The Chateau towers above the village

 

Boulbon is a charming village in the north of the department of Bouches du Rhône, between Avignon and Tarascon. Nestled in a fold of La Montagnette, the land around Boulbon is divided between the fertile plain used for farming and La Montagnette, a paradise for walkers, mushroom gatherers and hunters (except for July to mid September when access is prohibited because of the fire risk).

Visitors to Boulbon will discover a typical mediaeval Provençal village. It has a fortified château which dominates the village and fortifications which protected it from attack.

The spire of the Church of St Anne

Not far from the château is the church of St Anne, built in 1626, after which you will come to the chapel of St Marcellin, a little gem of Romanesque architecture, that you will reach via the street with the town hall on it. The way into the chapel is through a wonderful semicircular portal. The building is not only of interest for its architecture but also because it is the scene every year of the rather unusual Bottle Procession, which is without doubt the most picturesque of Boulbon’s festivals. It takes place every year on the evening of June 1st.

You can be certain in the Town Square of a French village that there is a Cafe de France; Cafe du Commerce or a Cafe de Progres. Bourbon has the ‘Commerce’ version.

When we visited, the remnants ofthe French Presidential Election were still to be seen – a quaint tradition whereby the candidtates posters are all placed side by side in the Town Square. No other posters allowed!!

At around 7 pm the bells ring out and all the men and boys of the village (the women and girls are excluded) hurry along behind the priest to process to the Chapel of St Marcellin. Each man or boy carries one of his best bottles of wine. At the end of the mass the bottles are uncorked and the priest sings prayers and solemnly blesses the wine. Then everyone clinks glasses and drinks religiously.

Generally they all then very carefully recork their bottles – thus enriched by reverent prayer the wine will serve to soothe fevers, stomach aches and other illnesses until the following June… Then the procession returns to the village, uplifted and joyful.

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