Treading in Ancient Footsteps at Les Baux-de-Provence
A few years ago now we headed across to Les Baux-de-Provence with our boys, after having seen the spectacular site in the helicopter footage during the coverage of the Tour de France, which unsurprisingly is essential viewing in our house!
Les Baux-de-Provence sits atop a rocky promontory on the Southern side of Les Alpilles not far from the beautiful town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and seems to have simply grown from the rock itself.
…Continue reading here for Julie’s descriptions and photos of le Baux de Provence. Plan to wander through the village to the remains of a one-time hilltop fortress. There is a self-guided walk through the chateau, which is like a step back in time to appreciate the power that this castle once held over a large swath of territory. Plan on spending at least an hour, and as Julie wisely recommends you should probably take along something to drink.
Your entry into the castle can be combined with the Carrieres de Lumieres, which is always worth a visit. Note: Les Baux can be very busy in the peak of tourist season, so plan to either go early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid the tour buses.
Visitor Tips for Carrières de Lumieres
The best time to visit Carrières de Lumières is early in the morning, or late afternoon after 17h, otherwise, parking can be a bit of a nightmare.
The projection lasts about 35-40minutes, and it is repeated throughout the day. Once you have paid the entry fee, you can stay and watch the loop as many times as you like.
Carrières de Lumières is the largest fixed multimedia installation in France. The 14-metre high walls are the backdrop that 70 video projectors use to broadcast images.
The show is suitable for anyone with mobility issues as are there are few stairs and wheelchair (or baby pram) ramps where necessary.
The interior of the space is fresh, which is fabulous on a hot summer day, but even then it can feel cold, so it is best to bring a sweater or coverup.
Buy your tickets online to avoid the lineup. You can purchase a combination ticket that allows access into the Château des Baux-de-Provence as well.
There is a small café on-site for a drink or light snack.
January, March, November and December: 10h-18h
April, May, June, September and October: 9h30-19h
July and August: 9h30-19h30
The last entry is one (1) hour before closing
Chateaux Guide the Alpilles Castles
If you’ve spent time in the Alpilles, the small mountain range near St-Rémy-de-Provence, you’ve probably spotted a medieval chateau or two. Some are hard to miss, like the magnificent chateau and fortified city of Les Baux. Others are little more than piles of rubble.
The Alpilles were once dense with chateaux of all shapes and sizes. But why so many? And what happened to them? Here’s some history, plus a guide to the chateaux that you can still visit today.
The Alpilles have long been a strategic military and political location. They lie near two large rivers that are important for trade and transport, the Rhone and the Durance. And back in Roman times, the area was crisscrossed by three major roads—the Via Domitia, which ran along the northern edge of the Alpilles, the Via Aurelia which ran along the southern edge, and the Via Agrippa, which connected the area with cities to the north.
Fortifications have long been built in the Alpilles because it is such an ideal place for them, with its steep cliffs and rocky outcroppings that make for perfect defensive positions. Plus the high positions make it easy to spot signs of danger. For much of human history, these fortifications were built of wood or earth, so little or no trace remains today. But in the 10th century, what we now call chateaux began to be made of stone.
One of the first was atop Mont Gaussier, the high peak above St-Rémy. It wasn’t much, just a small watchtower, but it had a view over the entire northern plain and was virtually impervious to attack. Continue reading here.