Hi Frugalistas! This post is a guest post by Céline Saliba-Gomez of Curiosity France. Céline lives in Southern France so is an excellent choice of author to share the best things to see in the Alpilles. The Alpilles is a picturesque and popular part of Provence, which many readers will have visited when on a holiday in Provence.
Who has never dreamed of seeing Provence and discovering the Provençal art of living?
I would like to share with you a region of Provence that I particularly love : The Alpilles. This area offers so many places to discover such as Les Baux de Provence, Saint Rémy de Provence, without forgetting some less known fortified villages, full of authenticity.
Best Villages to visit in the Alpilles
Les Baux de Provence is mostly known for its medieval castle on the heights of the city. Visiting this place takes you back in history by discovering the troglodyte houses, dungeon and towers Sarrasine. The latter protected the castle from enemy attacks.
The second must see experience in Les Baux de Provence is les Carrières de Lumière, which is an old stone quarry, used for building constructions (in the city and villages around) in the 1800s. They offer stunning immersive digital exhibitions. Every year they honour an artist and his paintings are projected in the four corners of the quarry with music, from floor to ceiling. This year, we have the pleasure to see Cezanne painting, the master of Provence, a lovely tribute for this native of Provence (exhibition until January 16th, 2022). In the past, I had the chance to see Dali, Gaudi, Chagall and Van Gogh. Each time, it’s a real wonder.
My favourite place, which is very authentic, is Saint Rémy de Provence. You can find every Wednesday the market with local products such as olive oil, honey, wine, cheese (usually goat), and fruits & vegetables. Perfect to buy local food for a picnic in the olive groves ! On Saturdays, there is another market more focused on food and located only close to the church, compared to the one on Wednesday, which is through the narrow streets and small places of the city.
I love the atmosphere of the city with the small typical boutiques of local artisans (candle, clothes…). For shopping lovers, you will find all you could wish (lavender, perfume, soap, essential oils, clothes, decoration from Provence…).
And for gourmet lovers, there are a large choice of restaurants with mostly Provencal cuisine, from the brasserie to the Michelin star restaurants.
Because it is important to take the time to live, after a stroll in the city, I recommend to taste an icecream at La Fabrique Givrée, a pure delight for your taste buds.
I am sure you have all heard about the famous painter Van Gogh, but did you know that he spent a year in Saint Rémy, in Saint Paul de Mausole cloister in 1889 ?
In fact, he stayed in this psychiatric asylum and you can visit this place including the room he stayed in and its stunning view, the botanical garden, and the Roman cloister itself, from the 11th century. During this period, he painted several of his famous paintings such as Les Iris, la nuit étoilée et l’Oliveraie.
Another nice site to explore in the city of Saint Rémy is the Roman vestiges of Glanum and the Antiques. Both are located close by. You can visit the Antique for free and need to buy tickets to have access to Glanum.
The archeological site of Glanum is characterized by important religious and civil monuments discovered in 1921. Discover the secrets of those vestiges throughout the visit.
In terms of accommodation, here also, you will find a large variety of lodging between charming guest houses, private villas and hotels. Some are located downtown so this is perfect if you don’t have a vehicle to move around. And others are a bite further away from the city so you would need bikes or a car to reach it.
As a local expert, I would say that staying in Saint Remy is perfect to explore the west of Provence such as Avignon (30 mn), Arles (35 mn), Camargue area (45 mn) but also Aix en Provence, Luberon area (1 hour) and Marseille (1 hour 20).
I previously mentioned fortified and hilltop villages, which are part of the identity of the Alpilles area as well. In other words, the Alpilles would not be what it is without those small villages.
Whether in Maussane les Alpilles, Eyguières or Aureille, you will be seduced by the charm, character and authenticity of their church, small cobbled streets, stone houses and fountains.
Best produce to buy in the Alpilles
Another feature of this area is the culture of the olive oil. You can admire the beauty of the olive trees endlessly and of course, not a better place to taste this local and protected product. There are various olive oil mills that you can visit and savour their products.
The visit usually lasts 45 minutes – 1 hour, to discover the production method of the « Green gold ».
If you are looking for an authentic area full of charm, history, and with a strong local culture, the Alpilles region is for you !
Céline was born and raised in the South of France and after a successful career in Canada returned to France to share her love of the terroir, cultural and gastronomic of France. Her company Curiosity France specialises in tailor made experiences and events throughout the best parts of France.