Notre-Dame de Benva Chapel
This lovely little chapel sits in the woods beside the D50 road a couple of km west of Lorgues. The simple two-story building has a large covered porch with 16th-century frescos.
The chapel, called Notre-Dame de Ben Va and Notre-Dame de Benva. Earlier it was called Notre-Dame des Salettes, after the hamlet just 500 m to the northwest. The name Ben Va probably comes from the provençal "Ben Vaï", meaning "bon voyage". Thus the chapel is the Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage, a meaningful statement for Medieval pilgrims heading west from Lorgues.Earlier, too, the road passed directly through the porch of the chapel.
The Notre-Dame de Benva chapel dates from at least the 15th century, and possibly even earlier, from the time of the Templars.
The Medieval frescos covering the interior of the porch were probably done at the beginning of the 16th century, and probably by an Italian, or at least influenced by the Italian Alpine area. The variety of colors used in the frescos indicates a serious budget was invested in the work.
The frescos have been seriously damaged over the centuries. They've been partially restored during the 20th century, but still only about half of them remain. Details of the frescos are given in the two websites listed as our partial sources, below.
- http://www.merveilles-du-var.net and http://lorgues.free.fr/benva1.html