A hike to remember ~ St. Remy to Les Baux, Provence, France
On the hike from Remy, the ‘chimney’ surprised, the lake sparkled and the hike was most memorable.
SAINT REMY to LES BAUX, PROVENCE, FRANCE
Our day bag was packed for an overnight stay in St. Remy and today’s hike to Les Baux. The Hotel du Musée in Arles agreed to keep our backpacks for our return stay.
It was market day in Arles and as we strolled by the many open air stands we picked up cheese, sausage, carrots, strawberries and a baguette (which we also stuffed into the day bag). After learning from the tourist office there was no longer a bus to Les Baux, we walked to the train station and took the next train to Avignon and from there caught a bus to St. Remy.L’Auberge de Saint Rémy in St. Remy, we were pleased to find they had a room ready. We lightened the daypack of anything not needed and started out on our hike to Les Baux.
Using roadways, we walked south out of town.
Poppies and wildflowers dotted the fields of grass outside Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, the mental institution where Vincent Van Gogh admitted himself, after a relapse, with the request, “I wish to remain shut up as much for my own peace of mind as for other people.”
One of the institution’s doctors noted “Van Gogh suffered acute mania with hallucinations of sight and hearing.”
It was during his time here in 1889 that he painted ‘Starry Night’ and ‘Self Portrait’.
We stopped to admire the tall Mausoleum of the Julii; built around 40 BCE it is one of the best preserved mausoleums built by the Romans. Beside it stands another Roman symbol of power, the triumphal arch of Glanum (10-25 BC). These monuments stood at the northern gateway to the city of Glanum. This city fell to ruins and was abandoned after the fall of the Roman Empire and being sacked by invaders. Much of its materials went into the building the town of Saint Remy but parts of the ancient city are being restored upon the archeological site of Glanum.
With difficulty, a little luck and some scrambling up a steep road bank, we found the trailhead.
The first part of our trek was a tad challenging and we were thankful for good hiking boots.
For Sherrie, who is afraid of heights, it also required twenty minutes of quiet, calm, encouraging foot-hold by foot-hold coaching from Terry. After a high-five and a hug Terry scrambled back up so Sherrie could get a picture.
At the bottom of “The Chimney” we saw Lac du Peirrou below. The climb down was made easier by a rope hand-grip bolted into the rock face.
A little unsure as to how to proceed to Les Baux we entered into a wonderful conversation with an older gentleman who was fishing; we not speaking much French and him not speaking English. Delightful.
Many paths seemed to go off in all directions. We chose one and started down. After a time we came upon two gentlemen. “Les Baux?” we enquired pointing in the direction we were travelling. “No,” said one, “St. Remy. Les Baux …” he indicated in the direction from which we came.
We walked back together, almost to the lake, chatting in broken English and equally broken French until they indicated a narrow dirt road climbing upward.
We climbed upward … and upward still … an hour later just as we thought we had reached the crest we discovered still more up. At one point we could look back and see St. Remy and the mountain that housed “The Chimney”. They looked so distant!
Finally, after climbing a bit more, we caught a glimpse of our destination and the route we would have to take to get there … down (a relief) but then up again to the village, perched on a rock solid piece of what (after nearing) looked like Swiss cheese.
Our stay in Les Baux was but two hours … about an hour more than needed. Our taxi, as ordered earlier through the tourist office (since there was no other way to leave Les Baux except for private car or walking … and we had enough walking for one day), delivered us back to St. Remy at 20:00.
We felt we had had enough walking for one day but instead of heading straight for our room, we walked … yes, walked some more … searching for a light dinner menu. After walking the ring road around the old town, making one detour in an attempt to find the newly located tourist office, we finally gave up, went back to our room and finished the last of the picnic supplies from our day bag.
Terry continues to hike (Sherrie not so much) and the St. Remy to Les Baux trek remains a favorite.
L’AUBERGE DE SAINT RÉMY
Authentic Provençal charm marries old-world architectural features with modern comforts making each room unique and comfortable.
[A note to our readers: Since we were there, the hotel has undertaken some upgrades; changes in décor, amenities, as well as pricing.]
Address: 12 Boulevard Mirabeau, 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Phone: +33 4 90 92 15 33
Website (English): www.aubergesaintremy.com
ARLES ~ HÔTEL DU MUSEE
We may forget some things about Hotel du Musée but well remember the tranquil surroundings, their attention to detail and how they made us feel welcome and at ease. Travelling can be tiring sometimes with so much ‘new’ to take in; time spent at Hotel du Musée allows the body and the mind to rest in preparation for another day of travel discoveries.
Address: 11 Rue du Grand Prieuré – 13200 ARLES
Phone: 00 33 (0)4 90 93 88 88
Website (English): www.hoteldumusee.com
HIKING AROUND ST REMY
OFFICE DE TOURISME SAINT RÉMY DE PROVENCE
La draille [hiking] maps of routes in the area.
Address: Pl. Jean Jaurès, 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Phone: +33 4 90 92 05 22
Fax: 04 90 92 38 52
Website: Saint Remy Tourist Office – Re Hiking maps