Hometo doLe patrimoine de la commune de Fontvieille

Le patrimoine de la commune de Fontvieille

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This presentation of the heritage of the commune of Fontvieille was produced by the 'INVENTORY OF THE HERITAGE OF THE COMMUNES OF FRANCE' Association, based in Vauvebargues (13), as part of the Region d'Arles' candidature for the 'Region of Art and History' label.
Commune of the Department of Bouches-du-Rhône, Canton of Arles, Post code: 13990 – INSEE Code: 13038 Population: 3,456 inhabitants – Density: 86 per km2 Surface area: 40.18 km2 – Min./max. altitude: 20/103 m. Name of inhabitants: 'Fontvieillois' - Motto/label:
Very important historical and particularly Roman presence.
Primitive settlement on Castellet hill (south-west), dependent on Montmajour. In the 15th century, the operation of the quarries and the unsanitary conditions of the Le Castellet marshlands led to the town being moved to its current location, around Fontaine-Vieille (Fons Vetus - Old Fountain), an abundant spring.
Severe damage: Charles V, 1537, Religious Wars, plague of 1720.
Construction of the church in the 17th century. Restructuring in the 17th century and extensions in the 19th century
Construction in the commune during the Revolution (1791).
It became famous in the modern era thanks to the presence of Alphonse Daudet, who visited regularly and wrote 'Letters From My Windmill' here. Extraordinary advertising campaign for 'Daudet's Windmill' (MH – 6-3-1931) which has led to Fontvieille now being an international tourist destination; this reputation is justified by its remarkable built heritage.
Box The PTT (Posts, Telephones and Telegraphs) Administration is issuing its first series of stamps of famous sites and monuments from the years 1930/36: they include 'Daudet's Windmill' (2 Francs, blue, n° 311, print run 8 million copies), as well as Reims Cathedral, the Pont du Gard, Mont-Saint-Michel, Le Puy-en-Velay, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and Saint-Trophime in Arles.
Mont de Cordes-Castellet, exceptional series of megalithic hypogea from the third millennium, one of the first in Europe:
Fées de Cordes grotto-standing stone (MH – list 1862): 42 m long (record for a covered alley).
La Source grotto-standing stone (MH – list 1900), near Le Castellet farm: 17 m long, this is the smallest.
Le Bounias grotto-standing stone (MH – list 1900), Le Castellet farm: 19 m long, inclined access ramp.
Le Castellet grotto-standing stone (MH – list 1900): 18 m long.
Saint-Coutignardes standing stone (MH – list 1900), Le Castellet: includes menhir lying on the ground (phallic?), named 'the Sword of Roland' (Mont des Cordes comes from Cordoba, Cordoba comes from Cordoue and is one of the legends of Montmajour Abbey).
Isolated standing stones:
Mas-d’Agard (IMH – 20-11-1995).
La Mérindole (IMH – 5-9-1996).
Great wealth of Roman and Gallo-Roman remains.
Barbegal Aqueduct (IMH – 5-2-1937): fragments of semi-circular arches. In reality, there are the remains of two aqueducts: one from the Alpilles (north) took water to Arles and the other captured water from large springs under Les Baux and supplied primarily the Barbegal milling industry:
Underground section (Allée des Pins)
In the valleys to the west of La Croix-de-Joussaud
To the east of the road (quarry in operation)
Along the Les Arcs Valley.
Gallo-Roman mill in Barbegal, neither listed nor protected (see attached monograph).
Roman remains of Caparon (MH – 20-10-1937), south of the aqueducts.
Gallo-Roman altar of La Coquille (MH – 13-1-1948) and supporting rock (MH: 6-2-1923) in Les Taillades: cippus surmounted by an enormous scallop-type shell, sculpted from one block of rock; there is also a bull's head.
Taurobolic bas-relief whose head has been badly damaged, sculpted from a vertical rock (MH – 8-6-1931) in Les Taillades.
The Roman quarries: operated almost continuously since the 1st century. Admirable conchiferous pale stone, very easy to work, but very solid. The quarries have supplied stone for the construction of the major monuments of Arles, the region and all the residences of Fontvieille, which were built with with very characteristic-sized stones.
Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens: Classical-style parish church, built in two stages, in the 17th and 18th centuries, which explains the two different-style bell towers; the façade was repaired in the 17th century, the main altar dates from 1874.
Saint-Jean-du-Grès chapel, of Romanesque origin (apse remains, parish church until 1768, subject of (reintroduced) procession on 24 June; currently used for cultural events, accessed via Route de Saint-Jean to the north-east.
Saint-Victor Chapel (remains), of Carolingian, then Romanesque origin, 1060 (IMH – 26-3- and 2-11-1926), on Le Castellet farm.
Saint-Cyprien Chapel (vestiges), attached to the ruined fortified château of Mont-Paon.
Chapel of the Château de la Tour des Abbés, absorbed into and hidden by the property.
Sainte-Croix du Castellet Chapel (ruined?).
Saint-Pierre d’Entremont Chapel of the former priory, to the west of Mont-Paon: preserved Romanesque walls.
Remarkable oratories:
Saint-Roch 1781 (IMH – 8-10-1935), restored in 1888 and 1893, Route de Maussane: square cippus on pedestal supporting niches with bas-reliefs, rounded dome with finely crafted metal cross. - Saint-Victor 1720 (IMH – 8-10-1935), votive oratory erected for the 18th century plague: large cippus supporting a small, very ornate Romanesque-style sanctuary.
Saint Victor (IMH – 8-10-1935), on Route de Montmajour, erected in 1721 in gratitude for sparing Fontvieille from the plague, dedicatory plaque 1721 and 1833/35. Valuable monument on a moulded square cippus, supporting two back-to-back semi-circular niches framed by pilasters and rinceaux; curved cornice roof, bas-reliefs of Saint Victor and Saint Roch.
Oratory of Saint-Jacques, 15th century, restored in 1961, also known as Notre-Dame (IMH: 22-7-1935, Route de Maussane, harmonious, sombre and classical: cippus on base stone, niche cut through with four semi-circular openings forming a central lantern, roof in form of cupola over entablature.
Sainte-Thérèse, 17th century, near Barbegal, three-floor building: low pedestal cippus, central part of same dimensions with decorated panels, upper part resembles a Brother at Saint-Jacques Oratory: 4 openings, cupola roof.
Niche with Virgin, in Le Planet.
Cross near the Château de la Tour de l’Abbé: large, finely crafted metallic cross on moulded cippus, a staircase cut into the rock leads to the platform where the cross stands.
The Tour des Abbés or Tour Pierre de Canillac (IMH – 13-7-1927), built in the 14th century by the Abbot of Montmajour, Pierre de Canillac: high keep with machiolations dating from 15th century, château added to the tower (currently a jointly-owned property).
Collective architecture:
Type of house and their characteristic size, low houses of one or two storeys, cubic structures made of large stones, also cubic and meticulously layered, almost dry-packed, in golden ochre tones. Specific to Fontvieille and a few adjoining villages.
In places, La Grande Rue and Le Planet espouse the cut size of the former quarries, forming troglodyte houses.
18th century Mas de la Danse, which was the first town hall, Rue de la Tour; most of it is 16th century and the chimney flue is shaped like a gunboat.
Former Gabelle (salt tax house), Place de la Gabelle, formerly Place de la Croix-Rousse: wooden lion's head on a corner house, probably the bow of a ship.
Former school and town hall, Place de la Gabelle: long low 18th/19th century building.
Current town hall: in the 19th century it was a former casino, behind the gaming room; spectators watched the courses camarguaises in an amphitheatre formed with chariots.
Autel de la Patrie altar from 1794 (IMH – 6-2-1937), where people came to swear their loyalty to their homeland. In reality, it was a rough-hewn block of stone supporting a statue of a full-length Marianne on a pedestal, with the inscription, 'A la gloire de la Révolution française' (To the Glory of the French Revolution).
By preserving its Autel de la Patrie, Fontvieille is affirming its personality. One of the very rare examples in France (4) of these monuments that are much more symbolic than artistic (sometimes a simple rough-hewn block of stone, like here); it is located in front of the church. In 1879, Fontvieille and Saint-Andiol were the only communes in Les Bouches-du-Rhône to have a full-length statue of Marianne; this was a model mass-produced in cast iron by the Tusey Foundries (Meuse).
Château de Montauban: charming early 19th century building where Daudet, who knew it well, wrote 'Letters From My Windmill'. Taken over by the town hall circa 1980, it was destroyed by a 'leisure park and fitness trail', including a wonderful romantic park.
Château d’Estoublon (IMH – 15-6-1966). On the plain, this comes after the fortress of Mont-Paon in the Alpilles – late 16th century - given the name Estoublon. Elongated dwelling confined by two round towers; upper floor accessed via the horseshoe staircase, 19th century wing (disagreeable). Wonderful wooded environment surrounded by vines (see specifications attached).
Remains of a ruined fortress on Mont-Paon.
Mas de l’Ange, 16th century, closer to a manor house.
Mas d’Auge 16th/17th century, Route d’Arles: mullioned windows, corner watch turret, round tower with machiolations. 16th century Dovecote (IMH – 13-8-1927).
1920 bridge over the Grande Rue, linking two districts; this bridge, called Pont-Neuf, provided faster access to Saint-Etienne-du-Grès and Tarascon (the Grande Rue was a former quarry).
Mediaeval and Renaissance residence in the Les Forges district.
16th century round dovecote with ball-style finials, 16th century, at Château Légier.
The fountains:
The Vieille Font, originally 12th century, half-buried: cover made of stone slabs. Gave its name to the town - near the Tour des Abbés.
Sheltered fountain that directly supplies water to the the wash house.
19th century wash house, near the Vieille Font: one of the largest constructions in Les Baux Valley, covered with timbers on pilasters; a protective wall was added in the second half of the 19th century.
Wells: there are many individual wells, from all periods, on the street, in courtyards, almost one for each house, embedded in a kitchen window, with winches, with gantry cranes and crowned with shell motifs.
Two archetypes on Grande Rue: the 18th century Lapin well with a turret; restored well with protective vault.
The ground water very close-by encouraged the quarriers to construct a well for each house (Fontvieille is also known as 'the town of a hundred wells'; unfortunately the municipality refused to provide a water supply after the First World War, so Fontvieille did not get running water until 1950. In 1930, a number of 'dragor' fountains were installed, three of which are still in existence today. The most visible fountain is the one at the La Poste crossroads.
Large bronze statue of the Republic, on a double base stone. C - INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE
The Windmills (Moulins)
Moulin Ribet, 18th century, known as Daudet's or Saint Peter's (MH – 6-3-1931); it operated from 1814 to 1915. Frédéric Mistral Museum
Moulin Tissot-Avon (until 1905), top part missing, near Montauban Park
Moulin Sourdon, circa 1700, which operated until 1830, the oldest windmill, top part missing.
Moulin Ramet (MH 6-3-1931), stopped working in 1900, top part missing.
The oil mills: some have disappeared since the 17th century and only nine remain, in varying states of preservation.
Château Légier, Rue de La Tour (Avenue d’Arles).
Moulin de La Boucherie (Tour des Abbés).
La Grande Baume (in Le Planet).
Barachin (Avenue de la Gare).
Mitifio at the Château d’Estoublon.
Mas de Combet.
Bédarrides (Bellon, former Mayor), still working.
Fabre, 1690, and remains of grinding wheels, Avenue Frédéric-Mistral.
La Fabrique, late 19th century, where the by-products of the olive mills were processed; near the wash house.
Daudet's Windmill Museum
'Fontvieille in History' at the Château de Montauban.
Bull and equestrian traditions: courses camarguaises, herdsmen, horse fair.
Midnight Mass with live nativity and a sheep.
'Vallée des Baux' AOC olive oil label and 'Vallée des Baux' cracked olives.
Site popular with artists and craftspeople, many galleries, cultural activities, tradition of storytellers and Provençal vigils.
Sign-posted route through the town, with explanatory plaques on history, famous people and local celebrities, including Honoré Coudière, Fontvieille poet, journalist and historian.
Inscription on foundation stone of the school dated 1846, in honour of the benefactors, Cours Bellon.
Monument to the dead at the cemetery: 1914/1918 War: 84 dead; 1939/45 war: 3 dead; Algerian War: 1 dead.
Monument to the Martyrs of the Resistance, Allée des Pins.
Alpilles Chain (SI ) 26-7-1965).
Panoramic view of the town and surrounding areas (from the Corniche des Blocs, n° 33). B - MANMADE SITES
Site of the town and its distinctive urban architecture.
Site of the Roman quarries.
Site of the Moulins hill.
Gallo-Roman mill in Barbegal
Two ruined aqueducts which run in a line to the south-east of Fontvieille: a) the first brought water from Eygalières to Arles, b) the second, connected and parallel to the first, supplied an industrial mill. The excess supply allowed the construction of this mill.
Location: the mill is located on the southern slope of a limestone hill opposite the 19th century Château de Barbegal.
The waters supplied by a low-built covered Roman aqueduct made of small stones ran down to a canal at the top of the hill at the level of the aqueduct bridge.
They then cascaded down the southern slope, supplying the mill itself.
The Mill:
As usual, archaeologists do not agree on its date of origin (2nd to 4th century AD), but it is extremely characteristic of the master-works of the Golden Age.
Two parallel water staircases with eight 'levels' operated eight hydraulic wheels, each one collecting the water from the one above it.
So there were 16 mills simultaneously operating as many grinding stones.
This was therefore an industrial establishment in the modern sense of the term, and not a traditionally-run small operation like a water-mill or windmill.
This example is almost unique in the Roman world. The examples in Caesarea (Israel) and Chemtou (Turkey) are much more basic.
Interestingly, the site is practically unknown to the public, although it is included in most classical guidebooks (summarised in a few words). It is neither listed nor protected.
The same applies to the list of Historic Monuments, as it is not listed, registered or protected as a site (whereas the remains of previous aqueducts are listed IMH – le 5-2-1937).
H.P. Eydoux believes that the daily production was 2.5 tonnes of flour; it was 4.5 according to Fernand Benoît and Robert Sellin, a figure based on the probable flow.
A rare example of an engineering structure - a combination of an aqueduct bridge and a level rock section, leading to a water staircase.
There is a recreation of the Mill in the Museum of Arles Archaeology.
Site unearthed by Fernand Benoît circa 1936.
Château d’Estoublon (façades and roofs IMH – 15-6-1966). However, the milestone that was in the park and transported to a private property in Les Baux was (MH – 20-4-1927).
Originally a seigniory of Mont Paon, under the authority of Les Baux.
Fortress on the summit overlooking Mont Paon (230 m).
This fortress, which became a hideout for bandits, was destroyed by the Lord of Les Baux during the Religious Wars (shapeless remains). The new château (the current one) was rebuilt in the late 16th century and 'came down' to the plain at the foot of Mont Paon.
It was given its current name during the Revolution.
Central main building framed by two round towers.
Two-storey building; the first floor was accessed via a double staircase.
One probably 19th century wing extends and ruins the left of this very pure structure, creating an imbalance in its general harmony.
Wine-growing estate separated by an abundant park from the vines which bombard it from all angles.
Mill known as Daudet's Windmill
The years have passed. Saint Pierre mill was dilapidated, but in 1935, on the initiative of Hyacinthe Bellon and Jean de Vallières, a group of artists and writers created the 'Society of Friends of Alphonse Daudet's Windmills'. Its Presidents were Mme Frédéric Mistral and Léon Bérard, from the Académie Française. A large number of people joined immediately. Its members included Léo Lelée, painter, Fernand Benoît, curator at the museums of Arles and a windmill enthusiast who had discovered the famous Barbegal site 4 kilometres from Fontvieille and Emile Ripert, who wrote poems in honour of the windmill.. The Association took responsibility for the restoration of the Ribes windmill, which was the least ruined. The sails were put back in place, the mechanism was meticulously recreated and the boulter was transformed into a museum. Daudet's Windmill is not that of his 'Letters' (but there isn't one...). It operated happily until the end of the 19th century, but it embodied 'The Secret of Master Cornille'. Today, it is very popular with visitors. Together with the Palais des Papes, it is one of the most visited sites in Provence. Windmill enthusiasts can see period machinery (1814), in perfect condition; it includes the oak tree in one piece, the wheel with its cogs, the lantern, the brake and even the release system which allows the sail to turn on the fly. Unfortunately, for safety reasons, these sails have been fixed with steel cable to remove the risk of being bit by a sail. From the windows, it is possible to see one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

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