Bouches-du-Rhône (13630) Population: 4,178 Altitude: 23 m
A very Provencal little town with an active center, picturesque buildings in the old quarter, a culture of horses and bull events, and a good Friday market. Market day Fri.
The streets of the old town have a number of interesting sights, and the overall impression is pleasant and colorful. There are a few ancient doorways, and many of the houses have been nicely decorated with Provencal pastel colors and trim.
The Office de Tourisme has a map of the town (plan de ville) that includes a nice walking tour that points out the sights. The tourist office is in a lovely building in its own right, beside the main square, Place de la Libération, and includes the town's library.
The Saint-Maxime church in the center of town has its origins in the 11th or 12th centuy, although there are several more recent additions. The tall, pointed clock-tower is 17th century, and two Romanesque chapels form a false transept.
Another old chapel, the Chapelle du Pieux Zèle (originally named Notre-Dame de la Pucelle) is located a 10-minute walk (800 m) southwest of the center, via Chemin de Notre Dame. This chapel was built in the 11th century as a hermitage, but the existing structure is the result of 17th and 19th century enlargements. Gallo-Roman tombs were discovered nearby.
The village of Eyragues was fortified in the 13th century, and eventually surrounded by a wall and a moat. This drawing (from a Tourist Office document) shows the walls as they were in 1638. Part of the original ramparts can still be seen, mostly around the north side.
The northeast entry portal, called Portail du Moulin, still has parts of the wall and part of one tower remaining.
Mills of Eyragues
There were several mills around Eyragues as far back as the 14th century. The mill located at the northeast edge of the village, beside the fortified entry, was called Moulin de Conil, or more recently, Moulin de la Porte. This mill burnt down in 1881, and is currently be rebuilt (seemingly quite modern,a nd we're not sure as what). This waterwheel is located across the street in front of the mill.
Taureau à la Corde
The Passing of a Tradition. The oldest of all the bull events (jeux taurins) is called taureau à la corde or, torro on the rope. It's also known as taureau à la bourgine, with bourgine being the Provençal work for rope. And, locally, it was called Encierro à l'Eyraguaise.
This has been an annual tradition in Eyragues for 150 years, and is now finished, as of 2015. The idea is that a rather ferocious black bull of the Camarge has a long rope attached around its horns and is led (or leads) the villagers through the streets, with spectators watching, participating or trying to keep out of its way.
The rope method has been considered for many years to be cruel to the animal, and somewhat dangerous for the specators. The taureau à la corde has been progressively and officially illegal since the1970s, but has continued in Eyragues until now. However, a final and definitive law has been passed and is being enforced, so this year (2015) is the first year the town is without its tradition.
History of Eyragues
First record, 1094 Paludis de Ayraga
Gallo-Roman: Gallo-Roman artifacts have been discovered at different places around the commune, not surprising what with the large Roman town and crossroads of Glanum are located only 8 km south of Eyragues.
• GPS: 43.841044, 4.841970
The land about Eyragues is the fertile river-lands between the Rhône and the Durance, with many small streams and canals, and filled with agriculture: orchards, giant greenhouses and fields.
There are interesting hikes, though, including loop hikes and some to nearby villages or along the rivers. The Office de Tourisme has some excellent brochures for each of these hikes.
We found some decent places to eat: La Tanière restaurant (evenings?), Pizza Lou Sant Jan and Café du Commerce. The real jewel, though, is the Brasserie L'Abrivado, with a Marmite Pecheur that's all home-made, natural, copious and incredibly delicious. When we praised it, La Patronne said "I know. Regulars even come from Martigues and Marseilles." L'Abrivado serves lunch every day, but market-day Friday is the Marmite, worth the trip here even more than the market.
A standard menu was 15 euros. The Marmite Pecheur, 18 euros. A large salad with lean smoked ham and fresh spinach tartlettes, only 10 euros.
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).