Boulbon is a charming village in the north of the department of
Bouches du Rhône, between Avignon and Tarascon. Nestled in a fold
of La Montagnette, the land around Boulbon is divided between the
fertile plain used for farming and La Montagnette, a paradise for
walkers, mushroom gatherers and hunters (except for July to mid
September when access is prohibited because of the fire risk).
Visitors to Boulbon will discover
a typical mediaeval Provençal village. It has a fortified château
which dominates the village and fortifications which protected it
from attack. An attractive brochure produced by the mairie forms
a useful guide, with lots of information about the history concealed
in the old stones of the village.
As you leave the Place de
la Mairie at the entrance to the village you will pass through the
fortified gate, the Porte Loriol. On the left is the “Gardette”
(the building which formerly housed the guards who controlled people
entering and leaving the village). You will then find yourself in
Boulbon’s longest street, la Grand’rue, which boasts old houses
with lovely façades, some with Renaissance windows. You will also
pass the large 14th-century statue of St Christopher. Look out for
the old doors with sculpted pediments and little lanes which open
out into charming little squares with flower-bedecked windows.
Going along the ramparts from the
rue du Barri, you come to the foot of what remains of Boulbon’s
splendid feudal fortress. Its keep (11th century) can still be seen
but the defence towers, the machicolations, the living quarters
and the terraces sadly did not survive the many turbulent periods
in the village’s history.
far from the château is the church of St Anne, built in 1626, after which
you will come to the chapel of St Marcellin, a little gem of Romanesque
architecture, that you will reach via the street with the town hall on
it. The way into the chapel is through a wonderful semicircular portal.
The building is not only of interest for its architecture but also because
it is the scene every year of the rather unusual Bottle Procession, which
is without doubt the most picturesque of Boulbon’s festivals. It takes
place every year on the evening of June 1st.
around 7 pm the bells ring out and all the men and boys of the village
(the women and girls are excluded) hurry along behind the priest to process
to the Chapel of St Marcellin. Each man or boy carries one of his best
bottles of wine. At the end of the mass the
bottles are uncorked and the priest sings prayers and solemnly blesses
the wine. Then everyone clinks glasses and drinks religiously. Generally
they all then very carefully recork their bottles - thus enriched by reverent
prayer the wine will serve to soothe fevers, stomach aches and other illnesses
until the following June… Then the procession returns to the village,
uplifted and joyful.
What to see:
Ruins of the fortified château (not open to the public for safety reasons)
Fortifications. Chapel of St Julien.
Romanesque Chapel of St Marcellin
Michel de Frigolet (3 km from the village)
Market on Monday morning (Place Gilles Leontin)
Walking and horse riding.
Blessing of the bottles on 1 June
in August: Festival of St Eloi
Last weekend in
September: bullfighting festival
Accommodation and eating out:
Barbentane (7km), Graveson (13km),
Châteaurenard (21km), Maillane (16km).