Culture & Entertainment

The most beautiful village in France: Les Baux, Provence

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

The most beautiful village in France: Les Baux, Provence

Les Baux, France: Where history and pop culture collide I first read about the medieval city of Les Baux-de-Provence when this current trip to France was still in the planning stages.  Little did I know until I set foot in the recreated medieval village that it beheld a connection to a lifelong fascination of mine: Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. Perched on a windswept plateau of cream-coloured rock in the Alpilles, the village of Les Baux-de-Provence is perfectly situated to give visitors a view of the Arles and the Camargue rivers. Thanks to the driving passions of former citizens, historians and artists who wanted to preserve the long-abandoned Les Baux, the tiny medieval village has been recreated over the last two decades, and it's just one of 150 villages throughout France to carry the 'most beautiful village" designation – which must be earned. Les Baux was voted the most beautiful village of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur by the French government in 2012 after the village successfully met a number of strict criteria, one of them being its commitment to preserving heritage of a specific region in France. A visit to Les Baux is a walk through history, but there are contemporary connections, as well. It turns out that the Marquis de Baux is none other than Prince Alfred of Monaco, the son of the late movie-star-turned-princess Grace Kelly, whose life I followed closely until her tragic death in 1982.  There are mementos of her visit to Les Baux with her son, Prince Alfred, in June of 1982, just a couple months before she died from injuries incurred in a tragic  car accident in Monaco. (Grace Kelly's televised funeral was one of the first of its kind to mesmerize millions of mourners around the world.) The title of Marquis de Baux passes, through what seems a convoluted rite of passage, from the reigning Prince of Monaco to the first male heir apparent.   Since the present Sovereign Prince of Monaco, Albert, has yet to sire a male heir,  he still carries the title. It's been like this, more or less, since 1643. Among the preserved buildings of the beautiful village are the medieval castle, the Romanesque and Renaissance Saint Vincent's Church, plus several private mansions and homes that have since been converted into artist studios and galleries. It's thought that the current population of this once-deserted village numbers around 400. But the movie star-monarchy connection is not the only pop culture element you'll encounter during a visit to Les Baux. Part of its appeal is the village's commitment to modern art and photography. In fact, during my visit, there was an exhibition of nude photographs in one of the restored buildings. In yet another, artisans handcrafted jewellery and chic dresses were for sale next to a series of photos picturing French movie directors and celebrities. Les Baux, Provence, France 1.les_baux-de-provence 6.les_baux-de-provence_9 4.les_baux_shopping_street_provence 3.les-baux-france 2.les_baux_de_provence   Things to do: Nearby is the must-see multimedia show Carriers Lumieres in a series of abandoned quarries carved into the Alpilles mountains. Where to stay: I highly recommend Hotel Benvegudo, which is less than a 10-minute drive from Les Baux-de-Provence village. How to get there: Canadians can fly, on Air Transat via Toronto and Montreal, directly to Marseilles. Or better yet, inquire about one of Transat Holiday's multi-city packages, some of which include Marseilles, Nice and Aix-en-Provence.  
Comments
Share X
Culture & Entertainment

The most beautiful village in France: Les Baux, Provence

Login