An Ancient StrongholdMonday, May 2, 2011
Fort de Buoux, France
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Over a decade ago, while staying at a B & B near Bonnieux for a week, we climbed the fortress topped pinnacle called Fort de Buoux. The link has some photos which will give you an idea of the scope and height of this plateau -on - a - pinnacle.
We spent last night in Apt, nearby, in order to climb it once again before driving to Aix. Our most recent guests leave Ambiance d'Aix today, and we move in ;)
We park in the designated area and follow the path under a massive jut-out of rock, where prehistoric tribes sheltered. The caves of the Aiguebrun (brown water in Provençal) river valley have been occupied for millenia, and remains of their dwelling areas, carved into the stone, can still be seen today.
At the base of the rockspur, beside a green and blooming garden, sits the same gardienne that was here in the previous millenium at our last visit. We pay our few euro fee and begin the climb.
Ancient homes carved into the rock were fortified with pain- stakingly shaped blocks of stone.
As we get higher, no guardrails anywhere, just a sheer drop of hundreds of feet, there's a good view of the sheer cliffs across the valley.
Can you see the white dots just to the right of center below the tree line? We can hear those brave souls calling out to each other as they rappel down the cliff wall.
Up, up, up the rocky outcrop -
until we arrive at the top, where from the earliest Middle Ages this stronghold played an exceptional role in the defense of the country. At the time of the Religious Wars the Fort became a refuge for the pursued protestant Waldensians. Towers, ramparts, cisterns, and silos are still visible today. Hard to imagine LIVING in these so-remote place, with such difficult access. An ingenious curtain wall, blending in with the cliffside, snakes down another side of the pinnacle - a hidden escape route.
We descend to civilisation, and enjoy a relaxing lunch in the chi-chi village of Lourmarin - what a contrast to the fort!
The soothing burble of water beside us in the canal, a restful vision of creeper-covered walls beyond, we're very thankful to live in peace in this millenium.
We arrive in Aix to find our usually quite little lane bustling with activity,
as filming for a French cultural TV show, des Racines et des Ailes (Of Roots and Wings) is going on in the lane and the adjacent square. We're living in an historical place here too, but in a peaceful and beautiful town rather than a stark rocky plateau - much more pleasant, for sure!