Les Baux de Provence and Arles

France, Les Baux-de-Provence
europe_franceOn our way to Arles, we come by Les-Baux-de-Provence one of the most visited places by tourists in France equal to Mont Saint-Michel! Seen from afar it is definitely impressive though when you come closer, you start seeing that it is another ghost town / museum. Short walk and then, finally, we arrive at our beloved city.

As we approach Les Baux, we get an idea about what the place is really like: a tourist trap! They charge 5€ for parking alongside the road even during winter (from 8.00 to 20.00)! We refuse to pay this amount of money so we continue driving when, surprise! Just past the fortress, after a few hundred meters the blue stripe ends [43.74174,4.79064] and there are several areas where you can park for free. Of course we must walk for about 500 meters;) Not such a big sacrifice to make…

 
France, Les Baux-de-Provence

The path to the village is steep but relatively short. We reached the top in less than fifteen minutes. At the entrance of the village we were ‘welcomed’ by the expected row of tourist shops, restaurants, fast food etc … How nice! However, we must admit that most of the souvenirs were a bit more sophisticated than the normal ‘made in China’ stuff. We arrive at the entrance of the castle and we get informed that the ticket costs 8 €. It sounds exaggerated but somehow we’ve started to get used.

 
France, Les Baux-de-ProvenceFrance, Les Baux-de-ProvenceFrance, Les Baux-de-Provence
France, Les Baux-de-ProvenceFrance, Les Baux-de-Provence

The castle includes a bit of everything, from prehistory to the Middle Ages and the modern era, from war machines to caves of Neanderthal … Extra bonus the spectacular view on the plateau below. It makes us understand how Provence has managed to maintain its color and its beauty: it is forbidden to build!

France, Les Baux-de-Provence

We climb up to the top of the site enjoying the panoramic views. The castle itself is quite interesting and unspoiled, without interventions which means that some passageways are not exactly easy (no sandals, please…:). It is a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.

France, Les Baux-de-Provence
France, Les Baux-de-Provence

Two more photos from the top: the parking lot for the lazy visitors and the view of the Val d’ Enfer. According to Federic Mistral this landscape could have inspired Dante to ‘imagine’ the topography of his Hell. Another interesting detail associated with this place: bauxite takes its name from Baux as it was first discovered here!

France, Les Baux-de-Provence
France, Les Baux-de-Provence

Strolling along the streets of the ‘village’ we entered the Chapelle des Penitents Blancs (Chapel of the White Penitents), frescoed by the artist Yves Brayer to whom a small museum is dedicated too (it was closed).

We left from Baux with the sad impression that it looks more like an amusement park than a real village. It is a pity for a place with such a long and turbulent history.

France, Les Baux-de-Provence

After few tens of kilometres we arrive in Arles, a city that we’ve visited more than once traveling by motorcycle, car and now for the first time in our camper.
We stop at the large parking lot for buses [43.68349,4.6303] where, despite the low season (we are still in mid-February) we find a dozen other campers. I wonder what might happen in the summer season …
A little further [43.68168,4.63038] there is also a column for loading and unloading for free. In theory it has two sockets for electricity, but it is virtually impossible to stand close enough. Weird

France, ArlesFrance, Arles

Arles is one of the most beloved French cities for us. This time we stayed just for one night, partly because of the Mistral, the ‘typical’ fierce wind of Provence. Our camper seemed being a small sailboad in the middle of a storm so we preferred to leave early in the morning.

Below there are some photos taken by Massimo during our previous trips … Thankfully it has not changed :)

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FRANCE : PROVENCE : ARLESPanoramic view of the city and the riverFRANCE : PROVENCE : ARLESPlace de la Republique. Night view
FRANCE : PROVENCE : ARLESWalking of Rhone river banks
MP03AR139FRANCE : PROVENCE : ARLESA romantic promenade on Rhone's banks.
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FRANCE : PROVENCE : ARLESLavender perfumed decorative souvenirsMP03AR052
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FRANCE : PROVENCE : ARLESThe Museum of Ancient ArlesFRANCE : PROVENCE : ARLESfloor signs for the tourist walks

In Arles we discovered the course camarguaise or course libre, a variant of bullfighting but at least with no killings. The objective is to remove a ribbon from the horns of the bull using a crochet. Apart from the ‘fun’ they use these courses as a system to select the best mothers for future fighting bulls…

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