Keith Van SickleLocal Food ProducersTaste

Great Olive Oil Tasting at Moulin Castelas in Les Baux de Provence

If you’d like to taste some of the best olive oil in Provence, look no further than the Moulin Castelas, situated just below the famous fortress of Les Baux-de-Provence.

Castelas is owned by Catherine and Jean-Benoît Hugues, a French couple who lived in Arizona before returning to their native country when they “fell in love with some old olive trees.” They bought the estate in 1997, then constructed a new olive mill in 2002 to make the best olive oil possible.

Les Baux de Provence

©Domaine Castelas

Award-Winning Oil

The Hugues make their olive oil much like a winemaker makes wine, with great care at each step of the process. And the results are spectacular: Moulin Castelas has won top awards in national and international competitions.

In addition to pure olive oils, Castelas produces oils infused with different flavours, like rosemary, basil, and citrus. And unlike some producers, they don’t just add chemical flavourings to their oils. Instead, they macerate them with ingredients, adding fresh rosemary to their olives before milling them together, for example.

Castelas Olive Oil Les Baux

©Domaine Castelas

Friendly Tasting Room

Castelas is my favourite place for olive oil tasting because it is well-organized and friendly. They have English-speaking staff, and you can taste indoors among the olive oil tanks or outdoors on their lovely, shaded terrasse. I’ve brought many friends there, and they’ve all loved it.

In addition to the Castelas boutique, you can tour their mill, which lasts about a half hour. Neither tours nor tastings require a reservation—just come on by!

Moulin Castelas is close to St-Rémy-de-Provence, Maussane-les-Alpilles, and Les Baux, making it an easy trip for visitors to any of those towns.

Castelas Olive Oil tasters

©Keith Van Sickle

Practical Information

Moulin Castelas (website)
Mas de l’Olivier
13520 Les Baux de Provence, France

Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 54 50 86
Hours: Weekdays from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, Weekends and Holidays from 10 am to 1 pm and 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm

Domaine Castelas has two distinct areas where they grow the olives for their oils and tapenades. There are 110 acres of Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) groves in the Vallée des Baux de Provence and another 160 acres on the Plaine de Crau. At both properties, the Castelas team follows organic farming principles. However, olives from the Plain de Crau do not fall under the regulations of the AOP.

Image credits as indicated.

Castles of the Alpilles

While in the Alpilles, the small mountain range near Domaine Castelas, you’ve probably spotted a medieval chateau or at least some ruins. 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.

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Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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