It was a blustery winter day, the mistrals fiercely blowing with puffy gray clouds swirling in circles above and the rays of the usually warm Provence sun were missing. The kind of winter day when it almost feels like it could snow, cold and damp, Mother Nature deciding whether or not her snowflakes will fall. It was a family winter outing to visit a new village, Les Baux de Provence, and a spectacular art exhibition showcased there, Les Carrières de Lumières.
We packed into the cars for the slow ride through the windy and winding Provence countryside. Driving into Les Baux de Provence, the first sight of view is the ruins situated high atop a hill, a flag elegantly blowing in the wind, offering a window for the imagination to enter the past so ever present here. Located in the foothills of the Alpilles Mountains, Les Baux is tiny, comprised of the old village and the former castle, and is designated as one of "the most beautiful villages of France.”
Christmas trees covered in powdery, pretend snow greeted us on our arrival to the village entrance. Narrow cobblestoned streets lined with medieval buildings wind their way up the steep hillside reaching a plateau where the old church sits. Restored and in ruins, you can feel the age and history that pervade throughout this village. The mistrals kept us from visiting the château fortress perched high above and spanning the entire breadth of the village, but nonetheless the old village itself offers a view into the life once so present here, also boasting magnificent views the valley below and rock formations carved into neighboring hills.
Les Baux showcases its medieval heritage throughout, although it is now dotted with shops, restaurants and galleries, albeit a bit touristy. We admired the ancientness and beauty, eating roasted chestnuts while meandering her narrow lanes and photobombing each other as families will do. Ducking into the first restaurant for lunch, a hearty glass of red wine and bowl of hot Provençal soup for me, we shared photos and conversed the hour away while warming our frozen fingers.
A new village and a day of new explorations. Running to escape the wind, our breath fogged the car windows as we huddled to make our way home. As usual, the history of Provence fills me with more appreciation for its beauty and its history, for those that walked before us and for today. Puttering to make our way back down the hill, we stopped to admire the breathtaking view. The valley below and the mountains lying in the distance giving the impression that the blue of the Mediterranean was hiding in the horizon...