Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Le Barroux, a Village with an Impressive Château

After a delicious lunch at Le Tourne au Verre in Cairanne that I told you about here, we headed for Le Barroux. I had recently been told that my grandfather owned a home in Le Barroux and I was on a mission to find the house.

It was exciting to think that grandfather had owned a house so close to our village and that surely my father must have come to that house. I had no idea how I was going to find the house since I didn't have an address or know anything further than he had a house there.

A friend's father told me about going to his parent's village in Sicily and not knowing anybody or where they lived, he walked into the village and loudly called out his family name and several relatives materialized from houses. I wondered if that might work for me but opted to just walk around.

Le Barroux is a small village (population 656) in the Vaucluse, southeast of Sablet, perched on a rocky outcrop on the other side of the Dentelles de Montmirail from Sablet. Le Barroux is known for its château perched like an eagle's nest right at the top of the village.

Le Barroux Château

The château was built in the 12th century as a defense against Saracen and Italian incursions, and went through major overhauls in the 16th and 17th centuries. The château was damaged during the French Revolution, repaired in 1929 using private funds, set on fire by German occupation troops in 1944 as reprisal for acts of resistance, and restored again after 1960.

Le Barroux Defensive Wall

Shirley and Kari explore Le Barroux

The Hôtel Dieu, the original hospital of Le Barroux was built in the 16th century. It is now privately owned.

Le Barroux Hôtel Dieu (hospital)

During the off-season, like when we were there, the village seems a bit sleepy, as if it's more of a place to vacation than to live. It's very pretty and not spoiled by shops selling trinkets for tourists. The narrow streets wind between lovely old buildings, with many little squares with fountains hidden away for discovery.

Le Barroux street

Sign marking the entrance to the old olive oil mill built in 1792

Inside the old olive oil mill

Le Barroux Town Hall

Le Barroux Château

Construction for the Roman style Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church began in the 14th century. The iron campanile was added in the 16th century.

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church Belfry and Iron Campanile

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church

Outside the village is the Benedictine Abbey named Sainte Madeleine du Barroux, founded in 1978 by a French Roman Catholic abbot named Dom Gérard Calvet. If you are interested, the monks of Sainte Madeleine du Barroux stream their chanted Office each day. You can get more details on their website.

Sainte Madeleine du Barroux Abbey

Besides the beauty of the abbey and site, this abbey is also a worthwhile stopping point for foodies. Much of the produce sold in its shop is generated by the monks who live and farm here; the logo MO-NAS-TIC indicates which items are theirs. With 900 olive trees and a mill developed in 2000, the abbey has become famous for its olive oil.

Nearby, is L'Aube Safran, which produces the most fragrant saffron as I told you here.

The Interior of Sainte Madeleine du Barroux Abbey

Well after wandering around the Le Barroux, I didn't find anyone or anyplace that would give me any leads for finding my grandfather's house. I did find out that Charles, Prince of Wales spent a week in Le Barroux back in November of 1990, convalescing after an operation.

With my father gone, and most of his cousins gone or fading memories or knowledge, I am not hopeful that I will ever discover it. But it's fun to wander around and imagine my father exploring the village years ago.

Have a great day. Chat soon.


  1. As always - beautiful photos! Merci, Michel!

    1. Thank you so much Barbara. I hope you are having a great summer.

  2. Truly beautiful photos, Michel. I was wondering if there is a tabac-presse in Le Barroux? Maybe you could put up a small sign saying that you are looking for information about your Grandfather with a contac number and email??

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Heather. How are You? There was almost no commercial activity in Le Barroux.

  3. Hi Michel. If you want to find out where your grandparents lived, by far the best way to do it is to go the closest Mormon Family History Center (there's one in Avignon) and ask them to get you the microfilms of birth and marriage records from their town for the appropriate data ranges. They will order the films from Salt Lake City and you can look at them at the Family Center using their microfilm readers. It's free and you don't need to be Mormon to do it. I guarantee you will find your grandparents' addresses. The only thing is I don't think the Mormons will give you access to microfilms less than 100 years old, for privacy reasons. But if your grandparents were born more than 100 years ago, you should be good. If not, you can always go for your great grandparents.

    1. Thanks for checking in to visit my blog. Thanks very much for your suggestion. I will be in Salt Lake in a few weeks and will see what I can find out while I am there.

  4. Oh, fantastic - you can do a year's worth of genealogy / family research in a few days in Salt Lake City because they have all the microfilms right there (or can get them in less than 24 ours I believe). So definitely do that! I'll be very surprised if you don't find your grandparents (as well as great grandparents, great-great grandparents, etc). Ask them for the films for marriage and birth records in Le Barroux for a bracket of a few decades around your grandparents birth dates. The look for your grandparents' birth and/or marriage records. It will really help if you also have your great-grandparents' names so that you can positively identify your grandparents' birth records. Otherwise, your grandparents' marriage record will give you your great-grandparents' names, and you can go backwards from there if you want to.

  5. We just had dinner at the Hotel Dieu with our friends the owners. Thanks for this lovely piece. Le Barroux is a wonderful village. We love Provence.

    1. Hi. Thanks so much for stopping in to check out my blog. I am very happy you enjoyed the post about Le Barroux.