A short trail to discover the hidden attractions of the western part of Cabrières d'Avignon: olive groves, vineyards, hills, cedars, the Plague Wall (the "Mur de la Peste")
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 car park behind the town hall of Cabrières d'Avignon.
(D/A) Go to the Cours Jean Giono and turn left. You quickly come to a crossroads.
(1) Here you will find a first fountain and the old town hall, now converted into a multimedia resources centre. Take the old road towards Lagnes (the "Ancienne Route de Lagnes"), and then the first left towards the Saint Eusebius Chapel. At the various intersections, continue straight on till you reach the chapel.
(2) Take the road leading to the right. Continue on a path with red and white markings (the long-distance path GR® 6). Rely on the waymarking at the various intersections with scrubland tracks. At the T-junction turn right to reach the Cabrières d'Avignon quarry. Skirt the quarry with the perimeter fence on your right and continue round the tip of the quarry, where there is a fine view of the excavation.
At the first junction after the quarry tip, turn left, still following the GR®6 and its red and white markings. Skirt round the left of the field. After the beehives, keep left and continue on the GR®6. Care is needed, since the painted crosses indicating the direction not to be taken are sometimes more easily visible than the bars marking the right way. Keep an eye open for the marks on the tree trunks.
Just before the D100 road, take the track on the left and follow the road, crossing it a little higher up at the monument to Franc Kleber and the group of resistance fighters known as the Maquis du Chat. You will then find one of the marker posts commemorating the Plague Wall. Take this path, which is still marked in red and white. It leads uphill at first to reach an old shrine. Continue straight on, then follow the path until it intersects with the Plague Wall.
(3) Turn left along the Plague Wall, noting a sign to La Pouraque. Note the remains of guardhouses which provided shelter for the sentries guarding the wall. Follow the wall until it intersects with a firefighting access track (DFCI) at a water cistern.
(4) At this point, leave the GR®6 to turn sharp right down a path heading south. At the next junction, bear right. Thereafter head left to reach a second cistern at the junction with the Chemin de Terre Rouge.
(5) Take this lane to the right and follow it to the tarmac road, the Chemin des Barres. Turn right towards the village, then left and left again. Pass in front of the castle and the wash-house. Continue straight on. Turn right, past the Church of Saint Vincent. Continue straight on to the crossroads with the fountain which you passed when starting out.
(1) Return to the car park at the town hall, following the outward route in reverse (D/A).
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 538ft
1 : mi 0.08 - alt. 551ft - Crossroads at the fountain
2 : mi 0.8 - alt. 459ft - Saint Eusebius Chapel
3 : mi 2.52 - alt. 705ft - Junction with the Plague Wall
4 : mi 3.22 - alt. 1014ft - Intersection for return to Cabrières
5 : mi 3.78 - alt. 741ft - Chemin de Terre Rouge cistern
D/A : mi 4.45 - alt. 541ft
(5) To give a longer hike, this walk can be combined with the discovery trail north-west of Cabrières d'Avignon: route No 4345668
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
(D/A) The building housing the town hall and post office 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.
(2) Saint Eusebius Chapel: dates from the middle ages, was destroyed in 1545 during the campaign against the Waldensians and subsequently rebuilt.
Between points (2) and (3) there is initially typical Provençal vegetation: thyme, wild lavender, boxwood. The cedar forest then becomes much more dense after the quarry. The trees are still young. (Their top is still straight. Once they are mature, the top of the tree consists of a horizontal branch.)
(4) The Plague Wall: 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.
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