The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour 31 – The Priory

The Priory of Saint Pierre de Mejans is located in Puyvert, Provence, and historical records from 1118 show it was owned at that time by the Abbey of Saint Andé de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. We stayed there for 5 nights.

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The priory has been associated with winemaking since at least 1343. In January of that year the Archbishop of Aix stayed there for two nights and found that part of the church was used as a wine storage space.

It was seized by the State after the French Revolution, whence it was sold and converted into a silkworm breeding farm. There are several of the original mulberry trees still there – this one is over 200 years old.


Later, it continued to operate as a vineyard. It was purchased by the parents of our host, Tiane, in the 1960s, ‘before it was trendy to live in Provence’, he said. His brother is currently running the wine making operation, and they produce a white, a rose, and a red.

The building itself was restored by the previous owner in the 1950s, part of the church having fallen in an earthquake in the early 1900s. You can see a section that was left standing after that event.

Behind the building is old pond with fish and frogs. Here is one sitting on a lilly pad.

They make a huge racket during the day, and to capture them on video I had to sneak up on the pond.

Here is a back view of the house with some mulberry trees in the foreground.

As I said, the bottom floor dates from the 12th century, although it is not entirely clear when the upper floors were added.  You can see here the ground, first floor (where our room was), and the upper floors.

The walls are 1400mm in the thickest parts, 400 in the thinnest. The thickness may well be due to the porous nature of the stone used – it looks like dense sponge with shells in it.

It is usually cooler in the house than outside, so we were told to leave the windows open to let warm air in. After closing them at night the room was still warm in the morning. Mind you, this is coming into summer. In winter, we were told, that it gets very, very cold, and the thickness of the walls (there is no actual insulation) doesn’t help.

This was (and would be, for anyone reading this) a fantastic place to stay. Tiane was an amazing host, had lots of local knowledge and advice about what villages to visit. 

The priory is near to many small villages, many of which have weekly markets, and all of which. The most notable of these are probably Bonnieux and Luberon, and I’ll write a few notes about the latter in my next post.

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