photo: ignis

A must-see village in the heart of the Alpilles

While Les Baux de Provence is more of a tourist site rather than an active village – there are only 500 inhabitants – it still remains one of the most breathtakingly beautiful villages in France. The real beauty of Les Baux is the site itself, viewed from the exterior with the château-fortress and the surrounding Alpilles in the background. Les Baux-de-Provence is one of those places where you feel time stands still.

The town itself is a stone and cobblestone medieval village. Its name comes from the Provençal baou, which means rocky spur. Traces of mankind have been found dating back as far as 6000 BC. The village was used by the Celts as an oppidum, and it became the seat of a powerful feudal lordship during the middle ages. The Lords of Baux sought control of Provence for many years, but an end was finally put to their reign with the death of the last princess of Baux. The village was then transferred to the French crown along with Provence in the 15th century. In 1642, the town was given to the Grimaldi family, rulers of Monaco. The title of Les Baux still remains with the Grimaldis to this day, although it is entirely French when it comes to administrative matters.

Les Baux has 22 architectural treasures classified as historic monuments, among them the Château-Fortress and the Citadelle des Baux. Les Baux offers the most spectacular views of Arles, the Camargue and the Alpilles, and from another spot one can see as far as Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. The village is only accessible by foot. Its ancient houses and splendid hotels particuliers have been beautifully restored, serving as art galleries or museums for the public.

“No one passes through Les Baux without a sense of true nostalgia, for here, more than anywhere else, the labours of time show what becomes of the most ambitious undertakings: ruined walls and breaches onto the void. The stones of man’s proud constructions devoured by the sun and wind. Only traces remain of their ambition, fears and solitude.” (T.Fréchier)

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