A short trail to discover the hidden attractions of the upper part of Cabrières d'Avignon: the distinctive architecture of the village houses, porticos and dry-stone walls, fountains and wash-houses, the cedar forest. It also includes Léopold Truc's "paradise", stone shelters ("bories") and olive groves.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Park on the free car park behind the town hall.
(D/A) Go to the Cours Jean Giono and turn left. At the crossroads, you will find a first fountain and the old town hall, now converted into a multimedia resources centre. Turn right on to the Grand'Rue and walk up towards the top of the village. Pass the Church of Saint Vincent to reach a crossroads with a fountain.
(1) Turn right along the Rue des Pasquiers and continue straight on to the Chemin des Pasquiers. There are a fountain and a former wash-house at the junction. Turn left up the Chemin des Pasquiers. At the junction, turn right along the Rue Haute.
The second wash-house of the village is situated on the Place Haute. Carry on along the Rue Haute as far as the cedar forest, following the yellow waymarking. Note a borie on the right at the junction with the Chemin des Aires. You then arrive at the picnic area in the cedar forest.
(2) Follow the main track to a barrier. Just before the barrier, turn left on to the fitness trail marked in yellow, with a notice board at the starting point and signs explaining the exercises along the way. Follow this trail for about 300 m towards a sign offering a choice between continuing straight on along the fitness trail or bearing right to follow the nature trail. A few yards before this junction, turn left and continue downhill to the tarmac road.
You are following the Chemin des Fileuses (the "Silk Spinners' Way"), though the route is not yet marked as such at this point. On reaching the road, turn left and then immediately right along the lane marked "Chemin des Fileuses".
Stay on this lane until the next road. On the right-hand side of this section, note Léopold Truc's "paradise". Follow this lane between olive groves and dry-stone walls. After a short distance, there is a little borie on the left. At the end of the dirt road, turn left down the Chemin des Barres towards the village.
(3) At the end of the Chemin des Barres, where it intersects with the dead-end Chemin de la Muscadelle, note one of the marker posts for the Plague Wall, which runs along the hill a few hundred metres to the right. Carry straight on, bearing left down the Chemin de la Pourtalette towards the village.
(4) Follow the curtain wall of the castle as far as the entrance gate, then take the Rue du Vieux Four and follow it as far as the Chemin Eustache Marron to see the back of the castle. Retrace your steps and head left down the picturesque Chemin de la Calade with its cobbled pavement.
On reaching the tarmac road, note a pretty well on the left. Turn right down the Rue de la Baronnette. At the end of the street, note the third wash-house of Cabrières d'Avignon. Turn left to reach the fountain at point 1. Walk down the Grand'Rue and return to the car park (D/A), following the outward route in reverse.
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 538ft
1 : mi 0.17 - alt. 568ft - Fountain
2 : mi 0.72 - alt. 712ft - Cedar forest picnic area
3 : mi 1.74 - alt. 617ft - Intersection of the fitness and nature trails
4 : mi 1.87 - alt. 587ft - Cabrières castle
D/A : mi 2.34 - alt. 541ft
(3) At this point, it is possible to take the Terre Rouge lane to extend the walk and link up with the discovery trail south-west of Cabrières d'Avignon: route No 4450165.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
(D/A) The building houses the town hall and post office and was built in 1977 to replace the old town hall, which can be seen beside the first fountain of the walk.
The old town hall was built in 1760. At the time, it comprised a council meeting chamber, lodgings for the schoolmaster of the boys' school and a loft used as a silkworm nursery. In 1983, once the municipal administration had been transferred to new premises, the building was converted into a library and then a multi-media resources centre.
(1) The various fountains in the village are supplied by an underground network of water conduits of an unusual design. Some of these conduits are still functioning but others have been blocked by falls of earth or by sealing of the access or ventilation shafts: see [http://www.pierre-seche-en-vaucluse...]
(2) The existing cedar forest was first seeded in 1860. With its picnic spot and fitness trail, this 10-acre forest provides pleasant, shady walks in hot weather.
: At the end of the XIXth century, silkworm rearing was very widespread in the Luberon.
In 1886, the silk spinning mill at Fontaine Basse in Gordes was destroyed by fire. The spinners had to go to work in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, following the route now known as the Chemin des Fileuses.
: Léopold Truc started to create his Paradise, his life's work, in 1955. He patiently decorated the walls of his house and the ground in his garden with mosaics of ceramic shards, broken crockery, pebbles and shells. This is a private property bordering on the lane and can be visited on national heritage day.
: a typical dry-stone structure.
: In 1720, an outbreak of plague originating in the vessel Le Grand Saint-Antoine occurred in Marseille and spread throughout Provence and in the Comtat Venaissin. In 1721, France and the Comtat Venaissin built the Plague Wall, a dry-stone wall 27km long, from Méthamis to Cavaillon. Some sections can still be seen. The intention was to restrict the spread of the epidemic and protect the population by preventing people from moving from the infected zone to the unaffected zone.
The engraving on the stone posts depicts the plague doctors. They wore a beaked mask stuffed with aromatic herbs to counter the stench. They used a wand to examine the patients without touching them. Their clothing was often made of leather, essentially in order to provide protection against the fleas present in the houses.
(4) Cabrières castle was built from the XIth and XIIth centuries onwards by the Adhémar family.
In the XVth century, in Cabrières as elsewhere in the south of France, depopulation resulting from the Black Death and the Hundred Years' War led the local lords to encourage Waldensian families from Piedmont to settle and cultivate their lands. In the early 1530s, the Waldensians began to be regarded as heretics. From 1540 on, Waldensian villages were pillaged and burnt by royal troops and papal mercenaries. Eustache Marron, the head of the Waldensian resistance, was based in Cabrières d'Avignon. On 19th and 20th April 1545, the Waldensian population under his leadership took refuge in the castle, as the only fortified building. In a few hours, a breach was opened: the population was massacred, the houses destroyed and the church burnt.
The castle has been listed as a historical monument since 1979.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.