Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban is a French commune, located in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. 5th city of the Alpes de Haute-Provence, it has 5500 inhabitants. Capital of the Canton of the same name, it is the center town of the Pays Durance Provence and of the Community of Agglomeration Provence Alpes Agglomeration. The castle, which currently houses the town hall, has been listed multiple times.
Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban is located in Haute Provence on the right bank of the Durance in the heart of the Alpes de Haute-Provence department. Accessible from Aix Marseille by the A 51 and from Grenoble by the Route Napoléon and the A 51, Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban is at the crossroads of this Durancian axis and the Napoleon road leading to Nice.
The territory of the municipality is densely occupied in ancient times. Its favorable position on the banks of the Durance and on a busy road motivated the establishment of a castle, named after one of its first lords. Château-Arnoux remains a single rural district until the beginning of xx th century. Its location far from the borders, protected from invasions by the Alps, and equipped with a rail link, motivated the installation of a major chemical weapons manufacturing plant in the village of Saint-Auban during the First World War., which changes its face.
Today, the name of the town takes this duality into account, a medieval village on one side, an industrial town on the other, whose Arkema factory has been running many risks since the first pollution of the Durance, but brings the prosperity to the whole town.
The Durance was notably in the Neolithic period an active place of trade and settlement. The site near Aubignosc bears witness to this. The Gallo-Roman era made the Durance a major axis of communication. By land, with the Via Domitia which adjoins the territory, by water, the Durance was then navigable. The ancient port of Bourguet, at Escale on the other bank, is a remarkable witness.
Well located in the valley of the Durance, the territory of the municipality is densely occupied during Antiquity. Its territory is part of that of the Sogiontiques (Sogiontii), whose territory extends from the south of the Baronnies to the Durance. The Sogiontiques are federated with the Voconces, and after the Roman conquest, they are attached with them to the Roman province of Narbonnaise. In the ii th century, they are detached from Voconces and form a civitas distinct, with its capital Segustero (Sisteron).
In the Middle Ages, the village occupied the heights of Saint-Jean, sheltered from the dreaded passage of armed troops and the vagaries and nuisances of the river.
While the south-east of Gaul was a Burgundian land, the king of the Ostrogoths Theodoric the Great conquered the region between the Durance, the Rhône and the Isère in 510. The municipality therefore depends briefly again on Italy, until 526. Indeed, to be reconciled with the Burgundian king Gondemar III, the Ostrogothic regent Amalasonthe returns this territory to him.
The locality appears for the first time in the charters in 1182 (Castrum Arnuphum), the village being then located on the hill Saint-Jean.
In 1129, the count of Forcalquier Bertrand I of Forcalquier seized the castrum, which belonged to Entrevennes-Mison. The inhabitants had refused to pay the albergue, taking advantage of the Baussenque wars to claim to be subservient to the Count of Barcelona. In the xii th century, the abbey Saint-André de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon are possessed the Saint-Pierre-de-la-Durance, and perceived incomes.
On June 29, 1220, the Meyrargues agreements were signed between Guillaume de Sabran and Raymond Bérenger IV de Provence, about the county of Forcalquier that they were disputing. The north of the county, from Forcalquier included as far as Buëch went to the count of Provence, minus a few enclaves like Château-Arnoux which remained to Guillaume de Sabran.
The fief depended Agoult the xiv th century, before moving to Glandevès (xv th century) and the Foresta (xvi th century), and finally to Lombard (which add Château-Arnoux in their name). The community came under the vigil of Sisteron.
Economic development and trade lead to the transfer of the village to the valley, its current situation. Château-Arnoux was one of the residences of one of the most powerful Provencal families, the GLANDEVES, who built their castle.
During the wars of religion, the Dukes of Lesdiguières and Lavalette met there in 1588, in order to pacify the region.
Revolution and Empire
During the French Revolution, to follow the decree of the Convention of 25 Vendémiaire Year II inviting the municipalities with names that may recall memories of royalty, feudalism or superstitions, to replace them with other names, the municipality changes name for Roche-Arnoux.
In 1793, the castle was put up for demolition, even if the work was not completed.
However, the five towers were lowered at this time.
The establishment of the railway, the bridge over the Durance which replaced the ferry system, put Château-Arnoux in the industrial era.
In 1829, the construction of a suspension bridge was intended to double the ancient Baume de Sisteron bridge, further upstream. Its construction was completed in 1833, but the suspension chains broke during the load test (with 10 m 3 of bagged gravel placed on the deck). It was finally put into service in 1836; its apron is 114 m long.
Like many municipalities in the department, Château-Arnoux had a school long before the Jules Ferry laws: in 1863, it already had one which provided primary education for boys, in the capital. The same instruction is given to girls, although the Falloux law (1851) only requires the opening of a girls’ school in municipalities with more than 800 inhabitants. The town benefits from the subsidies of the second Duruy law (1877) to renovate its school.
The establishment in the town at a place called Saint-Auban in 1916 of the chemical establishment ALAIS-FROGES-CAMARGUE. Intended for the war industry in this First World War. Thus was born one of the main Alpine industrial sites with up to 2,500 workers at the turn of the 1970s.
In WWII, to prepare for the landing in Provence, the 143th US Infantry Regiment releases the towns and villages in its path, including Saint-Auban and, as a result, Château-Arnoux.
Until the middle of the xx th century, the vine was cultivated in Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban. The wine produced, of mediocre quality, was intended for home consumption. This culture is now abandoned.
In 1959, the 123-year-old suspension bridge was closed, after having undergone major repairs in 1899 and 1919. It was replaced by the L’Escale dam-bridge.
The town installation produced a large-scale autonomous industrial complex, factory and workers’ city. Incredible melting pot of nationalities, endowed with all the services of triumphant industrial paternalism, the workers’ city of Saint-Auban was for many years a model in this field. This exemplary actually a model of the industrial heritage of the XX th century. City gardens, it structures the urban landscape and the social relationships of an era. Two populations thus lived side by side on the same territory. The workers’ city of Saint-Auban and the rural village of Château-Arnoux. Two populations with divergent aspirations and traditions participated in an economic and social mix. This symbiosis was confirmed by the name change from Château-Arnoux to Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban during the 1980s.
Today, the municipality is working within the Community of Middle Durance and Pays Durance Provence municipalities on the emergence of a new economic model combining traditional industry and tourism development. For this, it relies on the exceptional quality of its environment. The Durance and its lake, the hills of Haute-Provence have become a recognized destination for the practice of outdoor sports and the observation of flora and fauna.
At the edge of the lake, there is a tree-lined promenade. Important ornithological site. The castle is a classified site.
The town hall is located in a Renaissance castle but in Gothic style, partly listed and partly listed as a historic monument. It was built by Pierre de Glandevez, around 1510-1515, the castle being completed before 1530, on an old fortified castle. From the old castle, there are still blocked loopholes and a gunner in one of the towers. It is accosted by five towers, two rounds, two square and a hexagonal in which a monumental staircase unfolds, of 84 steps decorated with Renaissance sculptures representing mythological characters, except on the first floor, where the commissioning couple (Pierre de Glandevès and Madeleine de Villemus) is represented; the windows are mullioned. Some are surmounted by semicircular tympanums, Renaissance style, others by simple pinnacles with florets. It has belonged to the municipality since 1947. The monumental fireplace and the door to the Great Hall are very richly decorated with plasterwork. It was restored in 1966 and 1979.
A rare example of Renaissance architecture, the castle was built by Pierre de Glandeves from 1515. It still has the attributes of a stronghold: traces of machicolations, mixed loopholes, string and firearms.
Its four defense towers and its magnificent staircase make it look great. The monumental staircase is decorated with mythological sculptures. The access door to the hall of honor is historiated. The staircase, classified as a historical monument, can be visited on request.
The Renaissance facades have magnificent mullioned windows. We also observe the astonishing corbelled stumps of chimneys as well as the particularly evocative gargoyles. Since 1947, the castle has housed municipal services in one of the most beautiful town halls in Haute-Provence.
The park is organized around bridle paths. It is adorned with a fountain backing onto the slope of the land at this location. Terraces are arranged thanks to terraces, and wooded with oaks, maple, lime and chestnut trees. With its park, it is classified as a registered site since 1951.
At Petites Fillières, there is a farmhouse dating from 1667, vaulted with low arched arches. At the Font-Robert, the large farmhouse roofs to a single slope, dated xvii th century: it currently houses an auditorium.
Wooden houses with an internal bearing structure in the shape of a compass were built in 1943 by Jean Prouvé and Pierre Jeanneret in a housing estate. Two of them, located rue de la Colline, are historic monuments listed. Windmill; dam bridge.
Passage of the Oraison canal. Dam 445 m long.
A suspension bridge was built over the Durance in the 1830s: the decision was taken in 1829, and the site lasted until 1833. The deck was 114 m long; but the suspension chains break during load test. It was rebuilt more solid and put into service in 1836 or 1837 with an apron of 118 m in a single span taken by the RN 85. It underwent major repairs in 1899 and 1919, and was not closed until 1959 with the construction of the Escale bridge-dam.
The town has one of the rare monuments to the pacifist dead in France.
Village of Château-Arnoux-St Auban
Located on the right bank of the Durance, it is the 5th city of the department with 5500 inhabitants. The two villages, Château-Arnoux to the east and Saint-Auban to the west, form a single commune. Castrum Arnulphi was probably the name of the builder of the 1st fortified castle located on the hill of St John.
La Chapelle Saint-Jean (1667-1668) at an altitude of 665 meters is accessible from the tourist office by a marked path. Contemporary furniture and stained glass windows by the world famous artist Bernar Venet. The chapel is open on Wednesdays in July and August from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Every Sunday morning, there is a large Provençal market in Saint-Auban on Place Pechiney. Thursday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., a small organic market on Place de la Resistance in Château-Arnoux.
The prestigious castle was built by Pierre de Glandevès between 1510 and 1530. It now houses the premises of the Town Hall. The spiral staircase, classified as a historical monument, is decorated with remarkable mythological figures. The Castle park has been classified since 1951 as a “natural site and monument”, some oaks being as old as the castle.
The priory of Saint-Pierre-es-Liens, the xi th century, classified historic monument is built near the cemetery. Some walls of the apse and door remain from the first state. Currently, these remains are integrated into a villa.
The parish church, placed under the name of Saint-Bernard, and patronized by Saint Pierre ès ties, was built in 1634. The nave is vaulted with ribs, and bordered by aisles. The bell tower is a tower, built against the choir, with an arrow alongside four pyramidions.
The Saint-Jean-Baptiste chapel, built in 1667-1668, has a capped bay and two vaults. It offers a beautiful panorama over the Durance valley and the Alps.
The Church of Jesus the Worker in Saint-Auban was built in 1938-1939 by Bénézech, where in 2007 the choir had just been repainted in 3 locally inspired paintings.
Every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. On the Place de la Resistance, local producers, sale of organic products or products from sustainable agriculture.
Festivals and events
This small town is the setting for various events.
Cultural event: “Les Festives de Font Robert” in July.
Sporting event: mountain bike ride “La Jarlandine” in May.
Gastronomic event: the feast of the Friend of bread, 1 st Sunday of September, numerous events, exhibitions of regional artists, meals…
Flea market: every other Saturday, Esplanade de la Resistance, official and professional organization
Sunday morning, large and traditional Provençal market in Saint-Auban.
Agriculture and agro-tourism
A relatively homogeneous agricultural plateau in the Plan sector. It is the most important agricultural area of the town, which has very good soil suitability (low slopes, quite loaded with stones and fairly high fertility), of good agronomic quality and irrigated. Its strong agricultural potential and its landscape value make the Plan an agricultural area to be preserved.
An agricultural area in Les Salettes, within the alluvial plain of the Durance, presents a strong tourist stake. This agricultural area, which is partly concerned by the eco-tourism project carried by Provence Alpes Agglomeration.
The Val de Durance mountain biking base is located at the Tourist Office in Château-Arnoux, it offers more than 600 km of marked trails. 28 loop circuits of all levels, an evolution circuit, maneuverability workshops… There are also many hiking trails available in the area. Topo guides are on sale at the Tourist Office.
Another way of discovering nature and playing sports: orientation: Sporting discipline or leisure activity, orientation consists of finding markers using a map and a compass. Permanent routes are in place at Château-Arnoux. Map on sale at the Tourist Office.
Several heritage interpretation trails, accessible to all, are also to be discovered.
This route takes you from Château-Arnoux to Peyruis by a very beautiful path in the middle of nature. Departure from Château-Arnoux, it’s a very beautiful circuit with some technical difficulties, footbridges, bridges, long buses, mainly on single-track trails, pure mountain biking.
The Rock is made of limestone and evolves on different profiles: slab, vertical, cant. The minimum height is 15m and the maximum is 40m.