This is a tiny gem, virtually unknown, one of the most beautiful perched villages in the Provence. A veritable old stone village! Situated on the northern edge of the Dentelles de Montmirail it can only be explored by foot. Start from the top near the castle entrance or walk your way up from below where the post office is. You will enter into a medieval world with old stone houses, narrow alleys, arches and cul-de-sacs. The cobble stone alleys, just wide enough for two people, meander uphill to the château. In between the old stone houses you are offered magnificent views over the Ouvèze valley with the green mountains of the Pre-Alpes as a backdrop. The main church is Église St.Sauveur et St. Sixte, originally from the 11th century but rebuilt in 1844. Also noteworthy is the 16th century fountain.
First mentioned in the 12th century as Castrum Castri, then Crestum. The origin of the château goes back to the 9th century. Built by the Saracens, it is one of the oldest castles in the Provence. It was renovated and enlarged in the 14th century and served for a while as the residence of the bishops of Vaison la Romaine. During the French Revolution the château was ransacked and it fell into disrepair. The stones were used by residents to build their houses in Crestet. What remained was restored in 1984. It is privately owned and not open to the public.
Crestet Centre d'Art (Atelier de Claude et François Stahly)
François Stahly, born in 1911 in Constance, Germany, was a famous sculptor whose works in wood, stone, bronze and stainless steel are exhibited in museums and public places all over the world.
As an art student at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Wintherthur he became familiar with the Bauhaus style, which influenced his work henceforth. From 1931 - 1939 he studied at the Académie Ranson in Paris. He eventually became a French citizen. From 1960-65 he worked in the US (Berkeley, Aspen and Seattle).
Upon his return to France he established his atelier at Le Haut de Crestet, above the Vieux Village of Crestet. In 1992 he became a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, the highest distinction for artists in France. He died in Paris on July 3, 2006.
After extensive renovations the art center was reopened in 2007. Its Bauhaus style architecture of white concrete, wood and glass, with an inner patio and flat roofs blends in perfectly with the surrounding forest. Built by Stahly in the 1960s it is now part of the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP), a government owned cultural institution. There is a permanent exhibition of sculptures, which have been placed in between oak and pine trees. Some sculptures are formed from trees, others are fixed and mobile stainless steel structures. The art center has a program for artists in residence and hosts temporary exhibitions from time to time.