Salon-de-Provence Tourist Attractions
Chateau de l'EmperiSalon-de-Provence is situated on the edge of the Plaine de la Crau, north of the Etang de Berre and northwest of Marseilles.Once on this site, on the Hill of Valdemech, stood the Roman Castrum Salonense. The present-day town had its origins in the time of Charlemagne, after the salt-marshes were drained. Salon was the native town of Adam de Craponne, who in 1554 built the canal named after him linking the lower Durance to the Crau and thereby laying the cornerstone of the drainage and canal system between the Durance, the Rhône and the Etang de Berre. Nostradamus, who lived in Salon between 1547 and 1566 and here composed his "Centuries astrologiques", is buried in the Church of St Laurent.
Château de l'Empéri
From its central position, the 170m/558ft long fortress Château de l'Empéri dominates the town of Salon-de-Provence. Built by the Archbishops of Arles between the 12th and 15th C., it is one of the best preserved and largest fortifications in Provence. The present site in essence goes back to Archbishop Jean des Baux (1233-1258). The name "Emperor's Castle" stems from the fact that Salon had fallen to the German emperors in 1032 with the rest of the kingdom of Provence and actually become part of the Empire. Of note is the beautiful Chapel of Ste-Cathérine (12th C.).
Musée de l'Empéri
The Musée de l'Empéri is housed in the Château de l'Empéri. It traces the history of French weaponry from the time of Louis XIV to the end of the World War I and includes uniforms, equipment, firearms, swords, etc.
East of Château de l'Empéri in the Rue St-Michel in Salon-de-Provence stands the 13th C. Church of St-Michel with its characteristic two-storyed bell-wall with five apertures. The Romanesque doorway has an unusual tympanum, which is made up of relief panels; in the middle at the top is the Archangel Michael, patron of the church, with two snakes (devil), and underneath a lamb with the cross, a symbol of the risen Christ. The other sections show stylized floral ornaments based on ancient models.A short distance to the east the visitor passes through the Porte Bourg-Neuf, the remains of the town fortification from the 13th C., which had to make way for the ring of boulevards which now surrounds the town. To the right stands the fountain with the statue of Adam de Craponne and the attractive town hall, built in 1655-1658.
Maison de Nostradamus
In the former house of the cosmologist Nostradamus (Michel de Nostre-Dame, 1503-1566) - he spent the last 19 years of his life here - the noteworthy Nostradamus Museum in Salon-de-Provence is housed (2, rue Nostradamus). It includes historical editions of his prophecies, mementos and a reproduction of his study.
Address: Rue Nostradamus (centre ancien), F-13300 Salon-de-Provence, France
The town gate Porte D'Horloge in Salon-de-Provence (dating from the middle of the 17th C. the bishop's arms over the gateway) leads to the Place Crousillat with its completely moss-covered fountain.
To the north of Salon-de-Provence town center, on the Square St-Laurent, stands the Dominican church St-Laurent (14th/15th C.), which in its total simplicity is an outstanding example of the Provençal Gothic style. Inside there is an alabaster statue of the Madonna (16th C.), a stone relief of the Descent from the Cross (15th/16th C.) and the tomb of Nostradamus which in its present form is a modern work.
La Barben, France
The little village of La Barben is charmingly situated in the Valley of the Touloubre 8km/5mi east of Salon. About 1km/.5mi from the village stands the Château La Barben on a steep rocky height. It is surrounded by beautiful parkland with an animal compound and an aquarium.
Château de la Barben
Château de la Barben is a medieval fortress that rises up over the River Touloubre. A garden is laid out to the south of the house on a long terrace that leads down to the river.The grand terrace of Château de la Barben offers a splendid view that stretches beyond Salon de Provence and the Étang de Berre.The interior of the chateau has sixty rooms of varying architectural styles as well as a chapel, guardrooms, spiral staircases, fireplaces and subterranean passages.
Address: Route du château, F-13330 La Barben, France
The picturesque village of Cornillon Confoux (Appellation Contrôlée), lies on a spur from which there is a fine view of the Etang de Berre. Of interest are the 17th C. castle and the 12th C. church.
St Chamas, France
The little fishing and yachting port of St-Chamas lies some 3km/2mi southwest of Cornillon- Confoux on the Etang de Berre. The village is separated from the water by a narrow mountain ridge, on top of which runs a canal. There is an aqueduct with a clock tower where the canal crosses a gap in the sea barrier. Well worth seeing are the prehistoric dwelling-caves, the single-arched Pont Flavien (a bridge over the Touloubre, to the west of the village, with triumphal arches as gateways, dating from the A.D. first century) and the 17th C. church with its Baroque facade.
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