The town of Les Baux-de-Provence overlooks Arles and the Camargue and boasts exceptional views. The name of Les Baux-de-Provence comes from the Occitan baus (pron ‘baws’), which means ‘vertical’, ‘cliff’ or ‘rocky spur’. Baux stretches back to pre-history, and its defensive capabilities have always made it an attractive site for human settlement. Traces of habitation have been found dating to 6000 BC, including the Costapéra cave, which was discovered in 1928 and which harbours a Bronze Age group burial site. The route from Les Baux to the plain to the north of the Alpilles follows a proto-historic path that crosses the small valley of Laval to the town of Glanon, later known as Glanum (Saint-Rémy-de-Provence). Although proto-history is heavily characterised by pastoralism and agriculture in the Alpilles, limestone was extracted from the quarries around Les Baux. In the second half of the first Iron Age (6th to 7th century B.C.), the population became settled and began to erect permanent structures in the style of a village with streets and terraced houses. The inhabitants of the Alpilles became more outward-looking as trade and exchange intensified with the Mediterranean and, over the following centuries, the population fell substantially as people were attracted to the Greek trading post of Arles. In the Middle Ages Les Baux became the stronghold of a feudal domain that controlled 79 towns and villages in the area. The fortress was built in the 11th to 13th centuries over seven hectares. It had a turbulent military history and was attacked on several occasions. The solid tower that dominates to this day recalls the importance of the château, which was an object of great desire during the Middle Ages. The princes of Baux controlled Provence for many years and earned a strong reputation in the region. It was said that the descendants of the magus king Balthazar added a silver star with sixteen branches to their arms as a reminder of the star that, according to the Gospel, guided the three wise men to Bethlehem. Their motto was: ‘Au hasard, Balthazar’ – ‘Trust to luck, Balthazar.’ The Baux princes were forced to lay down their arms in the 12th century at the conclusion of the Baussenque Wars, and their influence finally came to an end in the 15th century on the death of the last princess of Baux. Les Baux was granted to the Grimaldi family in 1642 as a French marquisiate, established on behalf of Hercule de Grimaldi, prince of Monaco (1642-1780). Although, in administrative terms, the town is entirely French, the title of Marquis des Baux still belongs to the Grimaldi family and is traditionally given to the heir to the throne of Monaco. The current prince of Monaco, Albert II, includes Marquis des Baux amongst his many titles. The geologist Pierre Berthier discovered bauxite in the region in 1822, and the aluminium ore was mined intensively until it ran out at the end of the 20th century. The village of Les Baux gave its name to the ore that was unearthed here for the first time. Make sure that you visit the very top of the village to see the wonderful views. Here you can also find numerous historical re-enactments to immerse yourself in the past, thanks to the performances staged by the current operator Culturespaces.