At the confluence of the Durance and Rhône rivers, in the northernmost part of the Bouches du Rhône department, Barbentane leans against the small Montagnette mountain range and dominates the rich alluvial plains all around it.
It's a small village with a soul and a rich heritage, ideally situated just 10 km from Avignon, 20 km from Saint-Rémy de Provence and the Alpilles, 30 km from Arles and the gates to the Camargue.
Barbentane is a typical medieval and Provençal village. Strolling its winding lanes bordered by old stone houses, you can admire the Historic Monuments in which the village abounds. In the heart of the village, one of the oldest of those buildings is the Romanesque church and its delightful bell tower built in the 12th century. Just next to it is the Maison des Chevaliers (the Knights' House), also dating from the 12th century and altered in the 15th.
Twenty-eight metres high, the Angelica Tower, built in 1365 and crowned by a round turret, overlooks the village. It had been the keep of the episcopal château. As was the custom in the Middle Ages, the village developed around the château, protected by the fortified ramparts. Two of the ramparts gates still exist today: the Calendale gate from 1302 at the northern entrance and the Seguier Gate to the south. This latter draws its name from the Provençal word "seca", which means to dry, the villagers at the time used to dry their fruits and vegetables there.
At the bottom of the village, you can't miss the splendid Renaissance château nicknamed the "Petit Trianon of the Sun". The Marquis de Barbentane had the château built in 1674 and his son added features in 1741. It is still the residence of the family of the marquis.
The "most Italian of the châteaux of Provence" houses period furnishings and sumptuous plasterwork and Carrara marble. Unfortunately, since 2014 the château is no longer open to the public. But through its fence, you can see the Italian-style terraces adorned with balustrades and sculptures and leading onto the magnificent park. The ensemble of the château with the farm buildings and the park are listed as a Historic Monument since 1949.
Barbentane also lets you escape into nature. The state forest of La Montagnette has never fallen victim to urban development and even the hills, which were widely cultivated in the past, are today overrun by pine forests with their inebriating scents as well as olive and almond trees and the ever-present thyme... Smaller than the Alpilles, La Montagnette is great for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
At the edge of the village, as you head to the Saint-Michel de Frigolet Abbey nestling in the heart of the Montagnette, you can admire the Bretoule Mill, the only remaining mill of the six that once belonged to the town of Barbentane.
The Moulin of Bretoule in Barbentane
The Saint-Michel de Frigolet Abbey