Mornas photo mornas022s.jpg (9 k) Mornas is a picturesque medieval village, stretched and narrow at the foot of a high cliff. In front is the N7 highway, fields and the autoroute. Behind, on top of the cliffs, is the fortress of Mornas. The fortress ruins are visible for a long distance to the west, and to passing motorists on the autoroute. The front of the village along the highway is only moderately inviting at first glance, but there's more inside.

Also:  | Ardèche Gorges |

 | Bollène 11 km | Cairanne 23 km | Carpentras 34 km | Gigondas 31 km | Mondragon 5 km | Orange 11 km | Pont-Saint-Esprit 12 km | Richerenches 28 km | Suze-la-Rousse 18 km | Vacqueyras 27 km | Valréas 35 km |

The village is in two parts. The walled old town is long and very narrow, with a single street, the rue Grande, through from end to end. The northern end is walled, with its old "porte" [photo-3]. The southern-end wall with the 14th-century porte Saint NIcolas opens onto an open square with a tall fountain [photo-4]. We found another ancient stone fountain [photo-5] in the village by the Mairie. Typical of Rhône valley villages, Mornas was inundated by at least one flood. The plaque on the Mairie wall (to the left of the fountain in the photo) marks the flood level for 31 May 1856 at nearly 2 meters high.

This square is at the end of the short Cours des Platanes dividing the two ends of the village is (surprise) lined with beautiful and enormous old platane trees. Cafés and the post office are here. The newer part of the village, still not much more modern than medieval, continues around the base of the cliff to the south.

A steep narrow road goes up the narrow valley past the cemetery to lovely old stone church [photo-6], the 11th-12th-c romanesque Notre-Dame-du-Val-Romigier. There's a limited parking area just above the church, but it's only a short (and steep) walk from the village. From the church, a very steep road leads up to the fortress.

Fortress

The fortress of Mornas is interesting to visit for history, rocky beauty and the magnificent view (as far as Marseille on a clear day) [photo-8 and 9]. The "Amis de Mornas" have been restoring the fortress, slowly but steadily, since 1978. On some days, they have "animated" visits, with costumed monks, knights and damsels acting out medieval roles, and interacting and chatting with the visitors.

The huge feudal fortress, with stone walls, towers, chateau and chapels was built on top of the cliffs in the 12th-century by the Earl of Toulouse, and was one of the largest in France. The site of the fortress had been occupied since Roman times, and probably had a wooden tower and walls in the Middle Ages. From the 10th century, the Earl of Toulouse owned Mornas, but was in constant conflict with the King of France and the Archbishop of Arles until the 13th-century.

The Popes of Avignon took control of Mornas at the beginning of the 13th century, and Pope Gregory XI had the fortress restored to protect it from roaming vagrants who looted and devastated everything in their path.

During the Wars of Religion in the 16th century there was vicious fighting for control of the fortress. In 1562, The Calvinistes of the Marquis de Montbrun captured it, massacred the women and children, and threw the garrison over the cliff onto the spikes below; they allowed only a single person to escape. In 1568, Mornas was retaken by François de La Baume, and the same fate was inflicted on the Protestant garrison.

The strategic importance of the site diminished over the years, and the fortress was already abandoned by the time of the French Revolution.

Les Amis de Mornas
Rue Henri Thinel
84550 Mornas
Tel: (33) 04 90 37 01 26; Fax: (33) 04 90 37 09 88
"Animated" visits
Entry: 30 F
7 Mar - 30 June: Sun, holidays
July-Aug: Sun-Fri (not Sat)
Closed: 12h30-13h30
Simple visits
Entry: 17 F
Feb-Nov: Sundays, 13h30-17h
1-6 Mar: every day, 13h30-17h
7 Mar - 30 June: Wed, Sat, 10h-17h
July-Aug: Sat, 10h-18h
Sept-Oct: every day, 10h-17h

History

Name

First record, 818 Morenatus; 1037 Mornaz

Medieval: Mornas was the domain of the Archbishop of Arles until 1274, and then owned by Saint-Siège who feudalized the lands to various lords, including Raymond V of Toulouse and Hugues de Mondragon.

Transportation Mornas

Bus

Hiking

Maps

IGN (1/25,000) #3042 OT "Tarascon, St-Rémy-de-Provence, Alpilles"

Immediately northeast of Mornas (between Bollène and Orange) is the mostly forested Massif d'Uchaux.

One hiking trail, the Tour du Massif d'Uchaux, circles the area, passing by Mornas, Mondragon, Rochegude, Sérignan-le-Comtat and back to Mornas.

The GR4 hiking trail passes east-west through the center of the area.
• East, the GR4 continues on to Lagarde-Paréol, Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes and Cairanne.
• West, the GR4 goes past Mondragon to Pont-Saint-Esprit and beyond.

Lodging - Hotels