Town in Vaucluse (84)
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Population: 2,895 (Malaucéniens, Malaucéniennes)
Specialities: Ventoux wines, Ventoux cherries, fruit. Organic pomegranate juice, Ventoux black truffles...
Personalities: Pope Clement VII, François Pétrarque, Michel Galabru, Bertrand Minet, Myriam Boyer (actors), Marie Cardinal (novelist).
Sport: Ventoux climbs, skiing at Mont Serein, hiking. Events: La Sporta, ALS Tour, Ventoux Trial Classic.
Culture: Avignon festival extra-muros (shows in the church), Art and Painting in Malaucène, Festival "artist in the village", Organ Festival, Ventoux Retro Vehicle.
Economy: tourism, agriculture (fruit), Malaucène paper mills, market. Llama breeding.
Labels: land of Art and History / Patrimoine en Vaucluse for the Groseau chapel / "Small town of tomorrow" scheme.
Websites and social networks: www.malaucene.fr / www.ventouxprovence.fr / http://vaucluseprovence-attractivite.com / http://www.vaison-ventoux-tourisme.com / www.lacove.fr / www.vaucluse.fr / www.maregionsud.fr
MALAUCÈNE, A STORY
At the foot of the Ventoux
The Groseau chapel, nestled in a remarkable landscape at the foot of Mont Ventoux, remains the heart of a place that has been humanised for two millennia... The Groseau spring, which flows close to the chapel, was used and channelled by the Romans to supply water to Vaison-la-Romaine (Vasio) in the first century AD, thanks to a ten-kilometre-long aqueduct. Built between 1150 and 1200, the Notre-Dame du Groseau chapel is the only vestige of a former Benedictine monastery founded in the 7th century and now totally demolished. Pope Clement V, the first Pope of Avignon, made it his favourite place to stay during the summer months at the beginning of the 14th century. As an essential passageway to the Ventoux, the rehabilitation of the chapel (closed due to danger since 2018) is part of the revitalisation of the Groseau spring, to allow the reopening of the place and its development through exhibitions and concerts. (Appeal to popular patronage with the Fondation du Patrimoine and Bern mission underway).
Nature and heritage lovers will discover the first edition of an organ festival (listed organ in the church of Saint Michel) the week of July 12 to 17, 2021 with activities, concerts, visits to an organ builder... and small organ concerts every Wednesday during the summer season.
MALAUCÈNE AND CYCLING
Although Malaucène has never hosted the Grande Boucle, its proximity to the Ventoux means that the locality is well known to cyclists, since the ascent of the Giant of Provence is made from this town or from Bédoin, where the mythical ascent begins, or from Sault (the easiest route). It was via Malaucène that the Ventoux was climbed for the first time in the Tour de France in 1951 during the Montpellier-Avignon stage, won by Louison Bobet. Lucien Lazarides took the lead at the top and pocketed a 40-second bonus. This climb on the north side, considered less arduous than the one from Bédoin (the south climb), was only used again by the Tour in 1972, when Bernard Thévenet won it. In this 2020 edition, the Ventoux will be climbed twice, first via Sault and then via Bédoin before the descent to Malaucène. All three routes will be ridden, both uphill and downhill.
A former track and road rider from Gâtinais, Gabriel Viratelle took part in the 1934 Tour de France and settled in Vaucluse: he died there, in Malaucène, in 1971.
Chapel of Groseau
In 1853, the site was listed as a historical monument, which allowed for a complete exterior refurbishment of the building at the State's expense. Tourism then took over. The Groseau spring and the chapel became the two main points of local tourism, even before the opening of the Mont-Ventoux road in 1934, which opened up the site.
Abandoned and then dismantled stone by stone in the 18th century, the castle was replaced by three crosses. A path dotted with 13 oratories leads to the summit, now called the Calvary. Although Malaucène is not a hilltop village, it does have its own hill, in the heart of the old town. Between 2007 and 2009, in the niches created for this purpose in the 19th century, partist Luc Ta-Van-Thinh created a contemporary and original ceramic Way of the Cross.
A building of character, the Saint Michel church was listed as a historical monument in 1982. Its construction began at the end of the 13th century and is attributed to Pope Clement V. The Great Western Schism and the Wars of Religion left Provence in an unstable political and religious climate. This period of uncertainty had consequences for Malaucène, which fortified its church. In 1560, the main door was bricked up and a door on the north side was built.
The church was finally extended at the beginning of the 18th century. The nave was enlarged by a fifth bay and the choir with an ambulatory was built. At the end of the 18th century, the two roof slopes gave the church its final shape. This building preserves the principle of the single nave churches, with broken cradle, common in Provence.
Labelled as a Natura 2000 site, the Toulourenc, a small river fed by the Mont Ventoux, rises at the foot of the Château d'Aulan near Montbrun-les-Bains and meanders for about thirty kilometres before flowing into the Ouvèze. Winding its way down the mountain, it has carved deep gorges in the rock of its bed, upstream and downstream of the hamlet of Veaux, sometimes reaching 100 metres. The downstream gorge called Estrechon (because of its narrowness) is only 1.50 metres wide in places and is 3 kilometres long, from Notre Dame des Anges to Veaux.
With nearly 4,000 hectares planted, and an annual harvest of 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes, Vaucluse remains France's leading producer of cherries. The Ventoux region has become the preferred area for table cherries, with 1,144 hectares, i.e. 55 pc of the area planted in Vaucluse. The cherry season begins in mid-May and, thanks to the diversity of varieties, lasts until mid-July. Batches of freshly picked fruit are sent to the distribution network and are available on the consumer's table the day after picking. Created by a group of producers, the Monts de Venasque cherry, juicy, fleshy and crunchy, is the first top-of-the-range cherry brand in France. Cultivated in 21 communes in the Comtat Venaissin and Mont Ventoux by 110 producers, it is distinguished by the care taken in the orchards, the pruning techniques and the selection of the fruit. 2,000 tonnes of this red diamond, with a minimum size of 24 mm, are sold each year.