St. Remy-August 19: Touring a Medieval Village

At breakfast this morning, the guest from France brought us three bottles of red wine he had picked up for us from a local winery. He explained that the wine had sold over 30,000 bottles and had received a gold champion seal. He advised us to open it 1-2 hours before drinking it. We will miss the Chateau de Tauglinan. It is very peaceful and the only sound we ever heard at night was their cat protesting the visit of a neighboring cat invading his territory.

The drive to St. Remy was very pretty through wine vineyards and olive groves. Our hotel, Le Castelet des Apilles, is just as Rick Steves described it. It is "slightly tired," but its large comfortable room, balcony with sweeping views of the Alpilles, and a great central location just minutes from the town center, make it all worthwhile. In the afternoon we visited Chateau De Baux which is only 15 minutes away. Built in the 12th century 650 feet above the valley, it has an amazing panoramic view of the countryside. The chateau was once a powerful estate, but was razed in 1632 by Louis XIII who was paranoid of this power. After picking up our audio guide, we walked up the steep cobblestone lanes to the ruins. Along the way we discovered a wonderful candy store, Le Baux de Provence, with old fashion tins to fill from bins of freshly baked cookes and brightly wrapped candies. This is another perfect store for buying quality gifts. The woman in front of me easily spent over 100 euro.

Lunch was in the village at Le Varietes. We dined outside in their garden full of flowering vines and had tasty ham and cheese omelettes. We thoroughly enjoyed walking the grounds of the ruins. At 4:00 there was a catapault demonstration in French with audience participation. We then headed up to the top of the chateau and discovered the most breathtaking views. On one side was a view down to the old village whose stone buildings have been beautifully restored. "Before and after" photographs in one of the buildings shows how much the town has changed in the last 40 years. On the other side of the ruins is a panoramic view of olive groves, vineyards, and tidy farms with fields full of rolled bails of hay, all neatly surrounded by the Alpilles. As the cicadas chirped, I could have looked at this view for hours.

On the way back to St. Remy, we stopped at a winery, Caves de Sarragon, for a look back at Les Baux from their parking lot. Dinner tonight was at a cafe back in St. Remy. The food was only ok, but the walk around town to window shop made it all worthwhile.

"The Country Cat"

The Country Cat
is perched peacefully on a wall
peering down into the valley
where grapes and olives flourish.
What a magical place for a cat to live!


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