LES BAUX DE PROVENCE
One of the most beautiful villages in France
The village of the Baux de Provence is situated in the heart of the Alpilles on a rocky plateau 245m high. A brilliant view of Arles, the Camargue and the Alpilles can be seen from the look-out points! This immense, superb stone fortress is one of the "must-sees" on the Provencal tourist trail! The village is officially classified as "one of the most beautiful villages in France".
Its cultural heritage is exceptionally rich, with 22 architectural treasures classified as "Historic Monuments" (including the church, chateau, town-hall, hospital, chapels, houses, doorways... without counting items of furniture and a collection of paintings).
The village has been painstakingly restored and is now one of the most popular attractions in the region - Les Baux welcomes more than one-and-a-half-million tourists a year! The 400 permanent residents must surely have the impression of living in a real-life museum!
The village can only be visited by foot and you will admire the ancient houses that have been carefully restored, beautiful Renaissance façades and several magnificent "hôtels particuliers" which today serve as art galleries or museums.
While wandering around you will come across many craft shops selling Provençal products and souvenirs. Food-lovers will be delighted to discover that several restaurants in Les Baux boast international reputations.
You cannot miss the "Citadelle des Baux" at the summit of the village. Les Baux covers 7 hectares and visitors can discover the main ruins of its dramatic past: the keep, Saracen towers, chapel, old war weapons... the history of Provence unfolds before your eyes amongst the rocks and stones.
ST REMY DE PROVENCE
Surrounded by lush green perfumed valleys
Situated in the heart of the Alpilles, Saint Rémy is one of the most popular towns with the rich and famous in Provence. Surrounded by lush green perfumed valleys, its ancient streets are lined with beautifully restored old houses... you will soon be seduced by Saint Rémy's charm! While strolling through the narrow winding streets you will discover fantastic old fountains, shady squares, picturesque bars and restaurants and elegant boutiques.
From the Place Jean Jaurès to the gates of the old town, you will come across a long succession of "hôtels particuliers" (often converted into museums or art galleries), convents, chapels, and ornate houses from the 17th and 18th century.
The beauty of the countryside and the quality of light has inspired many artists, writers and painters. Without a doubt, the most famous was Vincent Van Gogh who produced more than 150 paintings of the countryside surrounding Saint Rémy. You can walk to the very same places painted by the artist and discover the mountain of St Rémy, fields of wheat and coquelicots (wild flowers), olive trees and cypresses - all just as it was more than a century ago.
Saint Rémy is an historic village built on one of the oldest archeological sites in Europe. Visitors can fossick among the remains of the "Comptoir de Glanum" which was founded in the 3rd century BC, before control passed to the Romans under Julius Cesar. The ruins have seen the passing of several civilisations and you can visit the "Grands Thermes", the long residential avenue, the temple and the natural spring of a true gallo-roman city, dating from 30 to 10 years before Christ.
The village has preserved authentic charm
Eygalières is a small calm village, perched on the summit of a small hill, just 5 minutes from Saint Rémy de Provence. The village is surrounded by the superb landscapes of the Alpilles, with olive groves, green valleys and vineyards punctuated here and there by super tastefully restored residences.
The village has preserved its authentic charm with beautiful stone houses, almost always framed with a touch of green or sweet - smelling flowers which allow glimpses of beautiful gardens beyond.
The main street takes you up to the village Church from where you can visit the chateau ruins, and the esplanade of the old gatehouse and Saint-Laurent church.
The Eygalières local history museum is also worth a visit. It can be found in the Chapelle des Pénitents (XVII°) and presents some prehistoric relics as well as an interesting collection of agricultural tools.
From the museum there are magnificent views towards the Caume mountain, the Alpilles and the River Durance. Similar views can also be enjoyed from the Calade path which leads past the chapel.
Eyglières is quite a small village but you could spend the entire day here strolling around, admiring its wayside shrines, fountains and washhouses or having a bite to eat in one of the lovely restaurants or cafés.
On Friday mornings, the village becomes very lively with its Provençal market.
True picture postcard Provence
Not far from Saint Rémy de Provence and Tarascon, Maillane is a peaceful little village situated at the heart of the magnificent countryside: hills covered with olive trees and cypresses, long level roads lined with plane trees, orchards and cicadas, shady little squares, blue and green shutters faded by the sun… villages sleepy during the siesta and lively at aperitif and pastis time… here you are, in picture postcard Provence- the beautiful Provence of the Alpilles. There are 2 lovely Café/Bistros and a good restaurant as well.
Maillane is largely devoted to the memory of Frédéric Mistral, the illustrious Provençal poet who was born here on 8 September 1830. Mistral was founder of Félibrige (a group of militant Provençal writers who campaigned for the preservation of the langue d’Oc - the language of southern France), ardent defender of the cultural identity of Provence in the 19th century, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1904, author of Mireille, the famous poem, Mireio, and founder of the Arlaten Museum in Arles. He wrote beautifully about Provence and lived all his life in his beloved Maillane. His house has now been painstakingly renovated and converted into a museum. Here you will find Mistral’s memory kept very much alive, as well as the objects, books and photographs he collected during his life. The majority of his works were written in Maillane. In the garden there is a statue of him made by Achard.
MAUSSANE LES ALPILLES
Lovely village surrounded by superb countryside
Nestled at the foot of the Alpilles, Maussane is a lovely village in the vallée des Baux surrounded by vast olive plantations and superb countryside. Although Maussane was situated on the ancient Roman road linking Arles to Aix en Provence, only a few remains can be seen today. Maussane's history is linked to The Baux de Provence where its inhabitants sought refuge in times of war. Maussane slowly gained independence and soon prospered thanks to its many springs and fertile farmland.
There are several shops in Maussane and a weekly Provencal market on Thursday mornings. You will find over 20 restaurants where you can enjoy Provençal-inspired cuisine made with the local mill’s homegrown olive oil and fresh local produces. Whether you like snacking or having a gourmet’s menu you will find the perfect setting and enjoy some outstanding food.
In the 1830s, Maussane possessed more than 650 hectares of olive trees and no less than 12 windmills or "moulins à huile" were used to make olive oil.
Today Maussane and its neighbour, Mouries are the most important olive oil producing areas in the country. The first stop on the "route de l'olivier", Maussane has more than 37,000 olive trees. Its two windmills continue to produce oil of exceptional quality.
France's premier oil-producing municipality
Mouries is a small, picturesque village surrounded by little hills and fields of olive trees at the foot of the Alpilles, at the heart of the Vallée des Baux, with several lovely bars and restaurants.
The culture of Mouriès is rooted in its tradition of olive oil production and the village is proud to be France’s premier oil-producing municipality, with 80,000 olive trees!! During the harvest period, from November to December, you can experience how olive oil is produced in Mouriès. The oil is labelled “AOC” and comes in four different varieties: Salonenque, Aglandau, Grossane and Verdale des Baux.
There are still three mills in operation which can be visited all year round: Christian Rossi's modern mill, the Moulin Co-operative and the Vaudoret organic mill.
Mouriès is fortunate enough to have a bullring which can accommodate up to 3,000 people. Folk dancing and processions in traditional costumes precede the finals of the Bull trophy – La Course Camarguaise - and provide a show faithful to the traditions of the Camargue.
A picturesque village with several excellent restaurants
Fontvieille is situated in the heart of the " Les Alpilles", not far from the historic Roman arena at Arles, the citadel of the Baux de Provence, the museums of Saint-Rémy and Avignon which is less than 30km away! Fontvieille, is a picturesque village with several excellent restaurants and with its ancient houses built from stone extracted from the famous quarries founded in the 15th century.
The famous arenas at Arles and Nîmes, the 14th century chateau at Tarascon and most recently the Palais Longchamps and the Bourse at Marseille have all been built from the same stone.
Fontvieille is the village where Alphonse Daudet wrote his famous "Lettres de Mon Moulin". His windmill - the "Moulin de Daudet" - and a small museum are located on the hill above the village in his memory, from where one has the most superb views of the Alpilles and the "Château de Montauban" where Daudet lived from time-to-time. It was here, surrounded by this "scenery of stone" (or "caillasse" as they say here), on this hill-top covered in olives, pine-trees and oaks that Daudet found the inspiration for his stories. He dreamt up his characters while listening to the stories from the shepherds and inhabitants of the Montauban chateau.
Filled with beautifully restored houses
Le Paradou is the charming name given to this tiny, delightful village situated between the Baux de Provence and Maussane at the foot of the Alpilles mountain range. Although this village may well ressemble Paradise, the origins of its name Le Paradou are much more down to earth... its name comes from the ancient windmills used by the weavers who lived on the banks of the Arcoule river.
Established at the foot of the fortress, the Baux de Provence, the fate of the village was closely linked to the nobles, the "Seigneurs des Baux". Two historic artefacts from this era can be seen today - a surprising hydraulic irrigation system and the remains of a 12th century chateau with crumbling towers and a walled enclosure.
La Petite Provence du Paradou museum is worth a visit. It is understood to be one of the biggest “creches” in the world with over 400 different “santons” made by the most talented “Santon” makers in Provence.
Le Paradou is filled with beautifully restored houses with colourful gardens and brightly painted shutters. Its narrow, well-maintained streets are filled with several bars, cafes and restaurants decorated in Provencal style and tempting boutiques selling local crafts. Le Paradou is a glorious example of Provence at its best !