Barry Troglodyte Village
Sitting on a forested hill in the northwestern-most corner of the Vaucluse is an ancient troglodyte village that's very picturesque and historically interesting: it was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic until the early 20th century. The site located just a few minutes drive north of Bollène, and has free access in a very natural setting.
Barry is a village of caves and stone buildings built into the south side of a tall hill (312 m) that overlooks the Rhône valley and the Donzère-Mondragon canal. From the top of the hill, near the Chateau de Barry ruins, there's a magnificent view across the countryside north, west and south.
Driving north only 2 km from Bollène on the D26, the turnoff is marked to the right. The small road, named Montée de Barry zig-zags up a narrow valley and ends at the "village". The parking area is simply along the right-hand edge of the road. The wide part of the road just in front of the barrier is where you turn around for the return trip.
The cliffs on the east (right) side of the valley have caves and stone construction, but mostly hidden in the foliage and pretty run down. The main part of the site is on and around the cliffs to the west. The habitation here is a variation and mixture, from caves skillfully carved into the side of the cliffs to stone buildings (such as the 1692 Notre Dame d'Esperance chapel standing in front of the cliffs.
Walking is easy .... Walking from the parking area to the first part of the village is easy, and takes about 10 minutes, even with time to read the information panels along the way. You can continue along the wide path that circles around the lower part of the area without any climbing, and see quite a few of the stone structures fronting the cliffs.
And a bit harder ..., if you want to explore the paths, buildings and caves that are along side the main path, but up a few steps and a few short inclined paths. It does take just a bit of step climbing, but not much energy and this cave area is very interesting.You can wander between different structures and explore inside the caves, so of them with fireplace, or sink area, or even inside stairs.
Walking is hard .... After following the wide path that circles around to the south side of the troglodyte area, the path branches right, and up, and is much more difficult than a simple stroll. As it rises higher, the path becomes very rocky, following a rugged track across solid rock surfaces to access the upper part of the village.There are more standing structures nearer the top, and a few more caves.
Still, if you can handle a bit of "off-road" hiking, its not very far, and near the top there are more stone and cave structures, and a magnificent view.The view south (this photo) looks out over the top of Bollène, with the Donzère-Mondragon canal heading south down the Rhône valley. Around to the right a few steps is a panorama guide and a view west, out over a large commercial center, across the Rhône and past a nuclear power center.
History of Barry Troglodyte Village
First record, Barros was a celtic word meaning a rocky ridge, evolving to Barry, completely unrelated to the Duke of Barry in central France.
The information panels here mark five distinct periods of habitation, all without interruption:
1 - Prehistoric
2 - Protohistoric
3 - Gallo-Roman
4 - Medieval
5 - Modern
Early weapons found her include paleolithic arrow heads, knives and neolithic polished-stone axes.
The decline over the last couple of centuries was slow but steady: There was a population of 500 in the 18th century, down to 50 people in the 19th century. In the beginning of the 20th century, there was only one widow and her servant remaining.
At the end of the 19th century a number of dwellings were destroyed, and the inhabitants killed, by cave-ins. The population retreated to Saint Pierre de Sénos at the foot of the hill, where the Roman relay station of Sénomagus was located.
ProtohistoricThe oppidum of Tricastini here was probably the capital of the local people. The local historian, Guy Barruol, believes this was the celtic town of Aéria, described by the Greek geographer Strabon in the year 18. It is clear that the oppidum evolved into a Gallo-Roman village.
• GPS: 44.297446, 4.758807
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There are three "walks" clearly marked, from a tour of the troglodyte village itself to a day-long hike of the region.
Short (blue): under 2 km, this path takes you around the village and past the most interesting parts of the site.
Medium (yellow): under 3 km, this is an extension that takes you higher on the hill, to the orientation table (with a view not to be missed) and optionally to the ruins of the Chateau Barry at the top.
Long (red): 4-7 km, this trail takes you around the hill and out to the east to the ancient caves and cathedrals of the Chateau de Cabrières a couple of km to the east of the "village". It's only 2-3 hours of walking time, but you'll need more time to explore along the way.