Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Les Baux

On the way to Les Baux, we passed through Saint-Remy, where van Gogh painted "Starry  Nights". Because of the Mistral, the air is super clear, the eye can see forever, and the landscape colors are so crisp...I understand better why he liked Provence.  He also spent time in a psychiatric monastery here.  Just a little town, with lots of Italian cypress, olive, sycamore trees.  Very similar to the California central valley.

 I can imagine van Gogh wandering around with his easel and paints...

There are Roman ruins, such as this arch, and a memorial on the left.

More countryside, as we start gaining altitude. We can see Les Baux in the distance.
Blurred vineyards in foreground.

Les Baux is a medieval town that sits atop a rocky prominence in the Alpilles mountains.  It has a commanding view to the south, thus it's importance during feudal times.  The walled castle/village still exists, and it is charming.

The castle is in ruins, some walls remain.

The only entrance into the fortress, during medieval times - one had to climb a steep hill, get through the doors while fending off the villagers...it was very secure.

Village buildings hang on the hillsides.

The village has a couple of churches, 

one with a beautiful fresco and marble altar,

the other has modern stained glass windows, but true to the original glass colors.

The Blessed Virgin, sculpted from local rock.

There was a little museum with these little hand made dolls...you can buy them in the shops.

The village has 3 little parallel streets, loaded with shops. Many of the buildings have an icon above them, which in medieval times, advertised the shop's wares.

Covered and open passages, linking little streets and buildings together.

Looking to the north, there is a little village in the valley.  There are even some houses built into the rock.  There is a Relais & Chateau Hotel Restaurant that I believe would be an excellent home base for exploring Provence...after I win the lottery!  Apparently, dignitaries helicopter in for meals. 

The ride back to Marseille, which we saw nothing of, was beautiful.  Vineyards, olive orchards, little stone buildings, fields of sunflowers, and the blue Mediterranean off in the distance.  I'll be back someday, to explore this area on foot. 

As I took one last look around, I saw this rock formation, which to me looked like a bird.  There were lots of hawks soaring around.

Bye bye Provence.  See you later.  Tomorrow, Italy!

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