Malaucene

 

Malaucene is a quiet market town dominated by a big, fortified church, St-Michel-en-Pierre, which was built in 1309 by Pope Clement V, who used to summer in Malaucene. With its machicolations and other fortress elements, it is a very warlike church, part Romanesque, part Gothic.

The main drag of Malaucene has a good number of restaurants and cafes under the shade of the plane trees. There are fountains and squares to discover inside the town walls, as well as the houses of wealthy merchants in the 16-18th centuries, which give a clue to Malaucene’s past.

In its day, Malaucene was an industrial town, thanks to the source of the Groseau river emerging nearby. A dozen factories were built along its banks to take advantage of the force of its water – paper mills, flour mills, olive oil presses, copper beating.  Today only the paper mill survives.

The source of the Groseau also has a chapel, again a remnant of more impressive things, as there used to be a monastery here, now completely gone.

Malaucene is traditionally a launchpad for those cycling up to the top of the Mont Ventoux, the ‘Giant of Provence’, which is probably the toughest climb in the Tour de France. When you get to the top of the Mont Ventoux’s 1912 metres (you may prefer to drive), you are met with a lunar landscape, a telecoms tower, and an incredible view as far as the Alps and the Mediterranean.