La Motte d’Aigues- village of Luberon – Visit, monument, guide

Mairie de la Motte d'Aigues - Parc Sosthène et Irma Reybaud
84240 La Motte-d'Aigues
Historic patrimony   Town / Village Historic site and monument

Download the map of La Motte d'Aigues here (only in French).

If there is one village that deserves its denomination “Aigues” it is of course this one. The territory of the village is crossed by 4 rivers. Situated at the edge of the city, the pond La Bonde is the biggest stretch of water in the department.

La Motte d’Aigues shelters 2 washhouses but also 4 fountains. This small village presents old narrow streets and beautiful notable’s houses. The lovers of gastronomy will be pleased by its bakery and its traditional production but also by the vineyards classified “AOC Luberon”.

The residents are called “mottassins”.

THE ESSENTIALS:

- The night market from June to August, Thursday evening,

- The church of Saint Florentin and its bell wall,

- The small Vaudois Temple (beginning of the XXth),

- The historic ceramic plate of the 500th anniversary of the Act of housing of the village,

- The pond La Bonde, largest pond of the region (52ha) that offers shady shores.

THE ORIGINS OF THE VILLAGE:

Completely unoccupied during the second part of the XVth century, this fief is given by the King René to Fouquet d’Agoult who decides to create a water reserve for the château in La Tour d’Aigues. But La Motte d’Aigues stays unoccupied, thus he tries to repopulate the lands. The lords appeal the Vaudois*.

*The Vaudois are people who follow the ideology of Pierre Valdo (bourgeois who abandoned his fortune to spread the gospel). The basis of the Vaudois ideology are the humility, the sharing, the pacifism, the poverty…

In 1545, the Edict of Mérindol sentences La Motte d’Aigues, like 23 others Vaudois villages of Luberon, for heresy. Under the order of the first president of the Parliament of Aix, the Baron of Oppède, villages are pillaged, residents killed or sent to the galleys. There have been almost 3000 people exterminated in only 5 days. The lands have been seized and the goods disposed to pay the soldiers.

GUIDED TOUR:

1. Lake la Bonde

In 1470 the pond of La Bonde is created by Foulquet d’Agoult to feed the moats of the château in La Tour d’Aigues, thanks to an aqueduct. It is the biggest stretch of water of the department, fed essentially by the Source of Mirail. The castle of La Bonde, large building adjacent to the pond, was in the center of a vineyards established in the XIXth century, including 130ha of lands, several farmhouses (La Ferme du Château, la Petite Bonde, la Félicianne), a hill and the pond (30 ha).

The castle is in fact a cottage built at the end of a bicentennial plane trees alley, extended by an wing sheltering a domestic chapel and flanked by the elegant bell tower.

2. Saint Florentin Church

The walls date to the end of the XIVth century but the façade is built during the XVIIth century (on the lintel of the door, the date 1618 is written).

Since the village was mostly protestant, Saint Florentin has been transformed to a temple in 1560 (after the death of the king Henri II), then controlled again by the Catholics and restored in the XIXth century. Inside, the church is marked by the numerous repairs. Outside, it is inserted into an environment of houses.

Three years after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the forced conversion, the totality of the population in La Motte give back to the church its original role (result, here like in Cabrières d’Aigues and Lourmarin, of a slow, non-violent but implacable persecution). The “newly converted” went to the church only when penal sanctions threatened them or when they wanted to marry… This parish is nowadays connected to the ones of Lourmarin and Cabrières d’Aigues.

3. The Temple

The temple of the village had an eventful story.

The first temple was constructed on the location of the current temple (between 1633 and 1641), then destroyed after the orders of the king Louis XIV (1663).

After the Revolution, some exiled Vaudois families came back and a new temple was built in 1817 with many defects so the monument fell down at the end of the XIXth century. It was decided to rebuild it. The construction began in 1904 and the temple was inaugurated the 30th July 1905.

Despite the law about the separation of the Church and the State, churches built before 1905 became property of the State which lend freely them to the Church. Since, they are maintained at their expenses. Most of Catholic churches, half of the Protestant temples and third party of synagogues belong to the French State nowadays.

"A typical village with a heavy Waldensian past..."

4. The Square Under the Cherry Trees

The night market of La Motte d’Aigues is every Thursday evenings since June to the end of August, starting from 6PM. It takes place on the place of the village, near the Post Office. There are at least 20 exhibitors who sell fruits, vegetables, clothes, toys… Come do your shopping at the end of the day while enjoying concerts and conviviality moments. One of the major events of Luberon South Side during summer.

5. The Important Characters of the Village

Pierre Joubert, a Vaudois from La Motte d’Aigues, exiled himself in South Africa where he founded the Provençal villages of Lamotte and La Roque.

During the first years of the XVIth century, the Luberon, unoccupied because of the 100 Years’ War was repopulated by the Vaudois coming from the Italian Piedmont. Experts for irrigation, these peasants came down to the Valley of Durance with the transhumance, allowing their lords, native of Italy, to build the first Renaissance châteaux in Lourmarin or La Tour d’Aigues.

Some part of the Vaudois managed to run away to the Cévennes. Another part ran away later to Holland in 1689, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. From there, 180 Vaudois boarded to boats leaving for the colony of Cap. The population was multiplied by 3 after their arrival. The quarter of the “Huguenot of South Africa” came from the Vaudois villages of Luberon. Two of these Vaudois, Pierre Joubert and Jean Roy, founded vineyards, world famous nowadays, in South Africa where 20% of white family names come from France.

Gustave Fagniez (1842-1927), writer and academician, was owner of the castle of La Bonde.

HIKING:

Enjoy a hike from La Motte d’Aigues to the top of the Luberon. Warning: difficult hike. More details here (18,5km – 6h30).

Opening period


All year round, daily.

Prices


Free access.

surroundings :
Mountain view, Lake 5 km away, View over the vineyards, Village centre,

Geographic perimeter :
La Motte-d'Aigues,

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