Baux-de-Provence photo baux55.jpg (8 k) 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.

location map for Les Baux-de-Provence area map
Dept: Bouches-du-Rhône (13)

Also:  | Cathédral d'Images | Most Beautiful Villages |

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 |

Hotels near Les Baux-de-Provence: | Baux-de-Provence | 10 km Saint Remy-de-Provence | 15 km Saint Martin-de-Crau | 18 km Tarascon | 20 km Graveson | 24 km Arles | 30 km Avignon |

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.

Chateau-Fortress

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.

History

Name

First record, 960: Balcium

Name
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

Web: www.lesbauxdeprovence.com

Email: tourisme@lesbauxdeprovence.com

Dates

Every June, last Sat - Fete de la Saint-Jean; sound-and-light, fireworks from the plan du chateau.
July - Sept - Art and Music festivals.

Museum

Fun


Olive Oil Mills    (List of Mills - 13)

Castelas Huile d'Olive

Location: Mas de l'Olivier, Quartier Frechier

Tel: 0490 545 086

Web: www.castelas.fr

Olive oil available.

Mas de la Dame

Missoffe - Poniatowski

Location: Route de St Rémy, RD5

Tel: 0490 543 224

Web: www.masdeladame.com

Olive oil available.


Wine

Les Baux-de-Provence is in the region of its own appellation, Coteaux Baux-de-Provence wines. It's also on the edge of the appellation Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence.

Transportation Les Baux-de-Provence

Bus

Hiking

• The GR6 Hiking Trail 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.

Dining

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.

Lodging - Hotels