Oh thank goodness, the sun is out. Just when I thought I’d go mad from the rain, the weather gods deliver a perfect day with clear blue skies, as if the storms of the past week were just their little joke, reminding us who’s really in charge here.
It’s an ideal day to dust off our Les Plus Beaux Villages book off in search of a new spot to visit.
Les Baux de Provenance sits on a rocky outcrop of the Alpilles hills in Provence, looking across an extraordinary 3,000 foot high limestone escarpment. With the recent rain it’s a study in tones, black in sharp contrast to the creamy limestone.
Access to the village is up a steep stone path, but our climb is rewarded with views of the Carmargue to the left, cliffs directly across.
Humans have lived here since the dawn of time, cave dwellers initially, evolving to Baux’s “modern” history beginning in the 10th century when the lords of the area built a fortress on the site, waging centuries of war with other lords, over the fruits of the region, namely olives, stone and vines.
Today, it’s still a formidable position on high, but with a much more peaceful outlook.
Thoughts of war have been replaced with a cornucopia Provence’s produce including lavender, olive oils of every flavour, pottery, fine linens and restaurants aplenty.
There are many Camargue salt products on offer too – it’s famed for its stunning pink salt lakes. The whole village is scented with lavender, a most delightful backdrop.
We walk from one end to the other, stopping to buy a colourful water jug and bowl, and admire the local wares.
I’m very tempted by the linens but resist and regret that later. I guess you truly can’t have it all.
At the start of our tour, the village was virtually empty, but by lunch time, it’s buzzing, everyone is relieved to be outside again. There’s a collective groan when a small sun shower hits. Luckily it’s gone as quickly as it came.
The stone is interesting here, flecked with seashells, evidence of it once being an ancient seabed.
Later in the day, bouyed by the sun, we attempt a second village, La Roque sur Ceze. On the way we pass endless vineyards painted in every autumn tone
and the town of Saint Remy de Provence, where, in hindsight we should have stopped. With its pretty setting, Roman ruins and bustling centre, it’s definitely a place I want to come back to.
A lack of parking defeats us in La Roque Sur Ceze, despite best attempts. It seems the French enjoy being trapped inside as much as I did – they’re out in force. Pity, it looked absolutely gorgeous. Yet another spot we need to come back to.