in one of the most illustrious villages of the “Vallis Clausa” so dear to Petrarch
Just a stone’s throw from a village, 30 minutes from the A7 motorway, 50 minutes from Avignon TGV train station, 70 minutes from Marseille airport. In a region known for having been the birthplace of and attracting numerous poets and artists, the “Vallis Clausa”, having given its name to the Vaucluse department, is now home to a rich artistic and architectural heritage, with its dry-stone constructions, its springs as well as many unforgettable hiking trails.
The house is entirely constructed against and under the rock, enclosed by a dry-stone wall. This is what is known as a “facade” troglodyte house where the building is laid out longwise along the rockface. This characteristic contrasts with “adjoining” troglodyte constructions where the rooms are successively hewn depthwise out of the rock. The choice made here is not only explained by the nature of the rock which is difficult to hew out, but also gives the rooms better ventilation as each opens directly on to the outside. It is hard to date these constructions which have probably come down through the centuries and been remodelled at every turn. The presence of reused stone is an immediate reminder of the olive oil production past of the premises. Most of the construction probably dates from the 17th century, a time when farming prospered in the region. The house facade must, however, have been redesigned in the 19th century: crowned with a balustrade, it is covered with lime rendering and the openings are enhanced with protruding surrounds. These features give the construction a certain nobility, the owners probably intending to demonstrate their prosperity.
This south-facing construction follows the lie of the land via a series of steps linking the various rooms and almost systematically giving access to the outside. Rock is omnipresent throughout the building. The converted section is divided into two self-contained flats. Although totally independent of one another they do, however, communicate via the inside. A first flat is accessed from the first terrace at the top of the flight of wide, shallow steps. Another flight of steps leads to a large kitchen and dining room area. A few additional steps go to a living room and a bathroom. The second flat can be reached from the large terrace. The adjoining rooms comprise two lounges, with fireplaces, a kitchen and two bedrooms.
Lower Level 1
The stairway in the living room of the first flat goes to a second living room on the lower floor.
Each flat has a stairway going up to the first floor, directly housed under the rock. The stairway in the first flat leads to a mezzanine bedroom. A door opens on to a wide plateau under the rock which is now open and communicates with
the upstairs of the second flat. The second stairway provides access to two bedrooms via a wide corridor running alongside the rock.
The lush vegetation to be found in the grounds gently filters the southern light before it reaches the facade. The river Sorgue that Petrarch described as “the queen of all springs” can be glimpsed flowing past below. The rocks, dominating the region, flank the view. The exterior conversions also date from the 19th century. The property includes two ponds, laid out below the house and reached via a flight of steps. These ponds were fed by a spring and an ingenious system makes it possible for water to flow into the first one, prior to the second one. Right next to the spring, a small man-made cave decorated with shells brings to mind the “cold rooms”, very much in fashion in the 19th century.
Also constructed from dry stone under the rockface, it has not yet been converted and holds great potential for extending the living space of the house.
Below the construction and reached via a flight of steps, it awaits restoration.
It was not by chance that Petrarch gave free rein to his imagination here when, taking great delight in his love for Laura, he wrote:
“Silence and peace ever reign here,
Nothing disturbs the sky and the legitimate orders,
Nature has decorated its sublime theatres,
Where the Sorgue nymph has built her palace.”
The building, both characteristic of the region and extraordinary because of its size and its exterior conversions, exudes a purely poetic and romantic atmosphere. The rock’s striking presence gives this site character and a unique force. The morphology of the buildings, laid out longwise and facing south, makes it possible to create independent accesses without changing the singularity of the premises.
|Land registry surface area||6463 m2|
|Main building surface area||370 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||5|
|Outbuilding surface area||223 m2|
Anne Gervaux +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.