The commune of Les Baux-de-Provence is located in the South-East of France, in the region of the same name Provence (which itself is part of the larger region, called Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur). It’s a member of the Association of the most beautiful villages of France.
The history of this small settlement, nevertheless, is marked by famous names and events. The rock Le-Baux, on which the old castle is located, and below the village, was inhabited even during the time of the Celts. During the Middle Ages, representatives of the aristocratic family de Baux erected a fortified citadel here, from where they tried to spread their influence on all Provence. The feudal house of Les Baux remained one of the main participants in the historical events of Provence until its joining to the royal domain. At the end of the Huguenot rebellion in 1632, сardinal Richelieu, who suppressed it, included the fortress Le Baux among the main Provencal fortifications to be destroyed. The famous historical dynasty, Grimaldi from Monaco, also took part in the history of this commune. According to a treaty of alliance with them, the title of marquis of Le Baux was granted to local governors. Surprisingly, but this small settlement went down in history also in terms of geology – a mineral was discovered near Le Baux, named after this place “bauxite”.
Today this village is a “small preserve of the Middle Ages” – ancient buildings are so well preserved and there are no visible time markers. In a relatively small area, in addition to museums and hotels, there is many shops with craft products – homemade linen products, ceramics with bright provencal paintings, as well as many products made of lavender and olives (oil, soap, essences, cosmetic production).
But we were impressed most of all by “calissons,” which look like marzipan, very thick peanut muffins still made according to local recipes. You won’t eat a lot of it, and the most reasonable type of it consumption, in our opinion, is to cut them into very tiny cubes, and eat each one like candy. Truffles of excellent quality are also extracted in this area, which are highly valued in other regions. In Le Baux, the freshest of it can be purchased at relatively moderate (for truffles) prices.
There is one place nearby that I would like to tell more about – Carriere de Lumiere (“Quarry of Light”). In the local large-scale catacombs, a light show is organized – projections of paintings of famous artists (most often, impressionists), with animation effects (it moves), and with thematically selected music.
There are not enough words and even photographs to make an amazing impression that arises in the immense darkness of premises, when suddenly the walls come to life, present to the attention of stuporous spectators and permit them to plunge into the art paintings. I highly recommend it. The only caveat is that it’s worth to be concerned with admission tickets in advance, as there are many people who want to see the show during the season. For these purposes, there is a very useful lifehack – on the resource Foxiepass.com you can order not only tickets online (which saves time), but also a tour with a local guide.
Also during our visit, we clashed with an unexpected phenomenon for us – a very strong wind, which, as it turned out, is not uncommon in this country. I would not focus so much on this but for the force of wind – it was difficult to talk with such capfuls, and in order to protect my ears (it started to hurt), I had to buy scarves at the nearest store to bind up it around my head. In general, we examined sights at a run.
The village Les Baux is located in the middle of the Alpilles reserve, and along it there are touristic footpaths of varying difficulty (in addition to the fact that the most wonderful views open up). It’s quite easy to get there by car (rented throug bookingcar ie), this place is indicated on all known routes in guidebooks for the region. And even the road itself through local lavender fields, orchards and forests creates a special mood that only intensifies when you get to the fortress.
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