"Villelaure keeps an eye on the river Durance..."
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Stop in this village, it is discovering a multitude of old houses, fountains, the church and its Place, a castle of the XVIIIth century with its park of 3ha that are the fleuron of this heritage.
You will be seduced by its botanic path, its hikes and bike tours, as well as its panorama over the Valley of Durance and the beautiful Luberon.
The residents are called “villelauriens”.
- The church and the chapel of Saint Marc,
- The gate of “La Fabrique”,
- The parks of the Castle of Verdet-Kebler and its bicentennial oak.
In Villelaure, at the hamlet of “La Tuilière” (on a private terrain) a hidden villa attracted in 1899 the attention of specialists, date when four big mosaiced pieces were discovered and permitted to put a date on this site (IInd or IIIrd century), thanks to the motifs of the medallions.
Covered in 1913, just before the Great War, it necessary to wait almost a century to get an idea of what could have been this set of the time of Emperor Hadrien. Not only the examinations made in 2006 under the responsibility of the INRAP (National institute of preventive archaeological researches) of Nîmes confirmed the importance of this set, but among the surprises, a basin of 26m of length and a new mosaic were discovered. Since then, other attempts of reconnaissance were not made.
The two most beautiful mosaics crossed the Atlantic and are now exposed in two museums of Los Angeles (The Villa Getty and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA).
1. The Bridge
Coming from Pertuis, before the line of plane trees on your left, this small bridge dates to the construction of the canal. This little curiosity often ignored has, despite all, the charm of the constructions of the time of Napoléon.
Two canals cross the village: the canal of Forbin-Janson which was used to irrigate the cultures. The other (1850/1870) is called “canal of Cadenet” because it served to bring water to Cadenet.
2. The Fountain of Saint Marc
At the corner of the “Montée du Château” and the “Rue de la fontaine”, set of two imbricated fountains. The older conserves its buffet d’eau ornamented by pilasters and a cornice with moulding (1819).
3. Saint Marc Church
This church built between 1118 and 1123 shows the story of Villelaure. Like the village, it was wrecked, destroyed, rebuilt, abandoned then renovated and embellished. The outside is very simple. With the growth of the population in the XVIIIth century, a new nave is built, prolonged by a choir, the former nave became an aisle. After the collapse of the bell-wall, a bell tower is built in the XIXth century.
Inside, stained-glass windows come from the workshop of André d’Aix en Provence. The stained-glass window of the choir represents Saint Marc.
Seven beautiful paintings decorate the walls:
- The Charity of Sainte Elisabeth of XVIIth century,
- The Christ in cross and Saint Roch of XVIIth century,
- The Agony of Christ of XIXth century,
- Saint Jérôme praying of XVIIIth century,
- The tradition of the keys of Saint Pierre with the presence of Saint Marc,
- Sainte Madeleine and Saint Jérôme,
- The descent of the cross.
4. The Villa “La Candido”
Built during the 30s, in an eclectic style, this residence associates covered terrace, mosaics and ceramic archways. Visible from the “Rue Callier” and “Rue des Grands Crottes”, the villa is a real architectural curiosity. Private property.
5. The Verdet-Kebler Castle
This castle is in fact the mansion of the Forbin de Janson family from 1745. In 1849, after bankruptcy of the sugar factory of “La Fabrique”, the family had to sell their goods to Mr Trone, a rich trader from Aix en Provence, who bought the mansion but sold it later, in 1860, to Ms Verdet-Kebler.
The heirs gave the castle in 1950 to the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul, who transformed it into a home of rest and holidays for the needy children of Avignon. Put on sale in 1970, the castle Verdet Kleber is bought in 1977 by the municipality, which is, since then, in search of a harmonious development.
6. The "Eiffel Tower" Fountain
Fountain decorated with a stone Eiffel Tower. Little allusion to the real Eiffel Tower for the World Fair in 1889 in Paris. Its theme is the French Revolution, for the centenary of this event. This is for this Fair that the Eiffel Tower was built.
7. “La Fabrique”
“La Fabrique” is a former sugar factory built between 1832 and 1835 by the Marquis Joseph II de Palamède de Forbin. The buildings form a square of 150m of side with three floors. There were warehouses, accommodations for about 100 workers, a mansion and a production unit for beet sugar, cereal, madder and thistles. The machineries powered by a diversion of the canal of Villelaure are considered as exemplary for the time.
After around ten years of production, the sugar factory is on a downward slope and the exhaustion of lands and the attacks of greenflies are going to precipitate the bankruptcy of the Marquis. He will try to produce cereals, madder, silkworms, thistles without real outputs.
1845 is the beginning of the demolition of the domain of the Forbin de Janson family. The factory was occupied and started to form the current hamlet.
8. Saint Marc Chapel
The monument dates to XVIIth century but it was reshaped several times (pinnacle-wall with volutes).
Two enormous mulberry trees protect the west façade. From the openwork door, you can glimpse a polychrome altar and some statues.
9. Queen Laure's Castle
The residence of the lords of Villelaure was formerly a simple Provençal cottage whose the construction started with the repopulation of the village in 1512. A first series of enlargement realized before 1563 gave to the building more important size: the owner Melchior Forbin began to transform this still modest house into a real castle, inspired by the Château of La Tour d’Aigues. Addition of a fountain and a dovecote just after. The successors abandoned the building to farmers who transformed it into granges and cowshed. The old dwelling is restored after a fire in the XVIth century caused by the Vaudois troops came in reprisals, Lord Gaspard de Forbin transforms and enlarges then the building in 1560. Nowadays it is a private property.
Enjoy a hike from Villelaure. More detail here (11,3km – 3h30)
Village centre, River 5 km away, Lake 5 km away, Mountain view, View over the vineyards,
Geographic perimeter :