Last week we sketched an attractive yet very short portrait of Provence (to read what a family reunion can be in Provence, click here). It is one of our favorite regions of France and holiday destinations, and as we are currently in the area (Chez Vous Uzès) we would love to talk to you a little more about it! Provence is a diverse region that extends from Bouches-du-Rhône to Hautes-Alpes, passing through various territories such as the Vaucluse, the Drôme, the Var, the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Alpes-Maritimes. In Provence you can lie in the sun on a fine sandy beach, ride white horses in the surf, go hiking, climb hills and mountains, feast on the sun-filled cuisine based on olives and olive oil, superbly fresh vegetables, fish from the sea accompanied by lovely rosé wine. You can visit amazing towns and monuments from early Roman, Medieval and Renaissance through incredible contemporary structures signed by Frank Gehry (Château La Coste), Norman Foster (L’Ombrière), and more. Then mark your calendar to enjoy the many art, music, design, and local culture festivals: all is possible. The only drawback is to first admit you won’t be able to see it all at once!
Today we explore the massif of the Alpilles, an authentic nature reserve just an hour away from Uzès and the well-known cities of Avignon or Aix-en-Provence. There, nestled in the golden triangle between Les-Baux-de-Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence and Eygaliéres, you will be able to enjoy most of the region’s authenticity and traditions in style and refinement, without having to drive far.
Les-Baux-de-Provence offers you incomparable panoramic views over the Alpilles mountain range, and the 400 souls who live within its walls jealously protect a patiently restored and unparalleled heritage from more than one million visitors coming here each year. We strongly recommend a visit to the ruins and vestiges of the Castle of Les Baux, a 11th century fortress that you can visit in open air, discovering with every step what the castle looked like originally with the secular and religious remains, siege engines -that are sometimes operated in front of you! -, the military remains and of course the Baux outcrop & the valley. Many events bring the fortress back to life: the “Médiévales des Baux” from late March to the end of August, “Secrets d’Artisans” every weekend in September and the “Automnales” in October (Les Automnales). The narrow, history-filled cobblestone streets of the old village will lead you to architectural masterpieces, art galleries, crafts workshops, boutiques and museums, and gourmet restaurants. Take you time to really let the peace and calm of this marvellous environment sink in: why not enjoy a lavender ice-cream while you stroll through the village! For a lovely and unusual stay in this exceptional setting, we recommend Le Dernier Château: Le Dernier Château, an extraordinary troglodyte villa set into the stunning rock hillside of the village.
If you’re inspired by Le Dernier Château’s setting, you should not miss the Carrières de Lumières: the former quarries dug out by the hands of man since the Roman and used to build Les Baux and its citadel offer today to the visitor a magical world of images and music. The program currently includes a never-seen-before multimedia event devoted to Picasso and the Spanish masters.
A mere 20min drive will take you from Les-Baux to Saint-Remy, another remarkably preserved village of the Alpilles which was and is a great source of inspiration for many artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, who stayed as a patient at the Saint Paul de Mausolé monastery where he painted no less than 150 of his most well-known works, including the famous Self Portrait and The Starry Night.
Coming from Les-Baux, just before entering the city, you will find the archaeological site of Glanum: over a century of excavation on the site has revealed an outstanding collection of architectural antic relics. But Saint-Rémy is also in the heart of a land of gastronomy: renowned olive oils and AOC (PDO) Baux de Provence wines, as well as the famous Herbes de Provence, lavender and honey can be found in abundance every Wednesday morning at the colorful and busy weekly market in the centre. The town has indeed preserved its traditions and its personality. Festive events add flavor to the town life throughout the year: the Route des Artistes, a contemporary art fair (the next event will occur on October 7th), the bullfights and the Transhumance festival in the summer, concerts, plays and exhibitions. And where to rest from all this if not in our Bastide de la Lavande, where you can enjoy its glorious garden full of lavender and roses, olive trees, and vine-coved corners.
From there, you can reach Eygalières in less than 20min and discover the most beautiful village of the Alpilles. A visit on Friday mornings will show you how lively the village can become with its great Provençal market.
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