After St Paul and Glanum, I took Sue and the Girls up to Les Baux. We'd driven by on our previous visit but was put off by the huge tourist buses. The same thing again when we passed by so we decided that an early morning start would be the way to go.
After an early breakfast we hopped in the little red Hyundai and dashed off over the Alpilles to Les Baux. It sits on a the highest most point of a rocky spur overlooking the valleys on both sides - a most strategic position but it didn't stop it from its eventual demise. It held off many attacks over the centuries but the most successful attempt was due not to violence but to the cutting of supplies to the people of Les Baux. They eventually surrended.
The Citadel was then destroyed by the victors never to be rebuilt so what we saw was the ruins of a complex village fortress built into the craggy cliffs. Quite amazing.
|As you enter the lower regions of Les Baux, you see some latter ruins of the village.|
|This map shows the lower inhabited village with the ruins of the Chateau above.|
|The Medieval Siege machines.|
We thought we might spend an hour at Les Baux but it turned into more than two hours, so fascinating that it was. Portions of the site were only discovered by accident in 1999. How much more might be hidden?
On entering the Les Baux you walk the streets of the current village with souvenir shops and eating places that lead you to the medieval ruins if the Chateau des Baux de Provence.
Being at the highest point of the region, it overlooks the olive groves and vineyards below. In the Moyen age water was not accessible so the people made their own water collection system. Pathways had channel systems underneath. A sophisticated system of small reservoirs or catchment areas caught rain from the sky and these areas can be seen as you walk the rocky slopes. The ruins of a wind mill can be seen sitting just above one of these catchment areas before you walk towards reproductions of the five medieval siege engines. As we walked by a demonstration was in operation with the Trebuchet for a group of school children. The Trebuchet was a machine that could launch stones 200 metres towards fortress walls in an attempt to make an entrance for the enemy to invade.
Les Baux has many levels, and narrow walk ways leading to rooms cut from the rock faces. You can see sections carved from the walls for storage use and fireplaces. Vaulted ceilings embellish the rock in certain areas within the Lords of Le Baux Chateau.
|Those little honeycomb holes in the wall are pigeon lofts. Pigeons were used to send messages as well as the dining table.|
If you were a pigeon, you'd want to be a very good messenger.
|Where the stairs descend is one of the water collecting reservoirs.|
Just a little history from the Les Baux tourist website: