Jouques photo jouques0154s.jpg (11 k) Jouques is an interesting Medieval village built along the Réal river, south of the Durance and north of Aix-en-Provence.

Also:  | Aix-en-Provence Historic Itinerary Northeast | Lost Railways of Provence |

Nearby: | Aix-en-Provence 28 km | Ginasservis 24 km | Grambois 23 km | Gréoux-les-Bains 31 km | Meyrargues 10 km | Mirabeau 13 km | Pertuis 26 km | Peyrolles-en-Provence 5 km | Rians 12 km | Vauvenargues 17 km | Vauvenargues 17 km | Vinon-sur-Verdon 22 km |

Jouques is stretched out in a very narrow line beside the river, with the ruins of a Medieval Chateau and imposing church-sized chapel overlooking the village. The town lacks good terrace cafés and doesn't have much choice for restaurants, but it's an interesting place for an exploring visit.

The town is separated from the small Réal river by a prairie [Photo-02] and [Photo-04]. The large open prairie along the front of the town is lovely, but we're not sure of its purpose. When we visited in November and strolled across the freshly-cropped grass, there were very obvious signs (olfactory and visible) of recent occupation by a flock of sheep.

There is a walkway along the far side of the prairie, following the banks of the river, with benches and shade trees. For a number of centuries the river side was home to water mills for grain, olives and paper mills, along with tanning and wool workshops.

There's a nice little triple-arched stone bridge over the river into town, but it's not very visible now, being paralleled closely by a modern footbridge.

The layout of Jouques is quite interesting with the long parallel streets, including the main drag, with constant traffic, two "back" streets, and a higher road above it all. You can see the arrangement in our aerial photos, [Photo-03] and [Photo-04].

There are a limited number of traverses linking the long streets, so a wandering visit of the town requires the persistence to take a long walk along each of the streets. The streets are interesting for the old doorways to discover and the Medieval arches and facades along the way. Photo-08 shows a traverse between two of the lower streets.

The largest building complex in Jouques today is the remnant of the Medieval palace built by the d'Arbaud-Jouques. That ruling family also built an elegant mansion that is today's Mairie.

The 11th-century Saint Pierre church at the northwestern corner of town has been Jouque's main church from 1440 until now. The most recent renovation was going on during our visit in Nov 2009.

Commerce is minimal in Jouques, with the standard butchers, bakers, small grocery stores (ailmentation), and a few artisan/gift shops.

Ancient road sign at Joques, Aix Ancient road sign. Along the Bvd de la République we found this fascinating old road sign, pointing out the distance to Aix-en-Provence as 27079 metres, Rians as 6490 metres and 5827 metres to the border of the Bouches-du-Rhone department.

Fountains of Jouques

Jouques 4-spigot fountain, Bvd de Jouques has a lot of very nice fountains. We've included photos of five of the fountains: [Photo-10] to [Photo-14].

Chateau d'If

The main Medieval castle of Jouques was the Chateau d'If, high on the hill overlooking the town. The ruins of the old castle share the hilltop with the imposing Notre Dame de la Roque chapel [Photo-02].

Chateau and Gallerie

Joques chateau monumental steps The Chateau de Jouques was to be built in the middle of the western part of the village, around a central court. The Monumental Staircase was built, and vaults to support the chateau terrace. But construction was stopped for lack of funding (an age-old problem) and the chateau was never completed.

Today the area around the Monumental Staircase is the outdoors part of Galerie des Baumes (our photo here). The gallery has of course free entry, so you can visit the chateau area as well as see their offerings. Gallery items have a strong African theme, and the inside rooms resemble a cross between an antique store and a museum. We went away with a dark soapstone turtle.

5 bis Rue des Baumes

tel: 0442 632 873

web: www.galeriedesbaumes.com

History

Name

First record, 11th century ; Castrum de Jocis in the 12th century.

Prehistoric: A Neolithic grotto was located at Adaouste, near the Mirabeau bridge, 6 km northeast of the village.

Two Neolithic-Bronze Age dolmens are at Cudièrs, 4 km east of the village (on private property).

Celto-Ligurian: Four Celto-Ligurian (Iron Age) oppida are still visible in the area. The most obvious is the one located beside the Notre-Dame-de-Consolation chapel, 2 km north of the village. Celto-Ligurian interaction with Greeks and Etruscans in the villages around Jouques has been documented.

Gallo-Roman: The remains of eight Roman villas around the area of Jouques have been identified, along with coins and sculptures. A 30-km long Roman aqueduct took water from the Traconnade spring in Jouques to Aix-en-Provence. Remains of the aqueduct can be seen in the Défends hamlet and in the Gardis ares to the southwest. A Paleochristian alterpiece from late Roman times was discovered by the Réal river northwest of the village.

Medieval: Jouques was ruled by the Seigneur and the Archbishop of Aix-en-Provence until the 18th century, almost until the French Revolution. Both rulers kept summer palaces in Jouques, contributing to the interesting buildings remaining here today.

Following 1252, the Lords of Jouques belonged successively to three families: the Castellane, who built a second castle and sided with the Protestants during the Wars of Religion; the d'Albertas; the d'Arbaud Jouques, who worked against the French Revolution.

Office de Tourisme

33 bis Bvd de la République

Tel : 0442 637 504

Web: tourisme.jouques.fr/

Email: infos@provence-jouques.com

Across from the western end of the Grand Prairie, it's also the Maison de Pays selling local products such as wine. It has an excellent selection of brochures for walking, hiking and cycling routes.

Museum

Transportation Jouques

Bus

Hiking

Maps

IGN (1/25,000) #3244 ET "Ste Victoire, Gardanne, Trets"

The Office de Tourisme has guides for hiking, walking and cycling in the wider area, including for the department and for Provence as a whole.

The GR9 (Grande Randonnée) hiking trail passes through the center of Jouques.
• Northward the GR9 goes northeast to the hamlet of Bèdes and north to cross the Durance at the Pont de Mirabeau.
• To the south the GR9 crosses small woods and farmlands before getting into low hills approaching Vauvenargues. From there the trail continues southeast to the peak of famous Montagne Saint-Victoire and its Croix de Provence (946 m), east of Aix-en-Provence.

A 2h40 loop hike (about 9 km) north of Jouques uses part of the GR9 to Bèdes along with other trails and lanes. North of Bèdes it crosses west to the Notre-Dame de Consolation chapel overlooking the Durance (2 km north of Jouques) before dropping south and looping back to town.

Dining

We only found two low-end restaurants here, both along the main drag. We ate in the pizza-restaurant Lou Cassaïre, on the main Bvd de la République by the junction with the Bvd du Réal. The small place had acceptable food, fair (low) prices and great service-with-a-smile.

Lodging - Hotels