Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ménerbes, Peter Mayle's First Village in Provence

I fell in love with France, or at least a tiny part of it, during childhood trips to the Metairie Neuve, the family farm located near Viane Pierre-Segade, a small hamlet about 15 km from Lacaune in the southeast department of Tarn in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France.

It wasn't until quite a few years later that I discovered and began a love affair with Provence and began to dream about owning a home there through the pages of Peter Mayle's charming book, "A Year In Provence" and his other books that followed.

If you don't know, "A Year in Provence," describes Provence, its culture and the people Mayle, a retired advertising executive, meets after he and his wife leave London, buy a stone farmhouse in a Luberon village, fix it up, and adopt the region as their new home.

The village where Mayle and his wife settled was Ménerbes, a small walled village perched on the top of a long ridge of the north face of the Luberon. Ménerbes is classified as one of the Plus Beaux Villages of France.

One day last spring, wife Shirley and friend Kari and I drove from Sablet to Ménerbes to visit Peter Mayle's village (I should mention that the Mayle's don't live there anymore). Here are a few pictures from our visit to Ménerbes that day.

Ménerbes

The city of Ménerbes and its citadel were the site of a major battle between Huguenots and Catholics, called the Siege de Ménerbes, which lasted from 1573 to 1578 during the French Wars of Religion. The Protestants finally agreed to negotiations, apparently because of a lack of drinking water, surrendering on December 9, 1578 to a "glorious capitulation."

Ménerbes

Narrow streets wind up and down between lovely old buildings.

Ménerbes Street

Pretty Ménerbes House

Ménerbes House

Saint-Blaise Chapel was built in 1734 by the Brotherhood of Pénitents Blanc. During the Revolution, it served as a gathering place for the Republicans and its façade was very damaged. Today, it serves as a place of worship during the winter.

Saint-Blaise Chapel

Ménerbes village street, looking southeast

Ménerbes Iron Cross and Fountain

At Place de l'Horloge at the top of Ménerbes is the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin (House of Truffles and Wine) in a beautifully restored, grand village house. There you can find out all about the truffles and wines of the region, as well as take wine appreciation courses in the summer.

Maison de la Truffe et du Vin (House of truffles and wine)

Monument honoring the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1789

Ménerbes Town Hall

The clock tower and wrought-iron campanile at Place de l'Horloge were built in the 15th century. Through the arch, there is a magnificent view out across the plains with several villages visible.


Ménerbes town hall with its wrought-iron "campanile"

Ménerbes Town Hall

Saint-Luc Church was built in the 16th century on the foundation of Saint-Sauveur Church. It is currently undergoing renovation.

Saint-Luc Church

Iron Cross

Gated Entrance to Ménerbes Home

Looking back towards Clock Tower at Place de l'Horloge in Ménerbes

Ménerbes' ancient fortified wall and round tower

If you go to Ménerbes, you might want to stop by the Musée du Tire-Bouchon (Cork Screw Museum) at La Citadelle winery about 1 km outside Ménerbes on the road to Cavaillon. The museum displays 1000 cork screws from the 17th century to today.

I think the Mayles were attracted to Ménerbes more for the house and the surrounding area rather than the village itself. While Ménerbes and the surrounding area are very pretty, there is not much life in the village as far as we could see.

Have a great week. Chat soon.

5 comments:

  1. I love A Year In Provence and I love Menerbes, what I do not love is paying €5 for an ice cream cone there. They're nuts! Personally, I blame Peter Mayle ;)

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    1. Bonjour Sara. I think there are a lot of things we can blame on Peter Mayle, maybe the 5 Euro ice cream cone should be included on the list. Have a great day.

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  2. Great photos - I was there in July and found it difficult to photograph. Yours are really good ...

    Jane Dunning (on Facebook Jane Dunning Author of Thirty-five minutes from St Tropez)

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    1. Hello Jane. Thanks for stopping in to visit my blog. I appreciate your kind feedback about my pictures of Menerbes.

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  3. LOVELY photos Michel!! I am from Pondichery, India and have been lucky enough to visit parts of France, yet to make it to Menerbes! Your pics here are a treat, and truly tempting... hope to make a visit some day!!

    Madhu VENKATTAN

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