Bouches-du-Rhône (13370) Population: 6,208 Altitude: 1111 m
Mallemort is a small town beside the Durance river, somewhat spread out but with a Medieval old town. Many of the houses in the center of Mallemort remind us of typical old French farm houses, giving this town a real village flavor. Market day Fri.
The Mallemort town-center is a large, open area, with a large parking space and low surrounding buildings. There are three village cafés here, and four bakeries — high-priority places for our village visits in Provence.
We explored the old village, walking up a long narrow street that crossed the hill at the site of the church and the chateau. There aren't many cross streets, so village street exploring isn't as fun as in many villages; the best method is to cross the old village from end to end, including a visit to the castle ruins at the top, then return the way you came.
There's a good view out across the countryside from the chateau ruins on the hilltop, across the Durance to the Luberon mountains just to the north. The 12th-century castle is mostly gone; only part of the massif keep remains.
The old suspension bridge at Mallemort was built across the Durance in 1844-1848, by order of King Louis Philippe (Kings). The old bridge was destroyed the first time by a flood in 1872, then by the floods of 1880, 1882 and 1886. It was again badly damaged in 1940 by German bombs. Although replaced by the modern arched bridge just beside, the old suspension bridge is still intact today, and is the last of this type across the Durance. At other crossing places over the Durance, you can still see the old suspension towers off to the side of the new bridges.
The Saint Michel church in Mallemort was rebuilt in 1751-1756, then restored in the beginning of the 19th century. A tall defensive tower and bell tower are combined, with a steep pyramidal roof. We quite liked the 'devilish' sort of weather vane at the top.
There are three cafés in Mallemort, all on or near the main central square, close to the Office de Tourisme. We had our afternoon café break in the Cercle des Amis Réunis, with large windows and very friendly staff and clients. We noticed carpet squares for table-top card playing, and then discovered a "private club" sign on the window after we departed. Going back in to question the lady tending bar, we learned that this really is a private club, founded in 1834, but that they welcome outsiders. It was pleasant and picturesqe.
History of Mallemort
First record, 1092 Castro Malemortis; 12th-c Malamors
The etymology of Mallemort is from mal (bad) and mort (death). This region became a marshland, destroying agriculture and causes sickness. The marshes were eventually dried out and life resumed.
Gallo-Roman: A Gallo-Roman necropolis and furnishings were discovered at Mallemort.
Medieval: First mentioned in the 12th century, Mallemort was ruled by the Bishops of Marseille from the 13th century until the French Revolution.
Renaissance In 14545, a persecution was organized against the Vaudois. The troups of Paulin de La Garde pillaged the village. Lands were confiscated, men massacred and the women raped then killed. [If only our world was different today. ]
• GPS: 43.731206, 5.180742
IGN (1/25,000) #3143 OT "Salon-de-Provence, Miramas"
There aren't any good local hikes directly from Mallemort, although the GR6 Hiking Trail does pass through the center of town.
To the north, the GR6 crosses the new bridge, then follows small roads to Mérindol. North of Mérindol the GR6 crosses the Luberon mountains (704 m) to Oppede le Vieux, then northwest to Robion.
Southbound, the GR6 departs Mallemort from the southeast corner, passes around to the south of Alleins before heading west and northwest across the Alpilles on its way to St Remy-de-Provence.
Charleval - Mallemort - Salon Bus
- There are several buses a day between Charleval and Salon-de-Provence, going thorough the towns of Charleval, Mallemort, Alleins, Lamaron and Salon-de-Provence.
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).