LA PROVENCE Time travel at the Chateau of Avignon

Imagine an immense château surrounded by 21 hectares of greenery, between Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Arles, right in the heart of the Camargue. Welcome to the Château d’Avignon, a property owned by the Bouches-du-Rhône area council where tradition and modernity join hands.

In 1893, Louis Prat-Noilly, a wealthy wine merchant from Marseille acquired the château that was built in the 18th century by the Avignon family. He totally transformed the residence, to make it as comfortable as possible with the latest technical innovations. Just follow your guide as he takes you on a time travel back to the 19th century and discover a technological, artistic, environmental and human project as designed by its pioneering owner.

The conversion work imagined by the owner is witness to his innovative thinking in a fast-changing society. He called upon the services of the renowned architect from Arles, Auguste Véran, for the interior fittings, the woodwork, doors and windows and also all the furniture. The former residence was converted into a modern and luxuriously decorated hunting lodge to perfectly reflect the lifestyle of the bourgeois at the time. The fittings included the very latest equipment in terms of hygiene and comfort, all in a sumptuous decor. Today, the château is the ideal way to get a glimpse of how life was for some back in the 19th century.

Mastering water for irrigation purposes and the desalination of the land was a fundamental issue for the enhancement and exploitation of the Camargue. The configuration of the departmental estate, backing on to the Petit Rhône, is a perfect example. Louis Prat-Noilly designed a complete hydraulic network that included a pump house, settling tanks, a water tower and a dynamo-electric machine. From the river, the water is channelled, purified and distributed by the machines, basins, canals and pipes.

A château definitely worth visiting from April 20th through to October 2nd for lovers of history and technology. A date worth noting, June 18-19, 2022 is the European Archaeology Days, a time to unravel the mysteries of some of the region’s most emblematic sites.