Tucked away in the foothills of the Alpilles and situated atop a rocky outcrop sits Les-Baux-de-Provence. This French commune’s towering elevation once gave it a tactical advantage, and today, those sweeping views of rolling mountains and olive groves are part of what makes it one of the most beautiful villages in southern France.
Les-Baux (or more commonly called Baux) holds a dramatic history. In the Middle Ages, it was ruled by the powerful Baux family and the castle, Château des Baux, served as a stronghold during times of war. United with France in the 15th century, followed by a revolt in the 17th century (with interventions by King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu), the city, Château des Baux, and its fortified walls were destroyed and left in ruins. Soon after, the King gifted lordship of Les-Baux to the Prince of Monaco’s heir and, although it is no longer official, this title is still passed down.
For travelers, Baux mixes the best of regional history, flavors, and relaxation. Explore a ruined castle, taste locally grown wine and olive oil, immerse yourself in art, and explore the majesty of the Provençal countryside. Here’s how to visit Les-Baux-de-Provence.
Top Attractions in Les-Baux-de-Provence
You’ll be amongst your fellow tourists at these hotspots that put Les-Baux-des-Provence on the map.
Château des Baux
The moment you arrive in Les-Baux-de-Provence your gaze will be drawn to the pale castle walls rising above the narrow streets. Originally constructed in the Middle Ages, current-day tours offer insight into the everyday life of the castle, with workshops on blacksmithing and demonstrations of the trebuchet on the grounds. Although much of it was destroyed, the remaining ruins are fascinating.
You can still visit the Dovecote, where pigeons were bred, the Oven House, where bread was baked, and, of course, head up Paravelle Tower to enjoy panoramic views of Les-Baux-de-Provence and the Valley of Hell below. Conveniently located close to the castle, Les-Baux Jus is a favorite for lunch with its plant-based meals and shaded outdoor seating.
Carrières de Lumières
While the Château des Baux lets you take in the open plains of the Alpilles, the Carrières de Lumières take you deep within the rocky ground. This 19th-century quarry has been reimagined as the backdrop of an immersive art show which won the best immersive experience in the world in 2017. Paintings and drawings by artists like Van Gogh, Mondrian, and Raphael flood the walls as the music draws you into the artwork. The full show takes around forty minutes.
Although you can enter in the middle of a show, there’s a useful countdown clock outside the show to time your visit. If you have time to spare, enjoy the café at the entrance. Stay close to the quarry at the Baumanière Hotel, also home to the Michelin 3-star restaurant L’Oustau.
As you wind your way through the narrow streets of the old village, you’ll eventually find yourself on the Place St. Vincent. At the end of this street, a small yet beautiful church sits opposite an even smaller chapel. The Saint Vincent Church’s main draw is its beautiful stained glass windows, from Prince Rainier III of Monaco and designed by the French visual artist Max Ingrand in the 1940s and 1950s. The structure and statues inside mostly date back to the 12th century, with the southern end of the church carved out into the rock behind it. It does tend to get crowded, so head here early in the morning to best enjoy the atmosphere.
Surrounding Areas & Nearby Towns
Beyond the town itself, there are several neighboring villages, natural landscapes, and local groves and vineyards that will round out your stay in Les-Baux-de-Provence. You can visit them as day trips or take your time moving through the region.
The mountains of the Alpilles range aren’t particularly tall, but their presence lends an unforgettable atmosphere to the villages in their foothills. You can admire them from afar or get up close as you hike through the Alpilles Natural Regional Park, home to over two-hundred bird species.
There are several options for marked hiking trails, including multiple loop routes. It’s best to visit the tourist office in Les-Baux-de-Provence before embarking on a trek, as they can give you detailed maps and information on trail routes and closures. Bear in mind that you usually can’t access the forested areas of the Alpilles between the start of July and early September due to fire risk.
Villages & Communes
To the north of Les-Baux, Saint-Remy-de-Provence is home to the Saint-Paul Asylum, where Van Gogh painted Starry Night. Just south lies the small village of Maussane-les-Alpilles, where you can visit some of the best olive groves in Provence. To the west, Fontvieille is famous for its windmills and the Montauban Castle, which hosts exhibitions on the town’s history.
Head to the Vaucluse department in the east to visit Vaison-La-Romaine and Gordes, where you can visit Ancient Roman ruins and explore underground caverns. In Aigues-Mortes, you can explore salt marshes and the history of the Camargue region. Each town has its unique flavor of Provençal charm and will add something special to your appreciation of the region. Les-Baux is also just a few hours from French Riviera hotspots like Saint-Tropez and Cannes.
Experiencing the Region
Beyond the breathtaking sights, Provence’s tastes and scents will stick in your memory long after you’ve left. Famous for its wines and olive oil, Les-Baux is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves offering tours, such as Mas de La Dame and Moulin Castelas. Moulin Castelas’ shop has a wide selection of olive oils that make perfect souvenirs for yourself or your loved ones back home. In town, at Signorini Tartufi, you can fill your bag with goods made from local truffles.
If you visit Provençe in the summer months, you’ll never be far from lavender fields in bloom. The end of June and the beginning of August are the sweet spots, and you can visit the fields around Les Château des Baux or take a tour from the nearby town of Avignon to the Luberon Valley. Stay in the valley below Les-Baux, close to the olive groves at Domaine De Manville, the luxury spa hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Aupiho.
Art in Les-Baux-de-Provence
Along with the famous Carriéres de Lumiere, Les-Baux has several art galleries, some housed in mansions from the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Van Gogh: Van Gogh’s paintings are frequent features of the Carriéres de Lumiere, and many feature the landscapes of the Alpilles.
- Yves Brayer: Known for his landscapes showing everyday life, Yves Brayer’s work can be seen at the Yves Brayer Museum, close to the Saint-Vincent Church.