Monday, February 18, 2013

Le Castellet

Le Castellet is a tiny medieval town about a half-hour from La Ciotat. One of the teachers I work with took me there this weekend. It was very lovely, and reminded me of a Provencal Door County, in a way: lots of little boutiques, gift shops, restaurants, etc., cashing in on the ancient aspect of the town. 

According to Wikipedia, 111 people live there as of 2009. It wasn't exactly crowded when we went, but I can imagine how crazy it might get in the summer. There is also a medieval festival/Renaissance fair each year. I think they do some sort of Knights Templar re-enactment in front of the church.

Eglise St. Anne
 The Mayor's office is particularly cute, being made out of stone, and the view is amazing: Le Castellet is perched on a hill, all the better to see your enemies coming from miles away, I suppose. I'm sure the ramparts are not particularly useful anymore, except to keep tourists from falling down the hill...

Chateau Mairie

One of the coolest parts was the "four banal" in one of the shops, which dates from 1447. A "four banal" is roughly translated as a "community oven." The one in Le Castellet is round, like a turret or a spire (probably the best way to expel the smoke) and it was used up until the 20th century. Basically, the townfolk wouldn't be able to bake their own bread at home, because the building and maintaining of an over would be way too expensive individually. So, they would pay a tax to some noble with a big enough house to have an oven (and it was big--think 20-30 m diameter, at least) and thus secure a spot in the oven for their bread on baking day. Ingenious, no?

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