October 23, 2023
Somewhere between Avignon and the French Spanish border.
Yesterday we drove to Les Beaux France which is officially (1999) one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is perched on a natural plateau below an ancient chateau. The location gives the village inhabitants the advantages of being able to see long distances and to protect themselves from invasion. It has been continuously inhabited since prehistoric times.
The name Baux is from the Provençal word “bau” (pronounced bow, as in ‘take a bow’), meaning an escarpment.
The Baux family built the castle in the 13th century though the town was fortified in the 10th century.
The town had a period of prosperity, then, in the 1600s fell in a siege after King Lois XIII decided to impose order. It then fell into decline, losing nearly 90% of it’s population (3000 to 400).
Quarrying for Bauxite (named after the town) and limestone brought some prosperity back to Les Baux, then in the mid 20th century, gastronomy (Michelin starred restaurant) and tourism completed the town’s renaissance. Les Baux now has 4 Michelin starred restaurants!
We arrived at the town and walked the historic route..there are 2 chapels and a church in the small town along with the remnants of 16th century mansions.
We then walked to the castle which has a beautiful view from the various towers (we climbed them all!)’of the Provence countryside and of the village.
After returning to the village we had a delightful lunch. Sonya ordered a plate of Provençal specialties which was beautiful. We all enjoyed it along with our fish dishes.
After our late lunch we went on a 6 kilometer hike north of the town and saw the town and castle from the other side of the valley. It was not crowded and from the hills we saw the remaining limestone quarry, some ancient towers and lovely vistas.
And that’s a wrap on Provence for this trip. We did a bit of souvenir shopping in the morning and are heading back to Barcelona for one day.