The Alpilles mountain range, which stands in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in Provence, is a geographical extension of the Luberon and the Alps (from which it takes its name). This limestone mountain range is surrounded by the towns of Arles, Avignon and Salon de Provence. These small Alpilles mountains stretch for approximately 40 kilometres between the rivers Rhone and Durance, towering above La Crau and the Rhodanian plains. The highest point is the Tour des Opies at 498 m.
Olive groves and fertile vineyards are dotted about the entire length of this blue-tinged mountain range. Heading towards the peaks, you will notice three different types of landscape: dry grasslands (shaped by agricultural and sheep farming activity over the centuries), evergreen oak and pine forests and gaudres (small, often short-lived mountain streams) and wet meadows. This varied habitat brings about diverse flora and fauna here in the Alpilles mountain range, the most well-known of which are the Bonelli’s eagle and the bat, found in the form of various species. In order to protect and make the most of these natural treasures, the Parc Naturel Régional des Alpilles [Alpilles regional nature park] was established in January 2007.
The Alpilles mountain range towers over many typically Provencal towns and villages such as Maillane, Graveson, Barbentane and Châteaurenard, etc. Humans have left many historical reminders of their settlement in this region. Firstly, ancient sites such as the “Plateau des Antiques” and the historical city of Glanum near St Rémy de Provence. To the south, the unmissable Baux-de-Provence citadel gives the landscape an ancient feel, making visitors think that they have been transported back in time to the Middle Ages.
This region is now well-known for its AOC Vallée des Baux olive oil and its broken green olives. Locally grown wines are on a par with the best Provencal vintages. A dozen domaines now have AOC status. Coteaux des Baux and many others welcome visitors.
The beauty of this region attracted the famous regionalist authors Alphonse Daudet and Frédéric Mistral. This region also inspired some of the most renowned artists, such as Van Gogh, who created some of his masterpieces (sunflowers and cypress trees) in Saint-Rémy de Provence.
You will relish your holidays in the rich Alpilles mountains, surrounded by nature, ancient stones and traditions, whilst soaking up some rays in the sunny south of France...
Our suggestions … What to see/do in the Alpilles mountains
Discover an area of the Alpilles mountains on board the “Petit train des Alpilles” scenic train. This is an enchanting train trip from Arles to Fontvielle, via Montmajour Abbey (11th-18th centuries).
The Alphonse Daudet Museum, set up in the famous mill on a peak linked to the mountain range, on the road to Arles.
The Cathédrale d’Images in Les Baux-de-Provence. This is a former mine, the quarries in Les Baux-de-Provence now having been transformed into an important centre for cultural activities. Shows are put on here using a 4000 m² white stone area and 45 audio-visual projection sources which bring the whole area alive from the floor to the ceiling. There is a different show every year.
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