At the foot of the Luberon on the banks of the Durance River, our village has remained completely authentic.
The old village of Mallemort features the charm of its old city streets and stones you can enjoy during your stroll, for example, rue du Château d’eau and its panoramic view over the Durance plain, rue du Cosmonaute and its stone walkway that offers a fascinating insight into the history of Mallemort, the surprising rue de la Mairie or a charming cobbled passageway from cour Marius Taché… At the heart of the old village stands the impressive church of Saint Michel, built between 1751 and 1756 in the classical style. The final and must-see part of any exploration of the village is the archway just behind the church that leads to the 12th-century castle ruins. The castle was formerly the property of the bishops of Marseilles until 1789. Today, only the ruined remnants of the keep survive after destruction and encroachment by houses. At its base is the orientation table with a magnificent panorama where the gaze can roam over the Durance into the Luberon.
The Mallemort bridges are all that connect the two banks. The earlier bridge, the old suspension
bridge, was built between 1844 and 1848 at the order of King Louis Philippe. It is the last remaining large bridge on the Durance River at 300 metres in length, with a wooden deck six metres wide. It was swept away the first time by a flood in 1872 and then in 1880, 1882 and 1886. It was practically destroyed by bombing in 1940.
The heart of the plain is the capriciously sweeping Durance River. Although its devastating floods ensured that it was regarded as one of the three scourges of Provence (the other two being the Mistral wind and the local parliament before the Revolution), the Durance also irrigates and replenishes the countryside. Only E.D.F. has managed to tame the river other than its centennial floods thanks to the canal de Basse Durance and above all the Serre-Ponçon dam.
In the 16th century, the gifted engineer Adam de Craponne created a remarkable system for irrigating the Crau plain and the Lower Durance region. The plain became fertile and even flourishing. The canal saved the valley from the Mediterranean summer; the plain’s agricultural output rose sharply, reaching its apogee in the early 20th century. The village of Mallemort was famous at the time for its extensive fruit and vegetable produce from the end of the 1930s onwards and after the war until 1970 when a large market funnelled the region’s produce. Mallemort’s fame was carried far by carrots and melons!
Mallemort’s history is also the story of an area that has expanded since the Middle Ages until the present: the hamlet of Pont Royal. The origins of the hamlet date back to the 13th century with Moulin de Vernègues, the flour mill of the manor of Vernègues that belonged to the archbishopric of Arles. King René would hunt in these lands and the manor house was used as a coaching inn. The earliest date found for Château de Pont Royal, which is now a winery estate, is 1716. Archives show that it was a posting inn used for changing horses for the king’s messengers. Twenty-two people were employed there. In setting up with their families they gradually established the hamlet. More recently – in 1991 to be exact – Severiano Ballesteros designed his only French golf course set against the garrigue countryside and the pinewoods. Inaugurated in September 1992, the magnificent 18-hole golf course with an incomparable panorama has carved out a position and a reputation in Europe, which has been confirmed by the “Masters 13”, an international annual pro tournament. The Domaine de Pont Royal has since become a regional lynchpin for leisure and business tourism featuring hotel residences, seminar rooms, and restaurants all around this extraordinary area that contributes to the dynamism of Mallemort.
The charm and the strength of our village can also be enjoyed in our provençal market and its events throughout the year with night-time markets, concerts, plays and shows…