Tuesday, May 31, 2011

31.05.11 Les Baux – Montmajour – Bull’s Meat

31.05.11 Les Baux – Montmajour – Bull’s Meat

Action on Les Baux. More pics here
Not the best of weather today. Twenty degrees yes but generally cloudy and often windy. Still, we were out and about.

We became statistics at the amazing hilltop fortress of Les Baux de Provence, joining the two million visitors per year. The site dates back to the 10th century and is a lively visit with some tough walking required and ancient war machines in action. Views are fantastic here. Here also we had our first view of the region’s Santons, handmade figures usually in local costume, particularly famous for their crib scenes.
Our afternoon visit also has 10th century links. The Montmajour Abbey is massive, very impressive indeed and just about 3 kilometres from our base. Admission is 7 euro a head and well worth it.
There are many highlights in this imposing place but the one that really engaged me was the burial places in the rock (see photo).  Fascinating. Also great views, just like Baux. Got my first glimpse of a bunch of Camargue ponies from here and Arles was also clearly visible.
In between, we had visited a Roman Aqueduct. No. Not the famous one at Pont du Gard but one just down the road from us in Fontvieille. Indeed, the road is called the Aqueduct Romaine. It is not in anywhere near as good condition as Gard but quite an impressive reminder nonetheless.

After all the walking, hundreds of steps in Baux and Montmajour, we were hungry and decided to head out to the nearby town of Maussane. Two restaurants on our shortlist were closed and another had a later opening so we settled for a corner spot, suitably entitled Le Coin Gourmand.
It was tiny and we were squeezed in with other diners and here I had my first taste of the Camargue bull. Tough enough I must say as was my seat but generally the meal was excellent. Enjoyed a goat’s cheese starter and a huge salad. The other main dish was a very satisfactory pair of lamb chops served with (same as the beef) ratatouille and a tasty piece of a pasta tart. Desserts weren’t bad at all. Mine was a Soufflé Glacé with Calissons d’Aix and hers was a really moist Fig and Almond tart, better then anything in the dessert line that we ate in the Dordogne last year.
Wine had to be local. For some strange reason, lost in translation, I was refused a 50cl pichet (think it was only available at lunch) and was “forced" to settle for a tasty spicy bottle of local Vin de Pays from the surrounding Alpilles.