Mevouillon, Baronnies - Secret Provence
We offer both guided and independent walking holidays in the Baronnies, a secluded and relatively little known corner of Provence at the foothills of the French Alps. Whether you're enjoying a drink and relaxing at La Honas guest house or out walking, you can't fail to notice the distinct rocky promontory of Mévouillon raised above the surrounding lavender fields and guarded by sheer cliffs. Known as Mevouillon this plateau played an important role in the history of the Baronnies. It is also a popular spot today with paragliders and climbers.
Today Mevouillon is a tiny village of 215 inhabitants, consisting of four hamlets - Gresse, Le Col, La Farette and Pelleret. Within this mosaic of dwellings lies the impressive plateau at 1,108m in altitude where one of the most important forts in the area was situated. You can do a circular walk around this rocky plateau on both our self guided walking holiday - Secret Provence: Tour of Baronnies and our guided walking holiday - Secret Provence: Les Baronnies.
This rocky mountain forms the junction between two river systems one draining to the east into the Durance, with the other leading to the Charuis and then the Rhone to the west. These limestone mountains are aligned west-east, like most of the hills and mountains in Provence, which differs from those of the Pre-Alps in France further north which are aligned north-south. This is because they were created at different times. The limestone which was deposited in a part of a former ocean known as the Vocontian Trench in the secondary era, was uplifted and folded from about 40 million years ago, when the Iberian plate pushed into France.
The rocky promontory of the Fort is a natural fortification with cliffs on three sides and steep slopes on the other. It has been continuously occupied from pre-historic times up to the 17th century. It was the site of a great castle belonging to the Mevouillon Lords whose family ruled over much of the Baronnies region of Provence for about 300 years. More detail about the history of this part of Provence can be found on our page on the Baronnies. The fort was fully demolished at the end of the 17th century.
The oldest dwellings that can be seen in the hamlets of Mevouillon date from the 16th century and are made from stone from the fort. There are many religious buildings scattered throughout the countryside. The oldest church is the church of the hamlet of Pelleret. Many others surrounded the fort, the tower of the old church of La Ferette dominating its cemetery. A few hundred metres to the south, St Bernadette's chapel has a bell which comes from the old church of the fort. Many of the hamlets also retain their own wash houses.
Today the main activity in this rural part of the Baronnies is agriculture with the cultivation of Lavender and the hybrid Lavandin, which creates a beautiful and scented landscape towards the end of June, when we run our guided walking holiday to coincide with the vivid purple lavender flowers. The lavender is transformed into bouquets and dried flowers or distilled for essential oils. Other important forms of agriculture in the area include crops of small spelt, forestry, fruit trees and grazing for sheep and goats. Despite being very quiet compared to other honey pot locations in the Provence, the Baronnies is also becoming important for tourism, especially related to lavender, outdoor activities such as walking holidays, cycling and paragliding, as well as thermal spa holidays at Montbrun les Bains.