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From forts to castles in Provence

In the distance you can make out a tower or a dungeon, and you can only marvel at the poetry of their gardenns and hum a few notes borrowed from the music of times gone by… Each castle brings history alive in its own way, taking its visitors on a trip back in time in the heart of Provence.

A soothing moment in the Château de Sauvan

A Provencal palace built along the lines of Le Petit Trianon

Feel like ignoring your GPS and finding another connecting thread to visit Provence? Take the Route des Châteaux de Provence, an itinerary that crisscrosses the region to discover the Provencal heritage. In all, there are 6 castles with an unusual history and their gardens that majestically line your route. Stop at the Château de Sauvan, a setting that welcomes all kinds of events: seminars, weddings, concerts, plays and even birthday parties… The unforgettable part of the visit is undoubtedly the entrance to the great hall, opposite the majestic staircase and wandering around the Grande Galerie which crosses the castle over a distance of 40 meters, dotted with pictures of former owners and period objects and furniture dating back to Louis XIV and Louis XV. And of course, the strange feathered hosts who wander around the Château’s park… Say no more!

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An elegant walk around the Château de Lourmarin

A real temple to culture

The Château de Lourmarin which is a real must, is one of the châteaux to visit in Provence. Located right in the middle of the Luberon Natural Regional Park, on the Route des Châteaux de Provence, this building which has been a listed Historical Monuments since 1973 overlooks the village of Lourmarin. Its reputation is largely due to the part which is of Italian inspiration, its Renaissance wing and its double helix staircase. It was taken over and restored by Robert Laurent Vibert in 1920 who bequeathed it to the Académie des Sciences, Agricultures, Arts et Belles Lettres of Aix-en-Provence. And that is how the Fondation de Lourmarin Robert Laurent Vibert was created, and the Château became an exceptional cutlural venue which welcomes great artists during concerts, exhibitions and even conferences. Today, the walk in the olive grove behind the château takes the more curious visiors on a trip and the treasure-hunt version is fun for kids! And for a combination of cultural and sports outing, climb on your bike to reach the circuit du Pays d’Aigues to discover the châteaux of the Sud Luberon!

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An unusualexploration of the Château de Saint Martin de Pallières

Discovering the Undergound Cathedral

The visit continues on the Route des Châteaux de Provence to Château de Saint Martin de Pallières. Hidden away in the gardens of the Château, you will see architecture which is unique in Provence: the Underground Cathedral. There’s no point in skinning your eyes, you won’t be able to see it, because it’s actually under your feet! This former 500 m2 cistern (the largest in Europe) was used to meet the requirements of the château for watering its vegetable garden and also the 11 hectare park. This cathedral with its unique architecture has been restored, is hidden beneath the little village of Saint-Martin de Pallières, and has been listed as a Historical Monument since 2003. Take a guided visit of the castle and its gardens and also to discover the history of this unusual building.

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A trip back in time in the Château de Tarascon

The fortress for the prisoners

Off to the Château de Tarascon surely one of the most beautiful castles in France where architecture blends with that of the Renaissance. Discover this fortress in Provence which looks down over the River Rhône from a height of 45 meters. It was once a well-known detention facility, and there are actually hundreds of tags engraved by prisoners from many countries. The Château de Tarascon is now home to a gallery which is a combination of heritage and contemporary creations. Guided and non-guided visits are available to discover the history of the castle and its little secrets. A load of history and thrills awaits you deep inside this fortress, with of course the absolutely exceptional view from the castle’s terraces!

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A detour via the Château du Duché d’Uzès

Witness to France’s history

On your to-do list of châteaux to visit, the Château Ducal of Uzès which is also known as the “Duché” has its place. Built on an ancient Roman camp, centuries of history are inscribed in the architecture of this exceptional castle. The epochs have left their imprint, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, through the Enlightenment or even Modern Times. Its history is every bit as fascinating: sold and ransacked, repurchased and restored and made into a college… The current Duke and Duchess of Uzès have continued restoration work started by the Marquise de Crussol to give a new and more peaceful life to this castle. Discover an exceptional collection of ancient objects and furniture on your visit.

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Head for the Medieval castle of Simiane-la-Rotonde

Get a bird’s eye view from the castle terrace

To discover the castles of the south of France and Provencal heritage, we recommend that you visit the medieval Castle in Simiane-la-Rotonde. This building has been listed a Historical Monument since 1841 and seems to rise out of nowhere in the middle of the fields of lavender under the Provencal sun. Make the most of an unaccompanied visit or follow a guide who knows the castle like the back of his hand, and discover the castles 5 rooms which can be visited. Two of them are entirely devoted to aromatic and medicinal plants and area good way to learn about the uses and properties of essential oils. And the castle’s key room? The famous rotunda of the dungeon with its magnificent ribbed vaults. All year round, art exhibitions and music festivals bring life to the castle.

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Take a b break in the Forteresse de Mornas

Back to medieval times

In the Vaucluse, north of Orange, the Forteresse de Mornas is without a doubt one of the châteaux to visit in Provence. Its ramparts rise proudly 137 meters above the Rhône valley. Totally immersed in the time of the knights and chivalry, the fortress is open for live shows where soldiers and courtiers take possession of the place. For an unaccompanied visit, a plan is provided to explore the fortress as you wish. A trip back to medieval times which will delight both young and old!

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Off to the ruins of the Château d’Hyères

A walk on the footprints of history

Visit the ruins of the Château d’Hyères during your holidays in Provence. An athletic visit and a view which is well worth the effort when you reach the top! Placed strategically on a rocky promontory which was once ideal for defence and observation, its remains offer a beautiful example of past military  architecture. You will be amazed by the incredible landscapes of the Bay of Hyères, the Iles d’Or and the Massif des Maures: a patchwork of blue, green and ochre. Wander around the ruins of the 11th century castle and take the time to read the explanatory panels along the trail to find out everything about this historical place.

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A mixture of periods in the Château de la Barben

Le Rocher Mistral, an original project

In historic Provence, between the Luberon, the Camargue and the Alpilles, the Château de la Barben, initially a defensive edifice, has watched over Provence from its gigantic rock for more than 1,000 years. Listed a Historical Monument since 1984, it houses the traces of many artists of the time and the exceptional gardens thought up by a draughstman of the gardens of Versailles and considered to be the most beautiful in Provence. Recently, an unprecedented project saw the light to revive the castle: Rocher Mistral. A project to create a natural and cultural Provencal park which is planned to open in June 2021. What is its aim? To make the château de La Barben into a venue for authentic shows and events in a protected and valorised natural setting.

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Back in time at the Forteresse de Beaucaire

More than 1,000 years of history to be seen in the stones

Once known as Château d’Ugernum, the Forteresse de Beaucaire is now a gem in the heritage of Provence. In 1067 the name Ugernum was abandoned in favour of Belcaïre, which means beautiful stone or rock. A name which suits it well with its 1,000 years of history which can be seen in the architecture and remains of the castle. From the siege of 1216 to the rebuilding of the castle under Louis IX, and the extension of the walls and the ramparts from 1350 and even the organizing of bull races inside the walls of the castle in 17th century. A unique past to discover and which vearned the Château de Beaucaire a title of Historical Monument since 1834.

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