Tour of the Alpilles, olives, villages and more
Art of living - Off the beaten tracks - Wine and gastronomy
There's a lot to see in the Alpilles, so it's a race against the clock if you hope to fit it all in. The humble olive is the star of the region and tours and tastings are available at plenty of local estates. For lunch, get a table at Le Patio, totally devoted to regional produce and set in a former sheep fold. Les Olivades is devoted to the manufacture of Provençal fabric. To stretch your legs, walk around Aureille, Orgon and Chiari cheese dairy. A visit to Saint-Rémy isn't complete without enjoying a sumptuous treat from the Lilamand confectioner's. Ready? Steady... Go!
Saint-Etienne-du-Grès: Les Olivades, makers of Provençal fabric
Les Olivades 5 avenue Barberin 13103 Saint Etienne du Grès
Continue on your way to Saint-Etienne-du-Grès which is home to the last remaining factory in Provence keeping alive the tradition of printing on fabric, invented in Marseille in 1648. The factory shop is open to visitors and stocks a selection of high-end merchandise, all Made in France, ranging from ready-to-wear and accessories to bags and tableware.
Wine and olives at Château d’Estoublon in Fontvieille
Domaine et Moulin du Château d'Estoublon Route De Maussane 13990 Fontvieille
Made famous in Les Lettres de Mon Moulin, Daudet mill in Fontvieille is your next stop. The village is also an opportunity to explore the grounds of Château d'Estoublon, a wine and olive oil producer. This artisanal company is set in a well-preserved Provençal mansion from the 18th century and is well worth a detour! A fine delicatessen stocks wine and oils made on site and local pastries that gourmets will appreciate.
Fontvieille: sophisticated fare at Le Patio
Le Patio 117 route Du Nord 13990 Fontvieille
After a busy morning of visits, lunch is well deserved. Le Patio comes highly recommended (2 toques in the Gault & Millau Guide). Set in a former sheep fold and decorated in a tasteful rustic style, Le Patio offers creative gourmet dishes, all made with Provençal ingredients, including the famous Alpilles lamb baked in AOC Crau hay, and a regularly updated menu which changes with the availability of produce and the seasons.
Les Baux: a breath of fresh air at Moulin Castelas
Moulin Castelas Mas de l'Olivier Quartier Fréchier 13520 Les Baux de Provence
Continue your walk at Moulin Castelas, at the foot of Château des Baux. The Hugues are a couple of passionate farmers who lovingly produce AOP Vallée des Baux-de-Provence olive oils from their 45-hectare olive grove. You can visit the mill and the production facility where you can taste the different varieties of oil and browse the charming farm shop which is bursting with sun-drenched scents of Provence.
Aureille: a pretty village among the rocks
Village d'Aureille 13930 Aureille
Carry on down the route that borders the Alpilles Regional Nature Park in the direction of the charming village of Aureille that is well worth the detour. It's an old fortified village bursting with charm. Many of its stone houses have been recently renovated which you can see as you stroll around the narrow lanes. The ruins of a Medieval castle watch over the village from the brow of a hill. There is also a cute little parish church to visit. To see if you have the time.
Eyguières: cheese tasting at the Chiari dairy
Fromagerie Chiari Chemin Du Mas d'Espagne 13430 Eyguières
A little further afield is Eyguières and the Chiari cheese dairy. Its herd of white Saanen goats live in the open air and feed on the exceptional land, the secret to excellent milk. The milk is then transformed into fresh or matured cheeses, some of which are flavoured with olive oil, thyme and garlic. Top tip: visit at 6 pm on any day to see the goats being milked. Something to keep the kids occupied!
Orgon: tradition and luxury at Domaine de Valdition
Domaine de Valdition Route D'Eygalières 13660 Orgon
Next head to Orgon, en route passing Notre-Dame-de-Beauregard Chapel that looks over the valley. Don't miss Domaine de Valdition, an estate set in a walled village surrounded by ancient trees, where you can taste exquisite olive oil and wine. Its Pays des Alpilles wine makes a delicious gift to take home as a souvenir of your time in Provence.
Saint-Rémy: a gourmet pit stop in the Alpilles
Confiserie Lilamand 5 avenue Albert Schweitzer 13210 Saint Rémy de Provence
To conclude a busy day, return to Saint-Rémy for a well-earned meal. And don't forget to pop into Lilamand confectioner's on Avenue Albert Schweitzer, renowned for its glacé fruits to enjoy there and then or to take home with you if you can resist the temptation! Confectioner Pierre Lilamand still uses Nostradamus' recipe to make his fruity specialities including calissons, jams and more.
- Taking a stroll to admire traditional stone houses in Provençal villages
- Stocking up on sun-drenched local produce (at Saint-Rémy's market day every Wednesday)
- Being spoilt for choice (wine, olive oil, cheese, candied fruit) and packing your bags with high-quality products to remember your trip all through the year
- Comparing olive oils from the Alpilles made by different producers and becoming an expert
The best time to visit
- Autumn for the olive harvest
- Late November to get into the Christmas spirit at Orgon's traditional market (Place de la Liberté)
- Whit Monday to take part in Saint-Rémy's transhumance festival with all the farmers in the region
Art of living, Off the beaten tracks, Wine and gastronomy
Saint Rémy de Provence, Saint Etienne du Grès, Fontvieille, Les Baux de Provence, Mouriès, Aureille, Eygalières, Eyguières, Orgon
All year round
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