Sitting on a forested hill in the northwestern-most corner of the Vaucluse is an ancient troglodyte village that's very picturesque and historically interesting: it was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic until the early 20th century.
Barry is a village of caves and stone buildings built into the south side of a tall hill (312 m) that overlooks the Rhône valley and the Donzère-Mondragon canal. From the top of the hill, near the Chateau de Barry ruins, there's a magnificent view across the countryside north, west and south.
Driving north only 2 km from Bollène on the D26, the turnoff is marked to the right. The small road zig-zags up a narrow valley and ends at the "village".
The cliffs on the east (right) side of the valley have caves and stone construction, but mostly hidden in the foliage and pretty run down. The main part of the site is on and around the cliffs to the west. The habitation here is a variation and mixture, from caves skillfully carved into the side of the cliffs to stone buildings (such as the 1692 Notre Dame d'Esperance chapel [photo-1] standing in front of the cliffs.
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History of Barry Troglodyte Village
First record, Barros was a celtic word meaning a rocky ridge, evolving to Barry, completely unrelated to the Duke of Barry in central France.
The information panels here mark five distinct periods of habitation, all without interruption:
1 - Prehistoric
2 - Protohistoric
3 - Gallo-Roman
4 - Medieval
5 - Modern
Early weapons found her include paleolithic arrow heads, knives and neolithic polished-stone axes.
The decline over the last couple of centuries was slow but steady: There was a population of 500 in the 18th century, down to 50 people in the 19th century. In the beginning of the 20th century, there was only one widow and her servant remaining.
At the end of the 19th century a number of dwellings were destroyed, and the inhabitants killed, by cave-ins. The population retreated to Saint Pierre de Sénos at the foot of the hill, where the Roman relay station of Sénomagus was located.
Protohistoric The oppidum of Tricastini here was probably the capital of the local people. The local historian, Guy Barruol, believes this was the celtic town of Aéria, described by the Greek geographer Strabon in the year 18. It is clear that the oppidum evolved into a Gallo-Roman village.
• GPS: 44.297446, 4.758807
IGN (1/25,000) #3042 OT "Tarascon, St-Rémy-de-Provence, Alpilles"
There are three "walks" clearly marked, from a tour of the troglodyte village itself to a day-long hike of the region.
Short (blue): under 2 km, this path takes you around the village and past the most interesting parts of the site.
Medium (yellow): under 3 km, this is an extension that takes you higher on the hill, to the orientation table (with a view not to be missed) and optionally to the ruins of the Chateau Barry at the top.
Long (red): 4-7 km, this trail takes you around the hill and out to the east to the ancient caves and cathedrals of the Chateau de Cabrières a couple of km to the east of the "village". It's only 2-3 hours of walking time, but you'll need more time to explore along the way.