Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Les Baux-de-Provence
In the hart of the Provence, this limestone chain (493 metres high) arises as a luminous and mineral mound, already exploited as a stone quarry in Roman days. Vines and olive grooves embellish the southern slopes of the Alpilles. On the north side fields with zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, lettuces and also almond and olive trees emerge from former marshes. This "Parc Naturel Régional" includes 124.000 acres and 68.000 people live there.
The hillsides of Provence
In between the Rhone and the Durance rivers, at the very foot of the Alpilles, Saint-Rémy arose thanks to water sources.
The Phocean merchants established a trading post here and Julius Cesar founded a civitates, the small city of Glanum linked to Arles. The barbarian invasions destructions started at the very end of the 200s and the survivors decided to settle 1500 ft. northwards, today the little town of Saint-Rémy.
This little fortified village as well as the Baux-de-Provence became part of the Grimaldi domain under Louis XIII.
At the end of the 1100s Franciscan monks founded a monastery next to mausoleum of Glanum, Saint-Paul-de-Mausole. After the French Revolution it became a psychiatric hospital and this is where Vincent van Gogh stayed for eleven months.
Your Provence tour guide will show you the parish church, originally built by pope John XXII, with its typical southern-gothic bell tower. Nostradamus was born in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and various beautiful private mansions can still be admired in Saint-Rémy. Your tour guide of Provence will show the urban development of these little Provençal cities.
One of the "plus beaux" villages of France
The stone cliffs emerge like an enormous vessel of jagged rocks, on its top there are these vestiges of the old defences. In the IX century a very powerful family decided to put down their roots here. Cliff in Provençal is balc or baux and the family decided to adopt it as their surname. They pretended to be the descendants of Balthazar, one of the three wise men and that is the reason why their coat of arms shows a star with 16 rays. The Grimaldi family of Monaco became in 1643 the marquis des Baux and the star is part of the Grimaldi's coat of arms!
The Baux family built the enormous fortification up until the XIV century but when in 1481 Provence became part of the French kingdom, several French kings and also cardinal Richelieu destroyed this symbol of power. The inhabitants then started building their houses on the north slope of the cliff and that is today's delightful, mineral and picturesque little town you are going to discover with your local tour guide.
The ruins of the former castle on the top of the tableland can of course be part of the guided tour.