Culture & Patrimoine

  • 1 Maison du Roy - Tourist Office

    Until the French Revolution, the town of Les Baux was the centre of both royal and lordly jurisdiction and, for many years, it was dispensed from this building, the "King's House", built in 1499. Justice was meted out here in the sovereign's name. In the 19th century, an opening was made in the ramparts behind the buildings, giving the town the entrance we see today. The King's House is now the home of the Tourist Office.

  • 2 The Museum of Santons

    Exceptional closure 

    The museum of "santons" (figures for the Christmas crib) contains a vast number of exhibits including some outstanding figurines made in Naples, scenes illustrating the traditions of Provence and Les Baux linked to the Nativity and a documentary film on the manufacture of these figures.

     

    The museum houses several different collections - Neapolitan figurines from the 17th and 18th centuries, 19th-century "santons" for churches whose painted papier mâché faces and glass sulphur eyes were made by the Carmelite convent in Avignon and figures by famous makers such as Carbonnel, Fouque, Jouve, Peyron Campagna, Toussaint, Thérèse Neveu, Louise Berger, Simone Jouglas etc.

     

    The traditional ceremony of the Shepherds' Offering, known locally as the "Pastrage", is staged against the background of Les Baux de Provence, in front of the village church. A traditional Provençal Christmas crib and the everyday life of a 19th-century family are shown in two large windows. For children, a crowd of small brightly-coloured, naively-painted santons is placed at a height that they can reach. 

     

    "Making a santon is like playing at being God the Father and, like Him, producing a man from clay." This beautifully-phrased sentence by historian Marcel Provençal summarises the work of the santon-maker very well and expresses all the magic of creativity.

     

    The Former Guardroom

    The building that houses the Santons Museum was built over the old town walls. It was purchased by the Community of Les Baux in 1619 and used successively as a guardroom, school, court and Town Hall from the mid 17th-century to 1960.
    The building was partly rebuilt in 1657. Elegant ribbed vaulting was erected beyond the beautiful Renaissance vaulting that already existed. The basement still contains two dungeons built in the 16th century and used as prison cells until the French Revolution.

    No admission charge

    Information

    Tourist Office
    Tel +33 (0)4 90 54 34 39 
    tourisme@lesbauxdeprovence.com

  • 3 Eyguieres Gate
    Visitors wishing to walk to the Fontaine Valley can take the cobbled Chemin de la Calade and go through the Eyguières Gate (or Watergate) which, until 1866, was the only entrance to the village. Rebuilt by Constable de Montmorency, the gate was raised in the 18th century by the Prince of Monaco who had been granted the Barony of Les Baux in 1643. The coat-of-arms of the House of Grimaldi can still be seen above the gate, in a cartouche decorated with Baroque foliage. The gate still has its system of defence and its overhanging battlements pierced with slit windows. A second, larger guardroom was built to the north of the Eyguières Gate; it now houses the Santons Museum.
     
     
    HOUSE OF GRIMALDI
    From 1643 to 1790, when the title had been raised to that of a Marquisate, the town became a Grimaldi possession and the family still retains this honorary title in its armorial.
    Coat-of-arms of the House of Grimaldi: Fusily argent and gules shield, surrounded by the Collar of the Order of St. Charles placed on a red cloak lined with ermine and surmounted by the princely crown.
    Supporters: two Friars Minor, hairy, bearded and wearing shoes, each holding a raised sword and standing on a scroll charged with the motto "Deo Juvante" (With God's Help).

    Visitors wishing to walk to the Fontaine Valley can take the cobbled Chemin de la Calade and go through the Eyguières Gate (or Watergate) which, until 1866, was the only entrance to the village. Rebuilt by Constable de Montmorency, the gate was raised in the 18th century by the Prince of Monaco who had been granted the Barony of Les Baux in 1643. The coat-of-arms of the House of Grimaldi can still be seen above the gate, in a cartouche decorated with Baroque foliage. The gate still has its system of defence and its overhanging battlements pierced with slit windows. A second, larger guardroom was built to the north of the Eyguières Gate; it now houses the Santons Museum.

     

    House of Grimaldi

    From 1643 to 1790, when the title had been raised to that of a Marquisate, the town became a Grimaldi possession and the family still retains this honorary title in its armorial.
    Coat-of-arms of the House of Grimaldi: Fusily argent and gules shield, surrounded by the Collar of the Order of St. Charles placed on a red cloak lined with ermine and surmounted by the princely crown.
    Supporters: two Friars Minor, hairy, bearded and wearing shoes, each holding a raised sword and standing on a scroll charged with the motto "Deo Juvante" (With God's Help).
     
  • 4 Porcelet Mansion - Yves Brayer Museum
    MUSEE YVES BRAYER (1907 - 1990)
    The museum contains a retrospective look at the works of Yves Brayer. It is an outstanding collection because of the quality and rarity of the one hundred or more works covering almost sixty years of the artist's career. Beside Provençal landscapes hang paintings inspired by Spain and Italy. They focus on the main subjects dear to the heart of Yves Brayer, one of the most representative painters of contemporary figuration.
     
    As with other fellow painters of the inter-war years, Yves Brayer devoted a large part of his work to making a record of the then everyday life. While recognizing the pictorial tendencies of late 19th century and early 20th painting, some painters preferred follow the path led by Vuillard and Bonnard, as did the "Réalité Poétique" group, or the path of admirers of Courbet's work, such as the "Forces Nouvelles" movement. Although Brayer was always independent, he was on friendly terms with such painters such as Francis Gruber, founder of "Nouveau Réalisme", the New French Realism of the 50s made famous by Bernard Buffet.
    Yves Brayer was born in Versailles in 1907. Upon his arrival in Paris in 1924, he set out for the academies in Montparnasse and, from there, for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. While he is still a student, his works are displayed at the "Salon d'Automne" and the "Salon des Indépendant". In 1927, Yves Brayer is awarded a state grant and he leaves for Spain. After a stay in Morocco supported by a prize created by Maréchal Lyautey, he is awarded the Grand Prix de Rome in 1930. At first nostalgic of Spain, Yves Brayer is then deeply engaged by the richness of Italian life in the early 1930s.
    Back in Paris in 1934, he assembles his work for an exhibition at the Galerie Charpentier, faubourg Saint-Honoré, where the public audience discovers the authenticity, the powerful and the original character, of this 27-year-old painter.
     
    The year 1945 marks a turning point in his career. In Provence, he is truck by the architectural harmony of the country side.  Soon, he decides to spend several months in Provence every year. Strongly attracted to Mediterranean landscapes, Brayer returns to work in Spain and Italy, but Provence and Camargue remain his favorite places until the end of his life.
    During his various trip to Mexico, Egypt, Iran, Greece, Russia, the United States and Japan, he is quick to seize the rhythms and lights of these countries, which he renders in numerous drawings and watercolors.
    Yves Brayer's work is represented in various museums and numerous collections both in France and abroad. In September 1991, the muse Yves Brayer is inaugurated in les Baux-de-Provence.
    Opening hours :
    April to September, open every day from 10.00 am to 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm to 6.30 pm
    October to December and March, open every day except Tuesday, from 11.00 am to 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm.
    Annual closure January and February
    Admission Fees
    Adults : 5 € per person
    Groups : 3 € per person
     
    Tel  33 (0)4 90 54 36 99
    Fax 33 (0)1 46 33 41 18    
    More information: www.yvesbrayer.com

    Porcelet Mansion

    This fine late 16th century mansion has an original façade and elegant, finely carved room decorated with 17th century paintings depicting the Four Seasons and the alergies of the Four Cardinal Virtues (Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance and Wisdom). On the first floor, one room has kept its French-style ceiling decorated with floral motifs in shimmering colours.  In a medallion on the fireplace, a fresco depicts a mythologiel scene: the Fall of Phaeton struck doxn by Zeus.

    Yves Brayer Museum

    The museum contains a retrospective look at the works of Yves Brayer. It is an outstanding collection because of the quality and rarity of the one hundred or more works covering almost sixty years of the artist's career. Beside Provençal landscapes hang paintings inspired by Spain and Italy. They focus on the main subjects dear to the heart of Yves Brayer, one of the most representative painters of contemporary figuration.

    Yves Brayer was born in Versailles in 1907. Upon his arrival in Paris in 1924, he set out for the academies in Montparnasse and, from there, for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. While he is still a student, his works are displayed at the "Salon d'Automne" and the "Salon des Indépendant". In 1927, Yves Brayer is awarded a state grant and he leaves for Spain. After a stay in Morocco supported by a prize created by Maréchal Lyautey, he is awarded the Grand Prix de Rome in 1930. At first nostalgic of Spain, Yves Brayer is then deeply engaged by the richness of Italian life in the early 1930s.

    The year 1945 marks a turning point in his career. In Provence, he is truck by the architectural harmony of the country side.  Soon, he decides to spend several months in Provence every year. Strongly attracted to Mediterranean landscapes, Brayer returns to work in Spain and Italy, but Provence and Camargue remain his favorite places until the end of his life.
    During his various trip to Mexico, Egypt, Iran, Greece, Russia, the United States and Japan, he is quick to seize the rhythms and lights of these countries, which he renders in numerous drawings and watercolors.
    In September 1991, the Yves Brayer Museum is inaugurated in les Baux-de-Provence.
     

    Exhibition → Henri CARTIER-BRESSON “The Mind's Eye
    From 5th June to 28th September 2017

    The Brayer museum is hosting an exhibition entitled "The Mind's Eye" consisting of 54 iconic photographs taken by the "Eye of the Century" who stated that, "For me, photography means aligning head, eye and heart. It is a way of life."
    The exhibition is being organised jointly with the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson and Magnum Photos.

     

    Opening hours

    April to September, open every day from 10.00 am to 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm to 6.30 pm
    October to December and March, open every day except Tuesday, from 11.00 am to 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm.

    Annual closure → January and February

     

    Admission Fees

    Adults → 8€ per person, Groups → 4€ per person, under 18 years → free
     

    Information

    Tel  +33 (0)4 90 54 36 99
    Fax +33 (0)1 46 33 41 18

    www.yvesbrayer.com

  • 5 The Penitents' Chapel
    On Place de l'église, on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Fontaine Valley, stands the chapel built in the mid 17th century by the Brotherhood of White Penitents. It was raised from the ruins in 1937 by the Brotherhoods of Langue d'Oc and dedicated to St. Estelle who has been asked to watch over the memory of the old penitents from Les Baux. The huge doorway decorated with rusticated masonry and topped by a low relief showing two penitents kneeling and bearing the chiselled inscription, "In nomine Jesu omne genus flectatur" (In the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow).
    The interior of the chapel, which once had ribbed vaulting, is decorated with frescoes by Yves Brayer (1974) representing the Shepherds' Christmas in the Provençal tradition.

    On the church square, on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Fontaine Valley, stands the chapel built in the mid 17th century by the Brotherhood of White Penitents. It was raised from the ruins in 1937 by the Brotherhoods of Langue d'Oc and dedicated to St. Estelle who has been asked to watch over the memory of the old penitents from Les Baux. The huge doorway decorated with rusticated masonry and topped by a low relief showing two penitents kneeling and bearing the chiselled inscription, "In nomine Jesu omne genus flectatur" (In the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow).

     

    The interior of the chapel, which once had ribbed vaulting, is decorated with frescoes by Yves Brayer (1974) representing the Shepherds' Christmas in the Provençal tradition.
     
  • 6 Saint Vincent's Church
    The old village had three churches - St. Andrew's in the Fontaine Valley which was the first parish church (it no longer exists), Notre-Dame-du-Château also known as St. Catherine's Chapel (12th-16th centuries) within the walls of the fortress, and St. Vincent's Church.

    Once a priory dependent on Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint-Rémy de Provence, the 12th-century building is typical of the constructions in Les Baux with its southern section built half into the rock. The nave, which has ribbed barrel vaulting, was extended eastwards in 1609 without breaking the Romanesque harmony of the building as a whole. Inside are some modern stained-glass windows by Max Ingrand (1960), a gift from Prince Rainier III of Monaco. There is also the funeral chapel of the Manville family with Flamboyant Gothic vaulting and, in the chapel dug into the rock, the ceremonial cart used for the "pastrage" ceremony during Midnight Mass when the cart carries the newborn lamb offered to the Baby Jesus by the shepherds.

     

    Outside, the West Front underwent extensive alteration during the 19th-century restoration work which, in particular, changed the flight of steps that used to run along the wall (there are traces of its removal). Above the doorway and a rounded window, there is a superb sculpture of a lion. On the South side, the Lantern of the Deceased is an elegant circular turret topped by a cupola decorated with gargoyles. Tradition has it that a fire was lit in the turret whenever somebody from Les Baux passed away.

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