Eygalières is probably the most beautiful village in the Alpilles, situated on the northern edge of the mountain chain just 10 kilometres from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Arriving in Eygalières, the eye is immediately drawn towards the top of its rocky outcrop. Up there you can see a statue of the Virgin Mary and a tower topped by a bell in a campanile.
Let's go take a closer look!
You can leave your vehicle at the bottom of the village, next to the new Saint-Laurent Church, built in 1905 in Romanesque Revival style. From there, a street leads past beautiful houses with carved doors – here, there are no pastel tones, everything is of limestone rock, in the image itself of the Alpilles. After a bit of easy walking, you're at the top.
Built in 1672 with stones taken from the former castle, the Clock Tower is the symbol of Eygalière's independence. In 1660, by paying the ransom demanded for the Duke de Guise, the village lord taken hostage by the Spanish, the villagers acquired the seigneurial rights over their lands.
The other edifice is the vestige of the 13th century castle keep of which only the vaulted ground floor still remains. The statue of the Virgin was placed on the roof in 1893 to commemorate a miracle (although today nobody knows what that miracle was...) and seems to still be protectively watching over the village.
The site offers you magnificent panoramas over the Alpilles and surroundings. You can see two old mills, one of which, the Tour du Prieur, had the top removed to become a pigeon coop.
Still up on the village heights, emerging from the ruins of the old village and castle, you will find the Penitents' Chapel from 1581 of which the flat bell-tower is missing its bell. The chapel was used as a mass grave during the Great Plaque of 1720. Today it houses the Maurice Pezet Museum of Local History.
A bit lower down, the old Saint-Laurent Church, in fitted stone and with a shale roof, dates from the 12th century. Altered in the 17th century, it lost nothing of its Romanesque style. The bell tower was destroyed during the French Revolution; later rebuilt, it never recuperated its bell.Missing bells seems to be an idiosyncrasy of Eygalières.
A little over a kilometre to the east of the village centre, you can visit the Saint Sixtus Chapel, set on a hillock and framed by cypresses. You have most certainly seen it already: it is the iconic image of Provence and Romanesque art.
At the time when a hermit lived there all alone some marauders came and stole his only companion, the bell. Ever since, when the strong mistral sweeps across the plain, the winds blow silently through the pinnacle...
Eyglières is quite a small village but you could spend the entire day here strolling around, admiring its wayside shrines, fountains and washhouses or having a bite to eat in one of the restaurants or cafés. On Friday mornings, the village becomes very lively with its big Provençal market.
View over the Alpilles from Eygalières
Saint Sixte chapel
Pénitents Blancs chapel
Remains of the Saint-Laurent chapel
Old house in the village
The Virgin on the remains of the donjon
Walk in the streets of Eygalières
Eygalières and its surrounding countryside