Ansouis has been listed as « Most beautiful villages in France » since June 1999.
Let chance guide your way through alleys and cobbled streets, you will be enchanted by this Provençal decor. The richness of its heritage gives way to culture with its two museums, of unexpected themes, as well as its furnished and inhabited castle! Take time to stroll to the shop of Santon, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (a reward for France best craftman), and discover its art. The inhabitants are called «Ansouisiens»
Here people pronounce the "s" at the end : Ansouis
Filmed here some scenes of : «Jean de Florette» and «Manon des sources» by Claude Berri (1986). (The sermon, Christmas Mass, Wedding day.) The outdoors scenes were shot in Vaugines, 7km from Ansouis.
Don’t forget the local market every sunday mornings in front of the tourist office (all year round)
1. The Castle - www.chateauansouis.fr
Built on a rocky peak in the Aigues Valley, Ansouis was a strategic observation post on the way to Haut-Provence. The castle was initially a Celto-Ligurian fortress. In the middle Ages it became a vast quadrilateral edifice with four towers surrounding a central dungeon and an impressive fortification system which still exists today. Ansouis then belonged to the important Forcalquier family. They ruled over Ansouis until 1178 at which time this stronghold became part of the Sabran family domain when Rainon 1st de Sabran married Garsande, Countess of Forcalquier. Elzéar de Sabran was born in 1285. When Elzéar was 14 years old Charles II of Sicily married him to Delphine de Signe, a rich heiress and last descendant of the Vicomtes de Marseille. At a very young age Delphine had vowed to live as a recluse. The young couple devoted their lives to serving God while continuing to fulfil their seigniorial duties. This peaceful period was followed by a long period of unrest which Ansouis was unable to escape. It was only in the XVII century that peace returned to Provence and that the Castle was transformed into a stately residence with its beautiful south-facing facade.
Of the early architecture only the guard room, the St Elzéar room, the kitchen, the chapel, the prison adjoining the dungeon and the “Puit de Miracle” remain. Unoccupied throughout most of the XIX century the castle fell into total disrepair. The Duke and Duchess of Sabran-Pontevès returned to the castle in 1936 and devoted the rest of their lives to restoring it to its former splendour. In 2008 M. and Mme Rousset-Rouvière became the new owners and are continuing this restoration work whilst welcoming visitors.
2 The Church of Saint Martin
This historical monument, originally a 12th century fortress was the former law court for the castle. Built on the battlements of a medieval fortress it contains 18th century statues and altar pieces.
3 Panoramic view
From the battlement wall enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the Luberon stretching from Lourmarin to Cucuron and from Villelaure over the Durance.
4 The House of the Consuls
Built in the XIII and XIV centuries this building was home to the village council in the XV and XVI centuries. The lower section provided storage for cereals, an oven and stalls for fish and meat to enable the villagers to survive when under siege. In the cellars two underground tunnels connected to the castle also helped to supply the village when needed.
5 The Main Gate
The wrought iron cross dating from 1951 is the only reminder of the former gateway. The current stairway is a modern construction, built on the west of the west of the former one.
6 The Small Gates
The only gate still in existence (there used to be 3 gates).
7 The Royal Tubet
The inscription on the façade of this building indicates that it may have been a place of entertainment in the XVII century.
8 The Belfry
Dating back to 1540 this building was the meeting place for the village council. It later became the town hall and housed the communal oven. The belfry and wrought iron campanile with the village clock were probably erected towards the end of the XVIII century.
9 The Battlements
Only parts of the south facing battlements remain. Probably built at the beginning of the XIII century these battlements had only one tower located at the main gates to the castle. New fortifications were built in the XIV century and included the triangular bastion.
Daniel GALLI produces the santons or clay figurines which feature in Provencal Nativity scenes. Tel: 04 90 09 87 54
11 The « Place des Hôtes »
This small square, where you can find the village shops, is typical of Luberon villages. The café terrace is an ideal place to relax on a hot summer day.
12 The « Place Saint Elzear »
Named after Elzear de Sabran, who was born in the Luberon in 1285 and married to Dephine de Signe who was destined for a religious life. They lived a chaste and virtuous existence and were later canonised, an event celebrated in Ansouis every September.
13 Shops and amenities
Bakerie, Tabacco Press, Bar, Restaurant, Post Office, groceries…
14 Extraordinary Museum of Georges Mazoyer
Welcome in a Provençal house. This museum was created by Georges Mazoyer, artist and scuba diver. You go into a succession of arches that form a medieval gem to many wonders: fish, shells, corals, combined with happiness to witness our prehistoric time: Fossil of the Luberon. This museum will surprise you with its rich collections representing forty years of passion and dives around the world. A passion that inspired and influenced all artistic work of Georges Mazoyer you will enjoy the unique creations of their kind: paintings, ceramics, stained glass windows.
15 Art and Wine Museum in « Château Turcan » www.chateau-turcan.com
3000 objects deployed over an area of 1300 m2. Discover the process of working in a vineyard, through the cooperage and glassware. Collection of art glass (bottles, flasks, decanters and glasses), as well as masterpieces of fellow initiates the work of wood and metal objects applied to the vine and wine.
16 L’Art Glacier www.artglacier.com
Traditional family business for making ice creams, sorbets and frozen desserts. More than 50 classic or provençal flavors. Beautiful lookout on Ansouis.
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