th century and ruled as Lords until the 15th century (1426).
Les Baux-de-Provence has been occupied as a defensive site throughout history.
Celto-Ligurian: signs of these ancient peoples have been found here, and there are both Celtic-Ligurian and Roman necropolis nearby to the north.
Gallo-Roman: Several Roman artifacts, including burial tombs and stèles (monoliths) mark this as a Roman defensive town.
Medieval: The "Baux" family ruled from the 9th century until 1426 when the last of the lords died. Baux was integrated into the county of Provence, and then became part of France, along with Provence, in 1481. When the population revolted at this integration, Louis XI responded by "dismantling" the chateau. Baux became a barony, eventually ruled by Anne de Montmorency who rebuilt the castle and built the social life of the town to royal proportions.
Office de Tourisme
Tel : 0490 54 34 39; Fax: 04 90 54 51 15
Every June, last Sat - Fete de la Saint-Jean; sound-and-light, fireworks from the plan du chateau.
July - Sept - Art and Music festivals.
- Baux History Museum - Tour du Manoir de Brau - Musée d'Histoire des Baux
- Famous historical events to the Baux citadel
- Tel: 0490 545 556
- Cathédral d'Images - Picture Palace
- Total 3-dimensional images: walls, ceilings, floors, screens.
- Tel: 0490 543 865
- City of the Dead - Citadelle ou Cité des morts
- Tel: 0490 545 556
- Tickets available from the Museum of History
- Foundation Museum Louis Jou - Musée Fondation Louis Jou
- Grand master printer of Baux; works, engravings, incunabula
- Open: only for groups and by rendez-vous
- Tel: 0490 543 417
- Modern Art Museum - Musée d'art contemporain
- Location: Hotel de Manville
- Tel: 0490 543 439
- Olive Trees Museum - Chapelle St Blaise - Musée de l'Olivier
- Photographs with the theme of olive trees (oliviers) and painters
- Tel: 0490 545 556
- Paintings Museum - Musée de peinture
- Entry: free entrance
- Pénitents Blancs - Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs
- Frescoes of shepherds and the midnight mass, in 17th-century chapel
- Saint-Vincent Church - Eglise Saint-Vincent
- Cistercian nave and stained glass windows, in 12c and 16c church
- Yves Brayer Museum - Musée Yves Brayer
- Contemporary works of art, sculptures
- Location: Hotel des Porcelets
- Tel: 0494 543 699
- Santonnier J. Peyron
- A workshop and boutique, rather than a museum, but with santons on display.
- Location: Rue du Chateau, in the heart of the Medieval village.
- Open: 7/7.
- Web: www.peyron-campagna.com
- Santons Museum - Musée des Santons
- Provencal Santons, 17th and 18th century
- Tel: 0490 543 439
Olive Oil Mills (List of Mills - 13)
Castelas Huile d'Olive
Location: Mas de l'Olivier, Quartier Frechier
Tel: 0490 545 086
Olive oil available.
Mas de la Dame
Missoffe - Poniatowski
Location: Route de St Rémy, RD5
Tel: 0490 543 224
Olive oil available.
Transportation Les Baux-de-Provence
- Arles, St-Remy-de-Provence Bus
- Line 59 (of the Bouches-du-Rhône bus company LePilot) connects Arles with Les Baux-de-Provence and St-Rémy-de-Provence. There are about 6 buses a day between Arles and St-Rémy. The trip takes 50 minutes.
Bus line schedules for the Bouches-du-Rhone department are available from the www.lepilot.com website, section Les Réseau - CARTREIZE, subsection Infos/Téléchargement. Click on Fiches-horaires du réseau CARREIZE for a linked list of the bus lines (http://www.lepilote.com/presentation/?rub_code=1010&thm_id=11705&gpl_id=&part_id=10)
- click on Line 59 for the schedule (PDF file). [http://www.lepilote.com/ftp/FR_documents/FH0059.pdf]
- Department 13, Bouches-du-Rhône Buses
- See Beyond's Bouches-du-Rhone (13) Bus Schedules for downloading Bouches-du-Rhone bus-lines map and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
The GR6 (Grande Randonnée) goes through Les Baux-de-Provence.
• To the west, the GR6 follows the ridge of the Alpilles to the end, and continues on northwest to Tarascon and Pont du Gard.
• To the east, the GR6 drops down the northern slope of the Alpilles to St. Rémy-de-Provence, then climbs back up to continue east along the Alpilles past Eygalièeres and Eyguières, crossing the autoroute north of Salon-de-Provence.
La Hotel-Restaurant Cabro d'Or
Location: Val d'Enfer. Route d'Arles- 800 m du village
Open: all year
Closed: off season sun dinner to tue lunch; 11 nov-20 dec
Tel: 0490 543 321; Fax: 04 90 54 45 98
(also a 4-star hotel) Excellent Mediterranean cuisine with the best local olive oils.