Download the map of Vitrolles en Luberon (only in French).
This village perched on the side of Luberon at almost 600m of altitude watches over the Valley of Durance and offers you the splendor of its landscape. In a preserved and rustic nature, your walk will be accompanied with the bleating of flocks.
From here, cross Luberon by the col of Vitrolles to join Cérest or Montjuston. If you are lovers of Great Luberon, you will find here an ideal start for hikes.
The residents are called “vitrollains”.
- The beautiful panorama,
- The start for a hike on the crests of Luberon,
- The church of Saint Etienne of Romanesque origin and its washhouse,
- The castle of XVIIth century (private),
- The vestiges of the former factory,
- The oil mill situated under the current City Hall,
- The dovecote,
- Numerous beautiful houses with stone and red ochre.
- Les Loups dans la Bergerie (1959) by Hervé Bromberger. Actors: Pierre Mondy and Françoise Dorléac.
- La Gloire de mon Père and Le Château de ma Mère (1990) by Yves Robert. Actors: Nathalie Roussel, Philippe Caubère, Didier Pain, Thérèse Liotard, Victorien Delamare, Pierre Maguelon, Jean Carmet, Jean Rochefort, Georges Wilson, Patrick Préjean, Paul Crauchet, Jean-Pierre Darras. Movies also filmed in Grambois.
The name of the village comes frome the Latin word “vitrolea” (glasswork). If the site was not still identified, on the other hand, at the foot of Castellas, the presence of numerous rests of Roman tiles suggests that a villa had to be in this place.
Very different than its homonymous situated in the department of Bouches du Rhône, the village appeared in the XIth century on the hillock of Castellas with aim to take a toll from the road that connected Aix en Provence to Forcalquier.
1. Saint Etienne Roman Church
Outside, a pinnacle-wall with two bays. The original building dates to XIIIth century but it was rebuilt in the XVIIth century. During the XVth century, the village was unoccupied, the Protestants pillaged the church in 1570.
Inside, a superb blue and golden retable, a curious painting that represents Sainte Marthe, but also a reliquary bust of Saint Etienne or the not much known effigy of Sainte Philomène. The church is constituted by a nave with two bays and rectangular apse with semicircular arch.
From the church, enjoy the view plunging down to the former castle and its big meadow.
2. The Castle
Of the monument built in 1678, only few things remain. The castle is sold in 1753 to the surgeon doctor Jean-Gaspard d’Ailhaud. This one became rich and famous thanks to his discovery of a miracle purgative powder which made him acquire a responsibility for the King. He became the counsellor and secretary of the King and made build a town house in Aix en Provence (Hotel of Ailhaud in the current “Rue Mignet”).
Nowadays the castle is private and no visits are allowed.
3. The Big Meadow
The whole property is vast and was constituted by a main building, a chapel, agricultural buildings, a factory built by the son and the grandson of Jean d’Alhiaud, a second main building (ruined), a dovecote and a garden. The main entrance facing the village as well as the south entrance of the property are lined by two stone pillars (XVIIth and XVIIIth century).
4. The Washhouse and the Fountain from the XVIIIth Century
Fountain with rounded buffet d’eau.
The supplying of water was a constant issue: either a pipe got blocked, or it was hit by a plough, or the torrential rains gave to waters of the village the color of white milk and it was necessary to wait for some time that the settling ends. For animals, the problem was different: the cisterns helped out the animals but it that should not last for a very long time! The water did not flow any more in the fountain…
Despite their main functions for washing and satiety of humans and animals, the washhouses and fountains was also places of sociability (meetings, swaps, chattings…). And for gossips too!
That is why we still say: “to wash one’s dirty linen in public”.
5. The Unusual Houses
The village is full of unusual houses with colorful façades (ochres of Luberon), loggias and balconies whom each has its own story.
6. The Old Mill
The former oil mill, with its rectangular form, is in a house that looks like a residence of XVIIIth century (ceiling with beam and visible joists). The room of the mill is still as a whole with its animal drive millstone and the scroutins press.
How do we make olive oil?
The millstone is actioned by an animal that is connected to the axle with a horizontal harnessing. The animal turns around the tank and drags the millstone. One puts olives there that become grinded. By a hole at the bottom of the tank, paste (called “grignon”, referring to the olive stone) goes out. The paste is then placed between scourtins (kind of circular doormat, about 40cm of diameter). The scourtin and the paste are piled successively (1 scourtin then 1 paste… and so on) and are passed under a press to pick up the oil.
The oil of the first pressure passes by a tub underneath. Once well compressed, scroutins are removed and the paste is stored: it will be sold to factories to be transformed into flour. The oil passes then by different tubs full of water for the settling. Lighter than the water, the oil stays on the surface. Picked “à la feuille” (flat and thin tool with handle), the oil is stored in jars. In the last tub (called “the hell”), water is still oily but unfit for human consumption. It is reserved for the soap factories in Marseille.
Generally, 100 kilos of olives are needed to have 15 kilos of oil of first pressure.
7. The School
The school with its four “indiscreet” (toilets) served as a set for the movies La Gloire de mon Père and Le Château de ma Mère (1990). Nowadays the place is private.
8. The Presbytery
The presbytery is adjacent to the City Hall (XVIIth century). Built by the community in 1673, the plasterwork décor dates to XVIIIth century.
9. The City Hall
The entrance porch dates to 1782.
Enjoy a hike on the crests of Luberon to admire the 360° view. More detail here (10,8km – 2h45).
Mountain view, Close to GR footpath, View over the vineyards, Forest location,
Geographic perimeter :