Les Baux-de-Provence is a village, picturesquely situated on a hilltop in the heart of a small mountain range of the Alpilles in Provence, near the town of Saint-Remy-de-Provence. It is officially known to be the one of the most beautiful tourist villages in France and visited annually by more than one and a half million tourists. No matter what season of year you come, you will not visit this village alone. There are only about 500 residents of Les Baux-de-Provence, dealing with the shops, exhibitions, restaurants, and museums.
In the Middle Ages the town was managed by one of the main noble families in Provence, owning 79 towns and fortresses. However, it was also a witness of many battles and repeated target of attacks. In the mid-seventeenth century, the village was transferred to the Grimaldi family of Monaco. The current holder of the title Marquis of Les Baux is Prince Albert II. After the French Revolution, the village was annexed to France, but was slowly devastated and at the end of the nineteenth century had only about 400 residents. In 1821, one of the geologists discovered there a red rock, rich in aluminum hydroxides and called it bauxite.
The town began to come back to life after the Second World War, with the development of tourism. Today it has been carefully reconstructed and offers a unique opportunity to explore the medieval buildings, streets and a castle of the Lords of Les Baux. Next to the village there are also huge halls, carved into the rock, which used to be a source of building stone. They have now been adapted to computer-controlled great multimedia shows.
You are not allowed to enter the town by a car, but there are many parking lots around it where you can leave the car. Two of them located at the main entrance to the village are mostly occupied (P1; GPS: 43.745975, 4.796837 and P2; GPS: 43.746273, 4.796519) - the alternative is to leave car on the road (P3; GPS: 43.745554, 4.795358), and then to enter the town through "Eyguières Gate" (A; GPS: 43.744116, 4.794607) - that's what we did. We go the Rue de l'Église À l'Anc Mairie and then stroll narrow streets, visiting numerous souvenir shops and art galleries. Following places are worth seeing:
At the end of the Rue du Chateau there is the entrance to the castle (H; GPS: 43.743402, 4.794743). Admission: 8 € (9 € between April 1 and September 30 on weekends and holidays) normal ticket, 6 € (7 €) reduced (for children up to 17 years of age, unemployed, and groups of over 20 people).
Visiting the castle will take several hours. First, you can go to the vast plane, located on the edge of the cliff, where you find the ruins of a windmill (I; GPS: 43.741794, 4.793101). You have there a great view of the south-western regions of Provence (for example Arles). You can also participate in the show presenting the siege machines (J; GPS: 43.742352, 4.794437) or see fights of medieval knights (shows are included in the ticket price). Then you can move to the main buildings of the castle and climb up the walls or towers (K; GPS: 43.743445, 4.796121 or L; 43.744571, 4.796409) to enjoy more views of Provence.