In the Valley of Les Baux de Provence at the foot of the southern face of the Alpilles, Mouriès is a Provençal village surrounded by hills, crests and olive trees, more than 80,000 of them!
If you love olives and traditionally pressed olive oil, Mouriès, with its olive orchards and oil mills, is for you. For over a thousand years, the town has been producing all types of olives and, notably, the “broken olives”, a specialty of the Valley of Les Baux. At the start of the 20th century, Mouriès had 11 olive oil mills; today, three of them are still operating and are open to the public. During the harvest in November and December, you can even watch them make oil using the traditional methods (cold pressed and unfiltered). The town has also prepared a circuit, the Route des Oliviers, that takes you from the olive orchards to the mills while passing through the museums and shops. What's more, the Green Olive and Olive Oil Festival (Fête des Olives Vertes et de l’Huile Primeur) on the 3rd weekend in September is a festive occasion to revel in these fruits.
Bell tower of the church of St Jacques in Mouriès
Entrance to the former oil mill in Mouriès
The olive trees of Mouriès
Mouriès is very attached to its traditions and knows how to celebrate them, with many festivals setting the pace for the season. “Here, it's a return to the land without even having been born here!” says Charles Aznavour, who has chosen Mouriès as his home.
Since 1927, the town has an arena where the taurine traditions are kept alive. Every year during the 3rd week in June, the Taurine Club organises the Fête du Ruban (Ribbon Festival) with abrivados, parades and the election of the Queen of the Ribbon.
For foodies, the pistou soup fête and concert takes place on August 15. And at the end of August, the village votive festival, renowned throughout the region, serves a tremendous aïoli in a convivial ambiance.
A typically Provençal village, Mouriès does not however have many significant historic edifices. You will see the Catholic church of Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur, built in a classical style, and also a Protestant church from 1824, proof that in Mouriès, at least, the two communities could live in harmony.
In any case, it is a pleasure to stroll the village streets, especially on Friday mornings when there is the Provençal market. And then have a pastis or a glass of rosé at an outdoor café in the shade of the sycamores, while nibbling a few olives...
In the area around Mouriès
To the north of the town, a marked trail leads to the oppidum of the Caisses de Jean-Jean on a plateau surrounded by steep cliffs to the north and south that join in the east to form an acropolis. Well fortified, this site was inhabited from the 4th century BC up until the end of the 3rd century AD. Excavations have uncovered ceramics and steles, some dating from an even earlier period. Today kept in Arles, these stele are engraved with horses and riders, perhaps as part of a chthonic ritual, with the horse carrying souls to the hereafter.
From the less distant past, the Route des Maisons Nobles de la Vallée des Baux lets you discover beautiful homes from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.