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Les Baux-de-Provence

Les Alpilles, Bouches-du-Rhône

43°44'38"N 4°47'43"E
Published: January 2010
last updated: March 2011
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++++The visit

Tourists’ darling, Les Baux de Provence, is another one on Les Plus Beaux Villages de France list. Les Baux has Les Baux-de-Provence twenty-two sights, listed in the register of historical landmarks of France, twenty-two souvenir and artisan shops and, ironically, the same number of inhabitants intramuros.
Entering into the burg, you will inevitably pass by Maison du Roy built in XV century, which longtime served as the house of justice (nowadays it hosts Tourism Information Office, where you can take the plan of Baux, ask for guided tours, etc.). On the first crossing take the right street that will take you to Museum of Santons (traditional Nativity figurines) – the visit of its impressive collection is free of charge. A few steps further you’ll reach La Porte d’Eyguières (Water Gate), which until 1866 was the only entry into the burg. From there take a cobblestone street (in Provencal “Calade” – the word that describes special arrangement of cobblestones, posed vertically on the ground) to Place Saint-Vincent, where you will see Eglise Saint-Vincent (Saint Vincent Church) built between XII and XV centuries – an example of Roman style. Next to it is Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs (White Penitents Chappel) built by the Penitents order in XVII century. Inside the chapel is adorned by the fresco of Yves Brayer – one of the most significant contemporary French painters. You will find museum of Yves Brayer next to the church.

The visit of le Château (the Castle) is a must if you came to Baux. Besides climbing the ruins of one of the biggest and most important castles of medieval Provence and enjoying magnificent panorama of Alpilles mountain-chain, you will be able to see full-size catapults and other medieval heavy weapons. If you come to Baux in the summer period (April 1 – September 30) you will be able to see the demonstration of the catapult. Since you came to the castle, don’t hesitate to ask for an audio-guide in your language and for a map of the mysteries of the castle for your children.

From the castle follow rue du Château to reach another surprising landmark of Baux – a renaissance window with inscription Post Tenebras Lux (Afret Darkness – Light) – the slogan of Calvinist Reformation. Next to it Hôtel de Manville (now hosting townhall) – one of the most beautiful buildings of the burg built in XVI century for a rich protestant family. On your way back you’ll pass by other historical sights of Les Baux. Hôtel Jean de Brion hosts one of the most remarkable museums – Fondation Louis Jou – a private collection of one of the major typographers of France (visit possible on reservation only for groups of min. 30 people, contact the foundation through the website:

After the burg do visit Le Cathedrale d’Images (Image Cathedral) – a spectacular installation of image and light in the abandoned bauxite mine. This place has inspired numerous artists. Every year le Cathedrale changes its audio-visual exposition, presenting a new facet of art.


Les Baux is perched on the rectangular plateau on top of Alpilles mountain-chain overlooking the valley of Arles and la Camargue. Thanks to the strategic location, this place was inhabited from early prehistoric age. In the chronicles we first meet Les Baux under the name of “Balcium Castrum” in X century. In Middle Age Baux became the cradle of one of the most powerful families of Provence – the princes of Baux possessed seventy-nine towns in Provence called “les terres baussenques”.

In XV century after the death of Alix – the last princess of Les Baux, the rebel castle and the lands belonging to it are taken under the authority of the counts of Provence and later of the French Kingdom. To prevent future rebellions Louis XI of France orders to destroy the castle; the lands of Baux come under direct authority of the King, not depending on the local authorities of Provence and preserving their past noble status and privileges. Despite all precautions in XVII century Baux becomes the place of refuge of the rebels from Aix-en-Provence. The burg is besieged by the troops of cardinal de Richelieu, who destroy the rests of the castle. In 1642 the seigniory of Baux is granted to Hercule Grimaldi – the house of Grimaldi preserves the title of Marquis of Baux, which currently belongs to prince Albert Grimaldi of Monaco.

Baux become one of the most visited towns in France after Word War II. Raymond Thuillier opens there “Oustau de Baumanière” – four-star hotel and world famous restaurant that hosted Queen Elisabeth, Jean Reno, Bono, Hugh Grant and numerous other celebrities.
In 1960th the whole ensemble of the burg is taken under protection of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of France.

++++Practical information

Les-Baux-de-Provence is situated between Aix-en-Provence and Avignon. From Aix-en-Provence take direction Salon-de-Provence and then departmental road D17 until it crosses D781 (La Route des Baux-de-Provence). From Avignon take direction St.-Remy-de-Provence and then D5 until its crossing with D17.
You can reach Baux by a public bus (St. Remy – Arles or Salon – Arles). Besides, almost every city in Provence as well as most tour-organizers will offer you tours to Baux. You can ask for more information in the Office de Tourisme of the town where you are staying.

There are several paid parkings: the one outside of the village costs 3€ per day, another inside the village – 5€.

The village is open to visitors, however you will have to pay for the visit of the castle, museums and le Cathedrale d’Image (you can buy individual tickets, a day pass, or tickets for combined visits; for the updated information concerning prices see: http://www.chateau-baux-provence.com/en/baux/340-/).

When you visit Les-Baux-de-Provence, timing is everything. We suggest you to avoid summer time, school vacations and important holidays when Baux is overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of tourists. However, you may choose to visit Baux on the day of spectacles (Egg-hunt, assault of the castle, painters’ day, stone day, etc.), or participate in the beautiful Christmas Mass.

Like the rest of Alpilles region, Baux suffers from strong northern wind, Mistral, that blows over 180 days per year. Even if you are visiting Baux on a warm sunny day, don’t forget about Mistral and take some warm wind-proof clothes.

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  • Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

    Les Plus Beaux Villages de France is an association created in 1982 with the aim to preserve and develop the small communities with rich historical and cultural heritage. The members of association are selected according to 30 criteria by a special commission. The three fundamental criteria are :