Surrounded by the Mediterranean forest and the bluish mountains of the Luberon, in the middle of which the Durance River runs, La Roque d’Anthéron benefits from a unique location : it is a Provencal village in the heart of an amazing natural site, 25 km away from Aix-en-Provence.
Its past eventful and its landscape still carries the many marks of it (monuments, tourist sites...). Its historical buildings, among which is the famous Silvacane Abbey, invite you to on an historical journey to the past.
The Waldensians were members of a Christian sect founded in Lyon, France in 1179 by the rich salesman, Pierre Waldo (Valdes). He distributed his goods to the poor and decided to preach the values of poverty, work, and the Gospel. Gradually, disciples followed him to the South, the Alps, to Italy…They refused the sacraments and the cult of Saints, and they established their own clergy. The Waldensians were excommunicated (excluded from a religious community) in 1184 and as a result became a widespread community. Rejected by the feudal government and the Church, they became a spread out community.
At the end of the XVth Century in the Luberon, they were joined by the immigrants coming from the Italian Piemont and from the French Dauphiné fleeing persecutions and economic turmoil. They were among the first to repopulate the village of La Roque d’Anthéron; the lords of Forbin signed the first acts of dwelling with 70 Valdesian families in 1514. They joined the Reform in 1532. But in the XVIth Century, the Parliament of Provence launched a tremendous inquisition, carried out by the baron Meynier d'Oppède; many villages were burned completely destroying the Waldensians in France in 1545.
After many persecutions, some of the Waldensians abjured, others sought refuge in Switzerland, in Italy, in Germany, in South Africa or America.
A few of them landed in Darién (between Colombia and Panamá). This meeting of two minority cultures and two threatened populations gave place to a fusion mixing their respective clothing and artistic practices. The “Molas” are superb resultants of this melting pot. Today the Cuna Indians continue this astonishing technique. A hundred of these works are visible in la Roque d’ Anthéron. The mola is appreciated like a true painting, a masterpiece, but it also conceals many elements echoing the Amerindian and Christian traditions.
This collection, which continues to grow rich each year and which has been displayed in the large capitals of the world, is presented today in La Roque Anthéron
> Discover the new museum
La Roque d’Antheron is a Waldensian daughter of the Luberon and belongs to an historical trail that started in Lyon in the Xllth Century and is still running around the world (Route des Vaudois or Waldensian Trail)
Many sites in the village and in its neighbourhood testify of the presence of the Valdesian community: Silvacane abbey, the Temple (even if no one to this day knows where is the site of the first temple built in 1560 )...
As you have a walk in the old village, following the steps of these former Waldensian colonists, you will find the traces they left 450 years ago while discovering the stages of the trail of the Luberon temples(tourist route running from the left side of the Durance to fertile Luberon). Along the villages of the trail, each Temple has on its frontage an original work testifying of this page of an astonishing History.
On the Temple of La Roque is written the history of the Protestants. Inside, one can read the names of the 50 Valdesian families who set up in our village in 1521.
Know more about the Waldensian history of La Roque d'Antheron: download our booklet now available in english!
> A Waldensian and Protestant village
The Chapel of Sainte Anne de Goiron:
Just 10 minutes from the Abbey, the Chapel of Sainte Anne (11th century) overlooks the Durance Valley and the whole of the Luberon Mountain, facing the rising sun. It was built on an old pagan site close to a cave settlement, and bears witness to the fact that the Cistercians were not the first monks in La Roque d'Anthéron.
The chapel is of Roman architectural style and is surrounded by a rupestral cemetry. The domed recess of the chapel where the alter stands is located behind the central area of the church. Both side chapels were added during more recent periods as were the gothic vaults, and it's harmonious proportions render it considerably elegant. Further more, a monument perpetuates the memory of local resistants.
The Florans Castle (16th Century & Renaissance):
The Marquises of Florans were the last to have occupied this castle (now used as a dietary centre). Its park contains 365 Plane trees, majestic Sequoias and resounds with piano music every summer during the famous International Festival.’ This castle was built by Annibal de Forbin in 1598, a well known family of Provence, and it is thanks to Palamède, the most famous member of the Forbin family, that the Provence is French.
The castle features the phrase that Louis XI said to Palamède de Forbin, "You made me Count, I make you King." Before this, King René reigned over the kingdom of Provence, and his dying wish to attach the kingdom of Provence to the Monarchy of France was made to his counselor, Palamède de Forbin. One year later when his wish was realized by Palamède, Louis XI reigned over France and the newly attached Provence under the condition that he would be considered the Count of Provence, not king. In exchange, Palamède de Forbin was named "Vice-King" of Provence, hence the phrase found upon the castle.
The castle can not be visited, but on its Renaissance style facade one can read: " te domine sper avi non confundar in aeternum ".
A memorial to the Waldesian population :
Located in the center of the old village, the memorial is currently renovated and will soon be opened to the public in the coming few months.
> Questions can be directed to the Tourist Office : 04 42 50 70 74.
Take a stroll in the village and its surroundings…
Discover the long Apié (bee wall), see the "Poilu", work of the sculptor Henri de Groux (whose work can also be seen in the Palace of Roure in Avignon), sip a drink under the Plane trees of the charming square of the old city hall…
Discover the old village, its alleys and its traditional Valdesian houses...
>> Interested in our village history? Curious to discover the wonders of the region? Download our excursions booklets now available in english!
> The trail of castles
> A Waldensian and Protestant village
> Following the water canals
The monks of the Morimond Abbey, in the early XIIth century, built this famous abbey reknown for its sobriety and the perfection of its architecture. Its name comes from its surroundings, swamps and canes forest (silva/cana). Guillaume de la Roque gives some land and some landlords make donations. Bertrand des Baux begins building the church in 1175.During this century, the abbey have a a great spiritual and economic growth and founds the sister abbey of Valsainte, close to Apt. Its decline begins late in the XIIIth century (conflict with Montmajour abbey, natural catastrophes, 100 years war...). During the french revolution, it becomes a farm. The french state buys the church in 1845 to refurbish it. In 1945, the state buys the whole abbey and declares it a historical monument.
The Abbey is attached to the city of La Roque d'Anthéron since January 1st 2008.
The Abbey is a member of the European Chart for Cistercian Abbeys and Sites, 150 members in 10 Countries, All owners have their sites opened to public, in a spirit of cultural quality.