The Alpilles of Provence
The nineteen mile-long Alpilles Mountains have been heralded as a promised land from as early as 6000 BC. The Romans, whose soldiers were rewarded pieces of “Provincia Romana” as a particularly rewarding retirement plan, were followed by the infamous Seigneurs des Baux, a clan of fierce warriors that ruled over the area in the Middle Ages. It has been said that the twisted limestone cliffs of the Valley of Hell inspired Dante’s description of “Inferno”. The area was also celebrated by artists such as Nobel-Prize winning poet Frederic Mistral, Alphonse Daudet and of course, Vincent Van Gogh. Admittedly inspired by the “unique” light and “grass burnt like gold”, he created many of his greatest masterpieces here and they remain one of the greatest invitations to discover Provence.
In February 2007, the Parc Regional des Alpilles was created to protect this fragile and unique environment. Of the Park’s fifty thousand hectares, half are still used for agricultural purposes by the many small producers of wine and olive oil that not only define the character of the land but also are crucial to its livelihood. Considering that an additional twenty thousand acres are forestland, it is little surprise that, with even the slightest effort, you can find yourself in the beating heart of Provence and yet blissfully alone.