PROVENCE - THE ALPILLES - VILLAGES
Saint Remy de Provence
Nestled in the hills of Les Alpilles, Saint Remy de Provence is surrounded by lush green valleys with a stylish town centered around medieval alleyways, charming old fountains, shady squares and beautifully restored old houses. The center is a historic village built on one of the oldest archeological sites in Europe. Saint Remy`s artistic and Roman history give a great deal of cultural history in this small town. There are two small museums, picturesque restaurants and elegant boutiques and art galleries to enjoy.
The beauty of the countryside and the quality of light has inspired many artists, writers and painters here, Vicent Van Gogh being the most famous. He produced more than 150 paintings of the countryside surrounding Saint Remy de Provence. The countryside encompassing the village is protected as Les Alpilles Natural Park, which you will witness in the flourishing vineyards, wildflowers, cypresses, and olive groves. There are fantastic vineyards, much of which is organically farmed.
Alleins is a charming little village located in the middle of a plain between Salon de Provence and the Luberon offering culture and dynamic monuments. The medieval village has a fortified entry portal and a hilltop site for the village castle. The heart of town has been restored to preserve the village`s heritage where you will discover its beautiful history. The center of the village is packed tightly with ancient stone houses and quaint little streets for wandering and exploring. Many of these houses along the cobbled lanes have ancient doorways and brightly painted shutters here and there.
Exploring the old village of Alleins you`ll discover informational plaques placed in strategic spots, explaining monuments such as the chateau, parish church, chapel and the typical 16th-century houses on the Rue de la Franternite. A short walk will lead you to the chateau ruins at the top of the old village, the hilltop castle offers beautiful views out across the countryside. The scene of this village has all the charm of a typical village where life is lived in a relaxed and a warm atmosphere.
Les Baux de Provence
The village of Les Bauxde Provence, situated in the hub of the Alpilles, has been labeled as one of the most beautiful villages in France. The town has been restored, and today is one of the most popular attractions in the region. It has a rich cultural heritage boasting 22 architectural treasures classified as Historic Monuments.
Les Baux de Provence is a completely pedestrianized village offering ancient houses that have been restored with beautiful Renaissance facades and several art galleries and museums that are housed in ` hôtels particuliers` (historic mansion, hotels). You will also enjoy charming boutiques and craft shops selling Provencal products and several restaurants, with many of them boasting an international reputation. Make sure not to miss the `Citadelle des Baux` at the peak of the village.
The small town of Mallemort in the northern corner of the department of Vaucluse, offers a Medieval old town, somewhat spread out and located beside the Durance river. The town offers a real village flavor with several old French farm houses located throughout the center. Mallemort was built on a rocky spur to provide protection when the Durance river would overflow. As you wander the streets of the old town, you`ll discover beautiful 17th-century houses and a fascinating 17th-century church topped by a steeple and a spire. The village offers wonderful panoramic views of the agricultural plain and the Durance valley, as well as the 19th-century old suspension bridge (built across the Durance in 1844 - 1848 by King Louis Philippe), with its original wooden roadway. Don`t miss the one of a kind Emile Pico Museum of public works vehicles here, presenting the largest collections of public works vehicles in Europe. The town also offers Roman remains, as well as the ruins of the castle that once belonged to the bishops of Marseilles, from 1260 to 1789. You can also find a few village cafes and bakeries in the old town.
Maussane les Alpilles
Maussane-les-Alpilles is a small town on the foot of the Alpilles Mountains and surrounded by vast olive plantations and beautiful countryside. The town offers a great selection of cafes and restaurants, including some with dining terraces on the shady square in the center of town. You`ll also find a lovely big fountain, two ancient washhouses, and a large old church. The town is rather spread out, but the central area is interesting for wandering around and exploring the charm this village has to offer.
The village of Maussane-les-Alpilles, along with its neighbor, Mouries, are the most important olive oil producing areas in the country. The area has more than 37,000 olive trees. It`s two windmills continue to produce oil of exceptional quality. You cannot visit Maussane-les-Alpilles without tasting the famous oil it produces, truly amazing!
Noves is situated in the north of the Alpilles between the Bouches-du-Rhone and Vauclus departments. The village offers some attractive ruins which date from the time when the bishops of Avignon and the popes were the lords of Noves. The ramparts include a bell tower, two gates and two beautiful square towers that date from the 12th and 14th centuries. While wandering the narrow winding alleyways and streets of the town, you`ll pass beautiful 17th-century facades, as well as a church of St Baudile, built in the 12th-century against the ramparts in the typical Provencal Romanesque style. Noves is a lively village offering several Provencal festivities such as contests with bulls from several herds, bull races, bulls released into the streets and folklore processions, as well as open-air meals and sardine festivals, where a great energetic atmosphere is guaranteed.
Orgon is a very old village on the banks of the Durance river bordering both the Luberon to the east and the Alpilles to the west. The town has traces of the Neolithic period and the Roman occupation has been found (statues, coins, burial sites, etc.). Traces of the historical heritage are apparent as you enter the village of Orgon. Above the village, you will see the fortified walls and gates that once protected the town.
As you wander the narrow streets of the village you will see beautiful old houses, some of which have Renaissance facades and windows. Explore the commemorative plaques that display the tragic episodes of the village`s history. The village square offers a Gothic style church, ND de l`Assomption (1325) with a beautiful bell tower. From the top of the church square, you will have a stunning view of the village skyline and the Durance plain.
Tarascon sits on the banks of the Rhone between Avignon in the north and Arles downstream. The town is sometimes referred to as Tarascon-sur-Rhone and is famous for its massive castle from ca. 1400. The village of Tarascon was founded around 130 BC and developed into a trading station as a well-marked crossing just before the river Rhone once more meander into a marshy delta to the north. The Medieval sites of the village are the 15th-century Roi Rene`s chateau, the 12th - 14th century Saint Martha collegiate church (both located in the center of town beside the main river bridge) and the 15th-century Saint Jacques church.
Tarascon is host to one of the most popular markets in the region, held every Tuesday. Another main attraction of the village is the colorful Provencal fabrics that come from the Taracon`s Charles Demery factory. The town offers some narrow Medieval streets to wander around, ancient walls and old fortified arched doorways, pretty arcades, and lots of little shops and cafes.
Beaucaire, a lively river city, is situated on the banks of the Rhone, with a canal boat basin in the center. The village offers many interesting sites with a charming medieval old town. The Canal in the town serves as a boat harbor and adds a lovely atmosphere with terrace cafes and shops all along the river. Some other highlights in Beaucaire are the Old Mas, Abbey of Saint-Roman, Gallo-Roman Mas of the Tourelles, Musee Augste Jacquet, the castle of Beaucaire, and the Museum of the Horse and Harmerry of Art.