•Bouches-du-Rhône (13640) • Population: 3,923 • Altitude: 175 m
This ancient village is located about half way between Aix-en-Provence and Cavaillon, on the south bank of the Durance river close by the Silvacane Abbey.
The center piece of the village is the lovely Chateau de Florans in the very center. The chateau is privately owned and houses a well-known dietetique clinique. The grounds are open to the public for only one month of the year: for the annual Piano Concert that takes place from about mid-July to Mid-August.
Every summer the village hosts the Piano Concert on the chateau grounds, and participates in stringed-instrument concerts with the Silvacane Abbey and other nearby villages. Apart from the musical attractions, the village is a rather quiet and calm place. There is an olympic-sized swimming pool complex with water slides and such things, open all summer, which helps attract school vacation groups and other visitors.
In the center of the village, beside the front of the chateau, is a large terrace café, and there are a couple of gift-souvenir shops. A couple of blocks up through the village you'll find the shady and picturesque Place de la Republic, with pretty Provençal facades, the Mairie and another terrace café.
The old village in laid out in a rectilinear pattern, similar in style to the Medieval rectilinear layouts of Valbonne, Aigues-Mortes and Saint Chamas. These long parallel streets in La Roque-d'Anthéron are a bit booring for casual strolling and discovery, but we did find a few interesting things while exploring.
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History of La Roque-d'Anthéron
First record, 11th century, with an uncertain etemology.
The site of La Roque-d'Anthéron showed signs of habitation from prehistoric times and Gallo-Roman times.
Medieval: Ruled by the Baux from the 11th century. At the end of the 14th century rule passed to the Pontevès.
The Office de Tourisme for La Roque-d'Anthéron is worth a visit of its own. The upper floor contains a mini-museum, including diaporamas and some excellent displays. There's even an extremely comfortable old couch for the weary. The office is open year-round; on two levels during the summer, but upstairs only in the winter. The olympic swimming pool is just behind the Office de Tourisme.
Wed-Sun (closed Mon-Tue)
June - Fete de la Cerise - Cherry Festival - parades, horses, folklorique groups - also a 10km walk.
July-Aug - Festival International de Piano; open air and Silvacane Abbey
Aug - Fete votive de la Saint Louise, tradition and folklore.
Sep - Running - Marche Populaire; 10 and 20 km, start-finish at Hameau de la Baume village de vacances
Geology Museum - Musée de géologie et d'ethnographie
- Sharing the same location in the heart of the old village is the Museum Geologie Provencale and the Centre d'Evocation Vaudois. The first is, of course, a museum of geology and pre-history. The second is a museum about the Vaudois: a Christian sect founded in the 12th century that was promenent in the Wars of Religion.
- Location: Cours Foch
- Entry: 4 €
- Tel: 0442 534 132
Available at the Office de Tourisme.
• GPS: 43.726422, 5.310153
IGN (1/25,000) #3143 ET "Aix-en-Provence, Vitrolles, Lambesc"
IGN (1/25,000) #3243 OT "Pertuis, Lourmarin"
La Roque-d'Anthéron is a good place for hiking. There are a lot of loop-hikes in the forested hills in a broad arc to the south.
One of the longer loops to the southwest goes by the 11th-century Chapelle Sainte-Anne-de-Goiron and the troglodyte grottos at the same location.
Hiking trails east and west follow along the canal and the Durance valley, good for bird watching and without climbing. There's also a short loop hike to the north, also along the Durance, past La Petite Camargue.
Dining is a bit limited in La Roque-d'Anthéron in the off-season, and you might have to head over to Cadenet for dinner. There's a lot more choice here in the summertime, though.
Transportation La Roque-d'Anthéron
Department 13, Bouches-du-Rhône Buses
- See Beyond's Bouches-du-Rhone (13) Bus Schedules for downloading Bouches-du-Rhone bus-lines map and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
There is one hotel in the village of La Roque-d'Anthéron: the Mas de Jossyl is a Logis de France hotel, located a short walk from the center. We've stayed there a couple of times and found it very pleasant.