Les Baux-de-Provence

Mistral is a famous northwesterly wind in the south of France.

Frédéric Mistral is a Nobel Price winning writer and poet – who led the movement to revive Provencal language and literature in the late 19th century.

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Walking on Grand Rue Frédéric Mistral, in a cold blustery day, is a mere coincidence.

Set in the foothills of the Alpilles mountain range, where bauxite (an aluminium ore) was first discovered, Les Baux de Provence is one of the most beautiful villages in France.

This tiny medieval village attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year. But it becomes completely deserted in the dead of winter.

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Perched high above the village is Château des Baux – a fortified castle – built in the 10th century, flourished during Middle Ages, twice demolished by the French king.

From the castle ground, you get a panoramic view of the northern slopes of Alpilles and Val d’Enfer (Valley of Hell) -Dante is said to have used it as the landscape for his Inferno.

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Above the high cliff, the mistral blows 100 days a year, with an average speed of 31 mph.

Nevertheless, it does wonders to clear away pollution and clouds – providing the clarity and light that draws many artists to Provence

whose works are displayed in the spectacular 40-minute sound and light show inside the limestone quarries, where Jean Cocteau filmed his last movie Le Testament d’Orphée in 1959.

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The road leading up to Les Baux winds through vineyards and olive groves.

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Grapevines at Mas Ste Berthe Vineyard in afternoon sun

Moulin Castelas is an award-winning olive mill that offers free tour of the facility, followed by oil tasting. Its owner Catherine and Jean-Benoît Hugues, lived in Arizona for 15 year, before returning to Provence to dedicate themselves to their passion for olive trees.

“Quand on naît en Provence, on ne peut pas vivre sans les senteurs de la garrigue, le souffle du Mistral, la caresse du Soleil et la magie de l’olivier, cet arbre millénaire, à la grâce ondoyante, qui façonne le paysage”
Catherine et Jean-Benoît Hugues, oliverons aux Baux de Provence

“When one is born in Provence, one can not live without the scents of the garrigue, the breath of the Mistral, the caress of the Sun and the magic of the olive tree, this millennial tree, with the undulating grace that shapes the landscape”

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