Situated in the Alpilles mountain range not far from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Tarascon, Maillane is known most of all for being the birthplace of Frédéric Mistral. The poet, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1904 and fervent defender of the Provençal language, spent his whole life here. Still today the small market town preserves his memory with a museum devoted to him..
The Maillane Tourist Office and the Association des Chemins de Provence Prestige help you discover the architectural heritage and the history of the village, with a visit to the outstanding sites and reading the plaques inscribed in Provençal.
HOUSE OF THE LIZARD
The second house in Maillane, in Provence, where Frédéric Mistral lived with his mother from 1855 to 1876, as the plaque in front of the house testifies. He had "baptized" it the House of the Lizard by writing above the sundial a verse about time passing, using a lizard.
Today it has been converted into the municipal library, tourist office and Mistral research center, in accordance with the wishes of the Jeanne de Flandreysy Foundation, which donated this house to the Mayor's Office at the end of the 1950's.
The translation goes : "gay lizard, drink in your sun, the hour just passes too quickly and tomorrow it will maybe rain."
PLACE DES CAFÉS
Mistral loved playing cards with his friends. He played at Café du Soleil, but if you listen to his friends, he wasn't very good. He was better at composing poems.
The Café du Soleil is probably the oldest café in the village of Maillane, in Provence. It was even a hotel in the first half of the 20th century.
You will also find on this square the Café du Progrès where the famous chef Escoffier borrowed the recipe for "Aubergines au gratin".
In the beginning of the 13th century, Maillane counted three churches. Notre-Dame of Bethlehem, in a Romanesque style, became the parish church. Later, it took on the name Sainte Agathe, the village's patron saint. The two gothic chapels appeared later. Inside you can admire the 17th century high altar of white marble, classed as a historic monument and representing Christ and the disciples in Emmaüs. In a reliquary, situated to the left of the altar, you will see a statue of Notre-Dame de Grâce. This is a crowned virgin from the 13th century, who saved the population of Maillane during the cholera epidemic of 1854. It is an object of great veneration by the Maillanais. You can also stop in front of the altars to Saint Eloi, Saint Roch and Saint Agatha.
today houses the senior citizens club and the Maison des Associations. The building has had several functions : the village's hospital, housing meetings of the community council, today called the town council, a girls school...
In 1854, cholera struck Provence. While part of the population of Maillane, in Provence, died, others chose to flee. Some of the Maillanais who stayed organized on August 28, 1854 a penitential procession in honour of the Virgin. Following this procession, the epidemic came to an end. A plaque was set out in honour of the first miraculous survivor of the epidemic, Marthe Gautier.
Since 1854, every year on the same date, praying people have the duty and the honour of carrying the statue of Notre Dame de Grâce around the village in commemoration of the miracle.
On this road, you can also see a bit of the stained glass window from the chateau's former chapel.
RUE DU GÉANT
Its name refers to elephant bones found on this street, in all likelihood from the elephants Hannibal used during the 2nd Punic Wars (218-202 BC). This war brought Hannibal from North Africa to Rome to take vengeance on the Romans for what they inflicted on his city. His journey had him pass through the South of France and probably Maillane, in Provence.
At the corner of the street stands the statue of Saint Roch, patron saint of the sick and handicapped. In 1721, the village of Maillane, in Provence, was affected by the plague which had already reached Marseille in 1720. The village of Maillane, in Provence, councillors promised to honour the Saint with an annual procession if the village survived it.
CEMETERY & MISTRAL' S TOMB
Frédéric Mistral's tomb does not bear his name, in accordance with the poet's wishes.
He asked to have inscribed : "non nobis domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo, et Provinciae nostrae da gloriam", which can be translated as "not to us, Lord, but to your name and to our Provence give glory".
Mistral wanted glory for Provence, its culture and its language, glory for his own name mattered little to him.
On the tomb you will find several sculptures: one of two dogs, "Pan Perdu" and "Pan Panet", and two faces of Provençal women.
THE TOWN MILL
The mill was built in 1627 to the north of the town.Several times it changed owners before being purchased by the Mayor's Office at the end of the 19th century. For a bit more than half a century, the mill was in operation four times a week. The rest of the time, it was used for watering the gardens. It was destroyed in 1985. The paddle wheel was installed in place of the edifice.
Before the French Revolution, the Community Council (Town Council) met in the château in the center of the village of Maillane, in Provence. The meetings were then held in rooms at the Hospital, today the Roudelet.
In 1862, they built the present day building on the site of the former presbytery. You will see, to the west, the pediment that bears the coat of arms of Maillane (monogram of Christ and nails from the Passion), as well as gardener's tools. This detail well demonstrates the agricultural identity of the village.
THE FASSY BAKERY
Frédéric Mistral's maternal grandparents lived in the house now occupied by the Fassy bakery. Here, the young Frédéric and his mother met the notables of Maillane, in Provence, who had made it their meeting place.
Pour un petit creux, les gourmands feront une hâlte à la boulangerie Fassy, où l'on façonne de délicieuses fougasses depuis six générations. Pour une grosse faim, le village abrite une très bonne table : l'Oustalet Maianen connu pour sa cuisine provençale raffinée.
Continue your visit with a tour of the Mistral Museum and its garden of rare plants where this tour will take you. Stroll a bit more "in the steps of Frédéric Mistral", a country walk along the byways where orchards and farms join...
Maillane organises in the summer season many traditional festivals, the town's way of cultivating Provençal culture. If you like village fêtes, you must go to the "Carreto Ramado" – The Cart Race of the Festival of Saint Eligius – on the next to last weekend in July. A cart decorated with abalone shells is drawn at a gallop by twenty draught horses; it's the occasion for 4 days of festivities, taurine events and dances.
Horse-drawn cart race, the festival of Saint-Eloi in Maillane
Carreto Ramado, festival of Saint-Eloi in Maillane, in the Alpilles
Girls in traditional Provençal costume
Drummers with rustic pipes and tambourines in Maillane
Ranchers parade during a traditional fête in Maillane
The grave of Frédéric Mistral in Maillane, commemoration in homage to the poet
Place des Cafés in Maillane