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Ventabren

Pays d’Aix, Bouches-du-Rhône

43.538889,5.293056
43°32'20"N 5°17'35"E
Published: April 2010
last updated: March 2011
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The visit

Aquaduc de Requefavour The main attraction of Ventabren is certainly aqueduc de Roquefavour - the biggest stone aqueduct of the world. Its form is inspired by the legendary Pont du Gard: it has three ranges of arches, the lowest range has 12 arches, the second - 15 and the highest range has 53 arches. Aqueduc de Roquefavour is almost twice as high and long as its antique prototype, it was built in XIX century to bring the water of Durance to the city of Marseille and is still functioning. You will find the aqueduct five kilometers from the village in the middle of wild fields and villas.

After admiring the aqueduct, leave a little time to take a walk in the village. Built on the top of 252-meter hill, Ventabren has typical provencal calades (stair-streets) and red tile-roofs. Many houses are built with the stones taken from the the castle_ which once belonged to the legendary queen of Provence - Reine Jeanne. Take a walk along la Grand rue - the main commercial street in the village, where some shops date centuries back. Next to the shops you will see the church Notre Dame et Saint Denis, built in XVII century. Other ancient streets: le Chemin du Puits de la Muse and rue Saint Denis will lead you up to the impressive ruins of X-century castle. From there you’ll have a eautiful view on the valley, l’Etang de Berre and the mountain Sainte Victoire - the favorite scenery of Paul Cézanne.

History

Around Ventabren you can still see few vestiges of early settlement of provencal tribe Montadiens that date back to 8000 B.C. and the foundation of vast oppidum Roquefavour. Oppidum was for a long time considered to be the camp of roman general Marius, recent findings confirm that it was a celto-ligurian settlement. The village Ventabren was born between 920 and 940 A.D. with the construction of fortified castle, which Guillaume I, count of Provence used to protect the territory from sarrazins. Later the powerful family of Les-Baux-de-Provence came into posession of the castle until it was acquired by the counts of Provence. During the reign of Reine Jeanne - the countess of Provence and queen of Sicily the castle was given major defensive role. After the death of the queen her step-son, Louis d’Anjou granted the castle to Bertrand d’Agoultб, the inheritant of a powerful family of Provence. The castle changed many hands, but has not survived the French Revolution. It was destroyed in 1794 with the assistance of the villagers.

L’Aqueduc de Roquefavour was built by young ingeneur Franz Mayor de Montricher in 1841-1847. The decision to build the aqueduct came after great drought of 1834 and the epidemic of cholera in Marseille. The greatest stone-construction of the world still brings water of river Durance to Marseille.

Practical Information

To reach Aqueduc de Roquefavour follow D65 from Aix-en-Provence and you will soon find it. From the aqueduc follow on D65 and then continue until on your right you’ll see the signs of Ventabren.
From Aix-en-Provence bus-station (Gare Routiere) you can take regular bus to Ventabren.

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