Les Baux de Provence, France

Les Baux-de-Provence gets its name “baux” from a French word meaning cliff, and gives its name to bauxite, the aluminum ore that was discovered here in 1841. The lords of Les Baux ruled the Provence region during the Middle Ages, building fortresses here beginning in the 9th century. Traces of human habitation date from 6000 BCE, and the Celts built here as early as 2nd century BCE. Claiming to be descended from Balthazar (one of the mythical Three Kings of Christian writings), they didn’t acknowledge the supremacy of the various Popes or the French king, mainly because no one could make them!

Laura and Whit visiting the remains of the castle.

They were eventually integrated into Provence, and subsequently into France, in 1491, at which time the keep was demolished by the authorities, afraid of this impregnable fortress. The site became a center for Protestantism, and its revolts led Cardinal Richelieu to order the fortress pulled down, for a second time,  in 1632.  What remains, for the most part, is what was left after this punishment. Ten years later, King Louis XIII (think of The Three Musketeers)

awarded the area to a loyal follower styled as “Le Marquis des Baux“, whose family name is Grimaldi. You may recognize this family as the current rulers of Monaco.

Les Baux de Provence fortress

In the upper left corner, you can see the rails at the top of the mountain. The steps were extremely steep, and the risers 10-18″ tall

After the French Revolution, the town, by now numbering only a few hundred people, became part of France.

Les Baux de Provence fortress

Another view of the top. The trebuchets and catapults are reproductions

The lower ‘living city’ has been preserved and restored, and holds shops, museums, chapels, and restaurants. The upper ‘dead city’ contains the remains of the fortress and chateau.

Les Baux de Provence lower village

The “Lower Village” from the Middle Ages, now are streets of art museums, a couple small restaurants, and the remains of several churches

Even though “Le Mistral” was not in full force, we experienced terrific winds at the top of the fortress. It is France’s second most popular tourist site. Europe’s largest trebuchet is on site, and demonstrations are given daily in summer months (which we did not get to see).

I didn’t realize it at the time, but one of Provence’s most well-known makers of Santons has a shop in the lower village; however, we arrived rather late in the day and would not have had time to see the studio.I would have LOVED to visit the shop. We also did not see the entire fortress top, but what we did see was breathtaking. After leaving, we stopped in St.-Remy-de-Provence only long enough to grab eggs and wine for dinner. Below, a few more pictures. Many of these were taken by Laura.

Les Baux de Provence

All pulled down in the name of religion

Les Baux de Provence

The surrounding fields look like a patchwork – olives, vegetables.

Les Baux de Provence

Looking down on the lower village from the fortress

Les Baux de Provence

From the walk up. Warning – it is a very long walk up a hillside

Janet enjoying the museum-provided headsets with interpretation and history.

Les Baux de Provence

Church carvings

Me in the orange. Not all those who wander are lost.



Categories: History, Travel

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12 replies

  1. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Beautiful photos of the Geek Goddess’s travels in Les Baux de Provence, France. Thank you for sharing Two Different Girls And Friends.

  2. Very interesting excursion and photos. What do you think about cuisine of Provence?

  3. These are gorgeous photos. I love the way you integrate the history, and the story of your travels into the post.

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate the comment, as I try to work in a bit of history in nearly every place I go, enough in the short blog to make people interested to learn more.

      Naomi (too)

      • There is a fine balance between TMI and enough to peek interest. I have learned a new way of telling a story, using photos as visual aids, and I love it. You have certainly found the perfect balance, and I look forward to more of your stories.

  4. Wonderful post. I loved the excursion via your words and the gorgeous photos.

  5. As if Uzes wasn’t torture enough – now you throw in Les Baux for good measure! Shame you missed the santonnier though- we visited a workshop in Aix-en-Provence and it was really interesting and we ended up buying a set that we have progressively added to over the years.

  6. I love reading and learning about all the places you’ve visited. Certainly has enlarged my world!

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  1. Visit Vino con Vista Les Baux-de-Provence is the “Dead City” in the South of France | Vino Con Vista Italy Travel Guides and Events

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