Bouches-du-Rhône (13160) Population: 15,934 Altitude: 43 m
Châteaurenard is a small town just south of Avignon, with a feudal castle standing guard above. The town center has some cobblestone streets, wide sidewalks, terrace café-restaurants and shady plane trees. Market day Sun.
The town is big enough for a good selection of dining and shopping, but it's primarily a residential town and a commercial market-town for the rich Durance valley. Beyond found it a nice enough place for a visit and some exploring, but wouldn't make it a special destination.
There are a fair number of terrace cafés, always a good sign, but none really stood out. We weren't really impressed with the selection of shops in the town center either, and think that you probably have to get to know Châteaurenard a little better to appreciate it more.
A walk up to the castle at the top of the hill (see below) gives you a great view out across the wide, flat countryside of the Durance valley, with Mont Ventoux clearly visible out to the northeast. There's a playground at the top of the hill, and a "buvette" café.
The remains of the castle of Châteaurenard include two tall towers marking the location of the town from a distance. Dated from the 13th and 15th centuries, its final ruin came at the end of the 18th century with the Revolution.
A walk from the town up to the chateau takes about 15 minutes. The most direct route has a lot of steps [Photo-07], but these can be avoided by following a more zig-zag path streets that will take you on a stepless route to the top.
Steam Train Val de Provence
The Chemin de Fer du Val de Provence runs a period steam train between the towns of Barbentane, Châteaurenard and Noves, between the Rhône and the Durance, just south of Avignon. The line was opened in 1884 by the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer des Bouches du Rhône. The current service runs at reduced speed. Note: the service now runs from April to Nov (Easter to All Saints day), but the steam locomotive might only be in the summer months.
April-May (from Easter): Sunday
June: Sun, Wed
July: Sun, Wed, 14th, last two Fridays
Sept: Sun, first two Wednesdays
Nov: All Saints day
Cost: 6 euros
Tel: 0698 165 533
History of Châteaurenard
First record, 10th century Castellum Rainardi
Prehistoric: The site of Châteaurenard was occupied in 2000 - 1800 BC. The discovery of a copper arrowhead points to habitation during the Chalcolithic Period, an era of grain farming and raising sheep.
Gallo-Roman: The Rhône and the Durance were both routes follThe Rhône and the Durance were both routes followed by the Romans penetrating inland from the Mediterranean at Marseille. Most of the Roman artifacts of Châteaurenard have been found in the Vigneret area. Remains have included Roman funeral inscriptons.
Medieval: Barbarian invasions of the 5th century sacked the region thouroughly enough that no important vestiges of the previous period remain.
The town was ruled by the lords of Châteaurenard (a family name) until the 12th century. It passed into the control of the Counts of Provence from 1218 to 1348, then by mariage to the Pontevès. the Beauvau took control in the 15th c, and the Almar in the 17th.
The castle was sacked by La Valette's troups in 1589, and "dismantled" by Heny IV in 1596. It carried on for another 300 years and was finally destroyed in 1792 during the French Revolution; two of the four towers remain.
(See the Châteaurenard Castle page for more history.)
Market day: Sun.
June (Last weekend) - Medieval festival in the castle
July (14th) - Ancient market and old trades (vieux métiers)
July (1st weekend) - Fete Saint Eloi (4 days), with Charrette of draft horses in galloping procession
Aug - Fete de la Madeleine (4 days)
Sep (Mid) - Fete de la St Omer (4 days)
Nov (1st) - Foire - Autumn Fair
• GPS: 43.881959, 4.85536
IGN (1/25,000) #3041 OT "Avignon"
Agrarian Tools Museum - Musée des Outils agraires
Location: 31 bis Rue Jentelin - in the old town
Open: 1 May - 30 Sept, Tue=Sat, 10-12h, 14h30-18h30.
Closed: Sun, Mon
Entry: 2 euros; 5 euros for Benoit XIII and Agrairen Tools museums. (2007)
Tel: 0490 901 159
Benoit XIII Museum
This museum is about the history of the castle, including its most famous resident: Benedict (Benoît) XIII, the last Pope of Avignon.
Location: In the castle above Châteaurenard.
Open: 1 May - 30 Sept, Tue=Sat, 10-12h, 14h30-18h30.
Entry: 4 euros; 5 euros for Benoit XIII and Agrairen Tools museums. (2007)
Line 57A runs daily between Saint Rémy-de-Provence and Avignon, with stops in Eyragues, Chateaurenard and Rognonas.
Avignon, St-Remy-de-Provence Bus
- Line 57 (of the Bouches-du-Rhône bus company LePilot) connects Avignon with St-Rémy-de-Provence, via Rognonas, Châteaurenard and Eyragues. There are a dozen buses a day between Avignon and St-Rémy. The trip takes about 46 minutes.
Bus line schedules for the Bouches-du-Rhone department are available from the www.lepilot.com website, section Les Réseau - CARTREIZE, subsection Infos/Téléchargement. Click on Fiches-horaires du réseau CARREIZE for a linked list of the bus lines (http://www.lepilote.com/presentation/?rub_code=1010&thm_id=11705&gpl_id=&part_id=10)
- click on Line 57 for the schedule (PDF file). [http://www.lepilote.com/ftp/FR_documents/FH0057.pdf]
Department 13, Bouches-du-Rhône Buses
- See Beyond's Bouches-du-Rhone (13) Bus Schedules for downloading Bouches-du-Rhone bus-lines map and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).