Bauxite

Hiking distance : 12 km ; Hiking time : 03:30

abandoned mine works / mine abandonnée
abandoned mine works / mine abandonnée
This circuit starting from Maussane-les-Alpilles winds along quiet streets and through a golf course in the shadow of the fortress of Les Baux-de-Provence before passing by remnants of the bauxite mining industry. Bauxite was first discovered in the area around 1820 and from 1850 industrial methods to extract extract aluminium from bauxite became available. Several mines were in operation around the village of Les Baux-de-Provence and until 1939, France was the world’s largest single producer of bauxite. The name bauxite, of course, derives from the village name les “Baux”. Nowadays the mines are abandoned and in at least one case, flooded, but satellite images make it fairly easy to see where the mines were : the barren landscapes are tinted ocre red. Along this walking route there is a small mine gallery entrance, probably the result of exploratory digging. The largest bauxite mine site is near Mas Rouge (not near this route). However near the above-mentioned gallery entrance, there are 2 large abandoned bauxite quarries (too dangerous to visit).
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The Mont Paon Castrum

Hiking distance : 13 km ; Hiking time : 4 h

Chapelle de St-Jean
Chapelle de St-Jean
This loop starts from a parking spot on the D33a and passes by the Montpaon castrum, a ruined medieval church called St Peire d’Entremont and the St-Jean chapel.

What to see

The castrum has been the object of archeological digs and remains an active research site belonging to the Bouches du Rhone department. Various sources indicate the main period of occupation around the 11th-13th century, but it is safe to assume that the site would have been used as a lookout position from earliest times. The site overlooks the western end of the Alpilles hills and is in visual contact with the chateau at Les Baux de Provence. Continue reading “The Mont Paon Castrum”