Open-Air Museums of Les Baux de Provence in the Heart of the Alpilles

Exploring the open-air museums in Les Baux de Provence turned out to be the highlight of our visit to this ancient village. Perched on a limestone hill in the Alpilles, Les Baux de Provence has a great location that treats visitors to awesome views across the plain, extending southward to the Mediterranean, and the picturesque Alpilles rocky landscape.

Situated between Arles and St Remy-de-Provence, this picturesque medieval village looks like grown out of the rock from a distance. The expansive fortified-chateau area crowns the highest point of the village, playing a crucial role in fortifying and safeguarding the community against potential threats.

Open-air museums in Les Baux de Provence

While planning our two-week summer road trip across southern Provence, we were caught by the idea of an art-inspired light show. After a quick investigation, we discovered that this spectacle awaited us at Les Carrières de Lumières, conveniently located just down the road near Les Baux de Provence. Therefore, this find expanded our visit to include an exploration of three open-air museums amidst the charming ambiance of Les Baux de Provence.

  • The ancient village of Les Baux de Provence
  • Chateau des Baux
  • The Quarries of Lights (Les Carrières de Lumières)
Place du Prince Rainier III de Monaco; Les Baux de Provence
Place du Prince Rainier III de Monaco; Les Baux de Provence

The ancient village of Les Baux de Provence

The village stretches out along a steep hillside, with a valley and steep rock walls descended on the west side. The main entrance is on Rue Porte Maga. Entering through Rue Porte Maga, we saw the tourist office on the left and the significant Musée des Santons on the right, exhibiting intricately crafted figurines from Naples depicting Provencal traditions.

Navigating the village centre, we reached the quaint Place du Prince Rainier III de Monaco with old stone buildings. As we followed Rue de Chateau towards the castle ticket office, we discovered Saint-Vincent Square next to the Penitents Chapel, an attractive site as well.

Les Baux de Provence has plenty of charming cafes and gift shops, offering many local treasures. While my husband and son focused on capturing moments through their lenses, I wandered through the local shops that sell treasures from Provence and the Mediterranean area, such as olive oils, truffles, balsamic vinegar, biscuits, salts, and pepper. And I also found tapenades, which I bought on the other day in Aix-en-Provence.

Les Baux de Provence’s steep hillside layout, ancient stone structures, and scenic surroundings contribute to its resemblance to an open-air museum. Engaging in cultural and culinary exploration, the village serves as a living museum of Provencal traditions.

Facade decorations; Open-Air Museums in Les Baux de Provence
A narrow alley leads to unknow place; things to do in Les Baux de Provence

Chateau de Baux

The Chateau sits at the summit of the village, sprawling across an extensive area, rivaling the village in size. Greeting us at the Chateau’s entrance were the White Penitents chapel and the Saint-Vincent church, both standing proudly in Saint-Vincent square. The Chateau grounds offered a mix of history and leisure, featuring full-scale replicas of medieval weapons like the Trebuchet and catapult, set against the backdrop of troglodyte caves. We also noted that the site offers many picnic areas.  

Following a left turn and ascending stony steps, we passed the troglodyte caves, arriving at the base of towering walls and fortress ruins. Within the Chateau grounds, staff members engaged in the fascinating demonstration of arch calculation, employing age-old methods from the medieval era. They illustrated these ancient techniques through the application of simple geometric theories.

Ascending weathered stone steps at two different locations, we made our way to the summit of high rocky ridges. Despite the erosion on these ancient paths, we navigated carefully, especially on staircases demanding urgent attention. Clinging to iron railings for support, we ascended the Paravelle Tower, where we enjoyed an overlook of the courtyard on one side and the valley on the other.

However, with the temperature soaring to around 35°C, limiting our exploration to an hour, we chose not to ascend the other ridge. Longing for coolness, we exited the village through Eyguières Gate, strolling down towards the main road that cut through solid rocks, offering a welcome retreat from the heat.

The Chapel of Saint Blaise on the ground of Chateau de Baux
Chateau de Baux; Open-Air Museums in Les Baux de Provence

The Quarries of Lights (Les Carrières de Lumières)

Carrières de Lumières, nestled within an ancient quarry, is a digital exhibition of the great artworks from the world’s famous artists. Initially, the limestone extracted from this very quarry stood as the foundational material for constructing the medieval village of Les Baux de Provence and the formidable Chateau de Baux. As time progressed and modern building materials like steel and concrete emerged, offering more economic alternatives to stone, the demand for limestone declined, leading to the eventual closure of the quarry.

Since 2012, the quarry has been holding the digital projection that immerses visitors in a visual and musical universe. Spanning a vast surface area of 7,000 m² from floor to ceiling, with walls reaching a towering sixteen metres, the quarry becomes a canvas for large, luminous images. It’s akin to experiencing a colossal slideshow in the heart of darkness.

In the year 2020, the spotlight was on the masterpieces of Dali and Gaudi. As the show started, we found ourselves enveloped in a symphony of colours, images, and sounds. When weariness set in, we could comfortably perch on one of the natural stone seats, surrounded by a spaciousness that shielded us from the bustling crowds. The show, lasting around 30 to 40 minutes, allowed us to linger inside at our leisure. Besides, the cool and refreshing atmosphere offered a comfortable break, reviving our bodies after spending nearly two hours under the sun in the village and Chateau grounds. This disused quarry stands out as a distinctive venue, attracting visitors of all ages.

Light show in Les Carrières de Lumières; The Quarries of Lights
Les Carrières de Lumières; Open-Air Museums in Les Baux de Provence

Where to stay

Aside from the open-air museums in Les Baux de Provence, the village also has several indoor museums that are well worth exploring. If you decide to make Les Baux de Provence your base for exploring Arles, St. Remy-de-Provence, or other charming hilltop villages in Luberon, you’ll find a plethora of accommodation options to choose from:

  • Nestled within a vast 100-hectare golf course, Domaine De Manville is a luxurious haven with its hotel and spa offerings.
  • For those seeking a budget-friendly option with an excellent location, Maison de la Fontaine provides comfortable accommodation.
  • In the heart of Les Baux de Provence, Baumanière beckons with its culinary delights. Boasting two Michelin-starred restaurants – L’Oustau de Baumanière and La Cabro – along with two dining rooms, a lounge-bar, and several inviting terraces, it promises a delightful gastronomic experience.


  1. What a lovely place! I love France and have visited it many times Provence, but I didn’t know this place. I fix it for my next trip, thx for you sharing ?

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