Les Baux-de-Provence, France
Les Baux-de-Provence is an adorable French town built onto the side of a hill and capped with a castle. By some accounts it is the cutest town in France. We found some beautiful French towns, but agree it is a not-to-miss spot when exploring the Provence region.
We started our visit to Les Baux-de-Provence with a visit to the Carrieres de Lumieres, which is worthy of its whole own post. We parked the car there and after our visit walked up the road to Les Baux-de-Provence.
The walk is completely uphill as Les Baux is built into a rocky outcrop of the Alpilles mountains. The town is full of narrow stone streets and is completely adorable. We encouraged the kids up through the town, which in summer is likely lined with open shop after open shop, but in winter has only a few open stores.
Everyone was hungry so we popped into lunch at one of the open restaurants which is completely not worth mentioning as the food was average. In high season there appear to be many more food options in Les Baux, but we took what was available. There are plenty of great spots in the town as well as in the castle to picnic, so in better weather I would bring along a selection from one of France’s many amazing grocery stores to enjoy outside.
The castle that tops the rocky outcrop is the main tourist attraction and is worth an afternoon visit. Chateau Les Baux de Provence is steeped in French history having served as a fortress from the 10th century. Each new inhabitant made changes to the chateau to fit the changing nature of defensive buildings.
An audio tour is included in your visit and is necessary to understand what you are viewing. Each section of the castle and outcrop is from a different historical period and served different purposes. It can all be quite confusing to keep track of.
The sweeping vistas of the village below Les Baux are not to be missed and best seen by heading down into some of the fortifications that sit below the cliff line.
The boys (Jeff included) were most fascinated with the collection of weapons displayed in the yard. Modern reproductions of the trebuchet, bricole and couillard were installed in 2007. Daily catapult demonstrations are sure to thrill!
Imagine having this beast banging at your castle door. Although we’ve read about battering rams, being able to see one and understand how they were built to shield those using them from enemy archer fire was really unique.
The boys also cannot resist an opportunity to pretend to be locked up.
There is an activity booklet for children 7-12 in French. We requested one but since none of the boys are yet 7 we were not given one. I think the kids might have enjoyed the visit a bit more following along with the kids booklet. Instead they made do partnering up with us and listening to our audio tour.
When our visit was finished we made our way back down the hill through the town. We paused at one of the open shops and each picked out a cookie. I think in the future we would pass up these cookie treats as they were really nothing special.
A bit down the road is the adorable olive oil producer, Moulin Castelas. The visit is very informal. Someone in the shop took us out back to see the machinery. There is a guide printed in a few languages that Jeff read aloud to us.
In the store you can taste all the oil offerings. These tastings are done by putting oil into a spoon and slurping it. We tasted all the oils while learning about the different processes. We ended up purchasing a few bottles because the oil was so delicious. They also make a variety of beauty products from the oil. They were all quite tempting!
There are a few tables near the parking lot. We let the kids run around a bit while we enjoyed a snack before loading everyone back up into the car to head back to our Airbnb.