Friday, July 31, 2015

Mollans-sur-Ouvèze, an insolite (unusual) village in the Drôme

I have been looking at pictures and racking my brain to figure out why Shirley and I ended up in Mollans-sur-Ouvèze. The village is about 30 minutes northeast of Sablet and for the world, I can't figure out why we were there. It's not on the way to anywhere we go, we didn't eat in a restaurant, or taste at a winery. But we were there. It was a most unusual village. Check out the pictures.

Mollans-sur-Ouvèze is a small village set in the Ouvèze River valley in an area known as the Baronies at the southernmost point of the Drôme. In case you don't know, the Department of Drôme borders the Vaucluse and was one of the original departments established during the French Revolution.

In the Middle Ages, Mollans-sur-Ouvèze was the border between the Comtat Venaissin and the Dauphiné region, the plains and the mountains. It was a gateway that had to be guarded to guarantee peace within the Baronnies - and so it came to be known as the "Baronnies Gate".

At that time the village had two castles, three towers and a drawbridge, all protected by a ring of defensive walls. Perched on craggy rocks, the two feudal castles (one of which has been restored) still overlook the village. The tiny chapel seen below was built in 1851.

Notre Dame-du-Pont Chapel

The single arch bridge seen below crosses over the Ouvèze River. It was built in medieval times.

Bridge over the Ouvèze River

The clock tower seen below is one of two towers that originally formed the main gates to the medieval walled village.

View across bridge to Clock Tower

The Dolphin Fountain seen below was built in 1713 and was the first fountain in Mollans-sur-Ouvèze. There are a total of 11 fountains in the village. The roofed washhouse with its seven arcades behind the fountain was built later that century.

Dolphin Fountain

Mollans-sur-Ouvèze is well known for its many mill products (wheat and oil), a silk-worm farm (one of the oldest and largest in the area) and many shops along the “Grande Rue”.

View down Mollans-sur-Ouvèze street with Clock Tower in distance

Saint-Marcel Church was built in the center of Mollans-sur-Ouvèze between 1787 and 1793.

Saint Marcel Church Bell Tower

The territory of Mollans-sur-Ouvèze was divided into two parts in the 13th century, two parishes, two monasteries and two castles, one seen below which has been restored.

Restored feudal castle

Pretty walls in Mollans-sur-Ouvèze

Arcade over street in Mollans-sur-Ouvèze

The Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs de Pitié Chapel also known as the White Penitents Chapel was built in 1743 and restored in 1951.

Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs de Pitié Chapel

Mairie (Town Hall)

At the top of the village stand the ruins of a fortress. All that is left is the base of the keep and some of its defensive structures. It was built by the Counts of Mévouillon in the 12th century, and today is private property.

Ruins of the castle built by the Counts of Mévouillon

If for some reason you find yourself near the border of the Drôme and the Vaucluse, take the turnoff and go take a walk about Mollans-sur-Ouvèze. It is worth the time. Have a great weekend. Chat soon.


  1. Very interesting, Michel and quite a find! Have a great week ahead...

    1. Mollans-sur-Ouveze was a very cute village and definitely worth pulling off the road to visit if you are in the area. Nice to hear from you Heather. I hope you are enjoying the summer.

  2. I am so glad that you did visit, history seems to be around every corner. I love these old towns and delving into a bit of research generally pays of. Great post Michel. Diane