Les Baux-de-Provence – Provence – Alpes – Cote d’Azur, France

A Splendid Medieval Citadel

Cardinal Richelieu once called Les Baux-de-Provence a “nesting place for eagles.” Framed by the sheer rock ravines of the Val d’Enfer (Valley of Hell), Les Baux’s lonely position on a windswept plateau overlooks vineyards and thousands of olive trees (some planted by the Greeks and Romans) that produce some of the best limited-production wines and olive oil in the south of France.

Les Baux’s amazing collec­tion of narrow, climbing streets and medieval and 16th- and 17th-century stone houses are now home to local craftsmen who sell their wares to a steady stream of tourists. In the 17th century, Cardinal Richelieu, under orders from Louis XIII, was responsible for the destruction of what remains of the Viile Morte (Dead City); the ruins of this 13th-century cliffside castle and ramparts outside the main town are a romantic vestige of Les Baux’s glorious past.

Tucked between the crags below, the princely L’Oustau de Beaumaniere restaurant is housed in an old Provencal manor house in a verdant oasis. Dining under the vaulted ceil­ings or on the terrace, overlooking the sylvan duck ponds and partaking of L’Oustau’s fabled wine cellar are culinary experiences of a high order.

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