Last summer Maxime and I were away for a weekend in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, a village in the Alpilles national park. The village is not far from the city of Avignon and we traveled to this region for a cycling race. Of course we also had to visit the beautiful village of Les-Baux-de-Provence and its castle.
Build by the Baux family
The first writings about the region are from the 10th century. Due to its geographical location high on the limestone rocks of the Alpilles, a fort was built by the Baux family to inspect the area.
The Baux house was one of the strongest families in the region and in total they managed seventy-nine fortresses and cities. In the twelfth century the only heir married the count of Barcelona. As a result, the region fell into the hands of the Catalans. The Baux family disagreed and demanded part of the inheritance. This caused several conflicts and wars between 1144 and 1162.
Demolition commissioned by the king
After the death of the last living person in the family, the fort fell into the hands of the king. However, King Louis XI was suspicious of a fortress so powerful and so far away from its court. Fearing that it would fall into the hands of an enemy, he therefore ordered it’s demolition in 1483.
Renewal during the Renaissance
During the Renaissance the region flourished again and the village and it’s fort were partially restored until it fell into the hands of rebels, around 1631. The reason for this was the royal decision to abolish the Provencal parliament. Ones the rebellion was over, the rebels tried to secure themselves within the walls of the fort, but eventually had to give up and paid 100,000 pounds to be able to buy off their peace. The Fort would now remain in the hands of the king forever.
Les Baux-de-Provence nowadays
After the second world war the village received a new life and it started as a tourist and cultural center. There are many nice shops and restaurants making this a really lively village. You can find Provencal souvenirs and regional products there:
- Bags of lavender
- Genuine Savon de Marseille (do not buy the colored cubes of soap, but the square olive colored ones)
- Provencal pots
- Provencal wall decoration
- Provencal regional products such as spices, Callissons (delicious almond sweets, but expensive!)
- And so on!
When to visit
Many tourists come to visit the village every year. You’ll be able to park along the road, although it can take some time to find a free spot. Parking fees are about 5 euros for the first hour, 6 euros for two hours and 6.50 euros for 3 euros and so on. If you also go to Carriéres de Lumières, you can try to park there, which is free. It’s only a short walk to the village.
It is best to arrive early (before 10 am) or late in the evening due to the crowds and the heat. If you go in the evening, you can also enjoy a beautiful sunset. The view is incredibly beautiful.
WHERE TO STAY
Baumanière – Amazing and beautiful Provencal hotel with a beautiful view on the Alpilles, indoor and outdoor pool. Also, the hotel has a very good gastronomic restaurant.
Le Mas d’Aigret – Great hotel with a nice view on the valley. In some of the rooms the old atmospheric walls are still visible and this gives the hotel a lot of character!
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