Alpilles Regional Natural Park

Located in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, the Alpilles Regional Natural Park is one of the most beautiful in France. It is famous for the limestone massif of the Alpilles and the 16 villages nearby among which charming Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Les Baux-de-Provence.

The Territory

The Alpilles Park is located in a rich natural environment filled with history. The Alpilles massif was formed when the Pyrenees and the Alps rose up. This limestone block was 10 kilometers wide and 30 kilometers long. Several successive civilizations have been shaping it for 4,000 years and have been changing the landscapes of the park over the centuries. Olive trees, vineyards and villages have progressively appeared at the base of the hills.

In 2007, this territory was named “Alpilles Regional Natural Park”. In this Natura 2000 site, everything is set up to preserve or restore the natural heritage of the site. Thanks to the various measures implemented, 13 bird species have been maintained and restored in the park.

The heritage

The mission of the Alpilles Regional Natural Park is to protect a heritage that has slowly emerged over the years. The biological, cultural, economic and social diversity is what makes this inhabited rural area so rich, singular and fragile.

In the natural park, under the Mediterranean sky, wildlife is thriving in wetlands and dry areas where it is possible to observe 250 bird species : Bonelli’s eagle, kestrel, Egyptian vulture, eagle owl, etc.

70% of the park has an olive-growing “Vallée des Baux Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” for its black and green olives, and for its quality olive oil. The region is also renowned for its locally produced goat’s cheese and honey.

Tourist sites and emblematic monuments

The archaeological site of the Oppidum des Caisses de Jean-Jean is located North of Mouriès. The vestiges date from the VIIth century BC to the IIIrd century AD. They have made it a major site, listed as a historical monument. Various objects, such as oil lamps and fibulae, were found during excavations conducted on the site. There are still a series of walls and numerous steles there.

The small village of Les Baux-de-Provence and its castle are emblematic in the region. Strolling through the picturesque alleys or in the middle of the remains of the fortress is a real medieval time travel. This site, perched on a ridge, offers a magnificent panorama of the plain.

The aqueduct and the Barbegal mills are located near Fontvieille. Parts of this ancient Roman complex were classified as historical monuments in 1886 and 1937. The aqueduct used to supply water to the city of Arles and to the Barbegal flour mill. Several arches are still standing, proudly bearing testimony to the history of the region.

Fontvieille also shelters special hypogeums: these tombs have not been dug into the ground. They are tomb excavations covered with megalithic slabs. The staircase access corridor leads to an antechamber and then to the elongated and rectangular funeral chamber.

The activities

The Alpilles park and its valleys are a paradise for walkers. Numerous hiking trails cross the massif, pine forests, garrigues, vineyards and olive groves that surround it. Hikers will discover a beautiful heritage on their way: farmhouses, wash houses, chapels and oratories. The area can also be discovered mountain biking or horseback riding. There are many equestrian centers there.

The Alpilles massif is also appreciated by climbing enthusiasts. The limestone rock offers an ideal playground to go rock climbing. From the summits, the view of this Provencal territory is magnificent.

Towns and villages of the park

68,000 inhabitants live in the 50,000 hectare Alpilles Park in one of the 16 villages in the area: Saint-Etienne-du-Grès, Aureille, Les Baux-de-Provence, Eygalières, Eyguières, Fontvieille, Mas-Blanc-des-Alpilles, Maussane-les-Alpilles, Mouriès, Orgon, Paradou, Saint-Martin-de-Crau, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Sénas and Tarascon.

Practical information

The “Maison du Parc des Alpilles” is located in an XVIIIth century Saint-Rémois bastide. It serves as a reception area for the public and offers exhibitions and meeting spaces. The aim of the Maison du Parc is to give everyone access to a wide range of information about the Alpilles area. There is a discovery trail in the bastide garden so that visitors can discover the local vegetation.

The Alpilles Regional Natural Park is easily accessible, even without a car thanks to several train stations such as the Avignon TGV station. It is also easily accessible by bus and has more than 20 cab companies.

Selection of natural parks