Discover the Alpilles
The Alpilles are one of the absolute "musts"in Provence, embodying the harmony of sublime landscapes, a still untamed natural environment and proudly preserved traditions. It conveys an image of deepest Provence, the authentic Provence with its style and refinement.
This is the Provence of St Rémy de Provence and Baux de Provence... This is the land of the authors Alphonse Daudet and Frédéric Mistral, and also the land of Van Gogh who lived in St Rémy and who was inspired by its light, its sunflowers and its famous cypress trees.
The landscape here is magnificent: little mountains covered in scrubland, pine and oak forests, and verdant plains delight the eye at regular intervals.
Throughout the Alpilles you will find steep little roads and pleasant shady paths, offering beautiful panoramas well worth a place on a postcard.
The fields of olive trees stretch as far as the eye can see. Here and there you will glimpse avenues of cypresses, leading to superb renovated country houses or ancient drystone farmhouses
Situated in the north-western corner of the Bouches du Rhône, the Alpilles spread out like a golden triangle, from south of Avignon at its peak to the borders of the Camargue near Arles and the Crau plain, with mythical rivers on either side, the Rhône and the Durance.
The area owes its name to the chain of small mountains, called the Alpilles, which crosses from east to west in the middle of the 30 km triangle between Orgon and St Etienne du Grès. The highest point of the Alpilles is at an altitude of just 493 m..
The exceptional heritage handed down by previous civilisations gives the Alpilles a unique personality, with 3 civilisations represented on a single site at Glanum, the Antiques at St Rémy, Montmajour, the innumerable Romanesque chapels and churches including St Gabriel at St Etienne du Grès, the fortress at Tarascon, the Medieval Citadel and Renaissance houses at Les Baux de Provence, the Château of Barbentane, the quarries, the aqueducts, the abbeys, etc. as well as the many farmhouses bearing witness to an ancient agricultural civilisation.
In addition to the prestigious monuments and remains to be visited in the Alpilles, there is the simple charm of the villages with their houses huddling so tightly around the church, the squares and plane trees, the fountains and bar terraces.
Typical Provençal villages in the area are : Maussane, Mouries, Fontvieille, Eygalières, Le Paradou, Maillane (Mistral's village). Throughout the year the seasons are punctuated by traditional festivals, bringing the villages to life. Here the Art of living is cultivated with a capital A.
Here the olive is celebrated fittingly, as is the vine, which is only natural ... Few Provençal areas seem to be so attached to their traditions: festival of Transhumance, La Charette Festivals (Feast Day of St Eloi), bullfighting games, feria & abrivado. In December, the Christmastide traditions are celebrated in every village: Christmas markets, big supper with the famous 13 desserts, the "pastrage" ceremony when sheep and shepherds are invited into the church, etc.
More than elsewhere this corner of Provence is resuscitating and reinventing its past and traditions and is proud to assert its identity.