Let me tell you a little something about my best friend Devon. She’s a nerd. And I love her for it because I’m a nerd too, just in a different way. We both love learning, but Devon is a special kind of nerd – she’s a history nerd. For example, during a 12th grade trip we took to D.C. to perform at the Kennedy Center with the competition choir (see? we’re nerds. And this was 10+ years before Glee, people) Devon spent her “free afternoon” taking a guided tour of the Kennedy Center. By herself. The rest of us were out getting into trouble like normal 17 year olds.
So when preparing for Devon’s visit in late July, I knew I needed to find some cool part of France’s ancient history to share with her. I also wanted to pick something a little closer to home than the travels we had been doing because it was getting hotter outside, I was getting bigger, and quite honestly I wasn’t sure how many more 4+ hour road trips in a car without AC that I could take.
So I did some research before Devon’s arrival and found a nearby town in Provence called Les Baux. Rick Steves described Les Baux as having a “tumultuous medieval history,” which I knew Devon would love. The town consists of castle ruins as well as a little village and it was the perfect place to go for the afternoon. There were old weapons, a seriously old, broken down city and castle from the Middle Ages, incredible views, and charming town full of beautiful provençal treasures and yummy restaurants. In a way, it was like Carcassonne, but I liked Les Baux much better. In fact, we all loved it here. It just felt much more authentic while Carcassonne felt a bit contrived, like visiting Epcott or Busch Gardens.
A few notes – the walk up from the parking lot to the town and ruins is no joke. Maybe it was being 7.5 months pregnant or maybe it was the insane mistral winds, which were particularly strong that day, but it took me a while to get to the top. Bring water. And poor Devon, who wore a cute little sundress for the trip, spent approximately 90% of her time trying to hold the skirt down against the wind. Moral of the story: wear pants.
We picked up an audio guide and spent the next few hours walking around the ruins and learning about the 11th century city that once housed 4,000 people. Once we had absorbed enough ancient history for the day, we enjoyed a nice lunch of crêpes and ice cream, did a little shopping, and continued on our to our next stop in Provence: Arles.
Adventures to be continued!