on the south bank of the river Durance, on the outskirts of Avignon
This property, at the confluence of the Rhone and Durance rivers, is but a few minutes from the famous town of Avignon and its TGV train station, some 20 minutes from a motorway slip road and just under an hour from Marseille-Provence airport. The region experienced numerous invasions of the Celts, the Romans and the Saracens. Settled on one of the slopes of a hill known as “Montagnette”, the village, home to the convent, recounts its history through its streets which were once visited by such illustrious characters as François 1st, Richelieu and Louis XVI. The fortifications of the old village, a tower, vestige of an old episcopal castle, a 12th century Romanesque church as well as the house, with its Renaissance facade, that once belonged to a knight of the Order of Malta, all bear witness to a prestigious past.
This edifice, dating from the late 17th century, was restored in 1730 by the barefoot Franciscan monks, whose order was founded in Italy in 1363. The L-shaped convent spans two levels. The facade features semi-circular arched windows, protected by defensive bars, on the ground floor and more sober windows on the first floor. It is constructed from rendered quarry stone blocks. The building, awaiting full restoration works, was home to a school and then a variety of craft and commercial activities.
An entrance door opening off the street, still with its stone surround and capital, acts as the main entrance. The facade also features another, more sober door. An ambulatory, featuring numerous windows that once opened on to the old cloister, leads to two large rooms, now transformed into warehouses. The other rooms house machine rooms, accommodation for a caretaker and workshops.
This level is reached via two diametrically opposed stairways. The first spiral stairway, with old stone treads, is in a very good state of repair. The second, dual flight stairway, bordered with sober ironwork railings, once connected the chapel to the convent’s dining hall on the ground floor. This level comprises eight extremely luminous bedrooms, some of which have fireplaces. The floors are paved with Arles stone. The bedrooms on the facade side have a view of the neighbouring chateau’s parklands, the others provide a glimpse of the chateau. A series of shower cubicles complete this level.
Dating from the same era as the convent, this chapel was also constructed by the same barefoot Franciscan monks. It was built on the ruins of one of the region’s oldest religious edifices.
Its apse is in a relatively good state of repair and its 15 m long nave is bordered on each side by three divided aisles, each topped with a crossed-ribbed vault. The coats-of-arms sculpted on its keystone are, most probably, those of the “Ordre des Pères de l'Observance” as the barefoot Franciscan monks were known.
A floor was recently installed, forming an upstairs over two-thirds of the edifice. It could easily be removed to restore the chapel to its original dimensions.
The old convent and its chapel, the outside and inside walls of which bear the marks of history, were used as a school for several decades, before more recently being used for packing the fruit and vegetables, grown locally in abundance. The edifice and its chapel, facades facing the village chateau and its wooded parklands, await the enthusiasts who will enhance the stately architectural features that are still standing and breathe new life into them. Ideally located near to some of the most beautiful villages in the Alpilles mountains, this edifice can but inspire artistic spirits. It could also appeal to an architect, seeking to transform the neglected chapel and its forgotten convent into an outstanding residence.
|Land registry surface area||2000 m2|
|Main building surface area||450 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||450 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||9|
Roger Pertuisot +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.