In 871 the existence of a "Villa Sallone", an agricultural estate from the Gallo-Roman period, is confirmed in a property inventory deed, which states that Rostans, the Archbishop of Arles, owned lands in the region of Salon.
It was during this period that Provence was constituted, under the authority of the Holy Roman Empire.
For diplomatic reasons the Emperor left the lands of Salon in the possession of the Archbishops of Arles, giving them some independence in the eyes of the Counts of Provence.
The status of "Adjacent Lands" of the Empire contributed to the establishment of the town, and later to its stability until Provence was incorporated into the kingdom of France in 1481.
Le château de l'Empéri | Musée de l'Empéri & de la Crau dans le Château | Sainte Catherine | L'église St-Michel | La Collégiale St-Laurent | La Tour de l'Horloge | L'Hôtel de Ville | Le Monument aux Morts d'Eugène Piron | La Porte du Bourg-Neuf et sa Vierge Noire | Le Kiosque à musique
To maintain their power, in around the 10th century the Archbishops built a defensive position on the rock of Le Puech in the centre of the Crau Plain, sheltered by the Alpilles.
Salon was a strategic commercial crossroads between Arles, Avignon, Aix and Marseille, and the "Castrum Salonnis" is known to have existed in 1144.
Today, Château de l'Empéri (name from the Holy Roman Empire) is a remarkable example of the development of castle architecture from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Huge walls, originally crenellated with many towers, a square keep known as the "Pierre Cros tower", a series of courtyards and a chapel illustrate the first building campaign of the 13th century. The main courtyard is symbolic of the quest for comfort and beauty which guided the Archbishops who lived there until the beginning of the Renaissance.
The castle became national property during the Revolution and served as a barracks from the 19th century. This explains the impressive and anachronistic presence of the building in the first courtyard.
Severely damaged by the earthquake in 1909, the building underwent major restoration work in the 1920s, progressively returning to its former nobility and gaining a new role in the town.
Château de l'Empéri became the "Empéri Museum" thanks to the Brunon brothers.
In 1967 the Army Museum acquired the former collections of Raoul and Jean Brunon, which were housed in Château de l'Empéri at that time. Since then, it has become a unique place in which the public is invited to take part in a journey through the history of France, from Louis XIV to the Great War. From Fontenoy's soldiers to those of Verdun, all aspects of it are illustrated by unique objects, such as Napoleon's bed from Saint Helena.
Those visiting Château de l'Empéri Castle and Museum are sure to succumb to the charm of this former residence of the Archbishops of Arles, before the elegant Renaissance Gallery, and the massive medieval defensive architecture.
It is also an opportunity to discover Salon's heritage and view the work of contemporary artists in the regular exhibitions held at the Château.
CHATEAU-MUSEUM DE L'EMPERI + THEODORE JOURDAN GALLERY
Montée du Puech - 04.90.44.72.80 - 04.90.56.90.84
Open every day except Monday and certain holidays from 13h30 to 18h. During Zone B school holidays open from 10h to 12h and 14h to 18h.
4,80 € Full price
3,10 € Reduced price for: 1) Holders of a "large family" card, 2) Seniors over 60, 3) Disabled persons and one person accompanying them, 4) Persons accompanying a "Yes" youth card holder, 5) Teachers not resident in Salon-de-Provence, 6) Groups of 10 or more, 7) other approved pass holders (Bouches-du-Rhône Tourist Board Holiday Pass, Guide du Routard, Yes card)
Free for: 1) Under 25's, 2) Job seekers and people on minimum social benefit, 3) Teachers of primary and Secondary schools on professional visits, 4) Curators of public collections 5) journalists on professional visits, 6) members of the Ministry of Defence - Empéri Museum only, 7) Holiday Advantage Pass holders, 8) Drivers of school or travel agency coaches
Choice of Salon Museums: 2 out of 3 Museums
7,30€ Normal price
5,30€ Reduced price for the 2 museums for certain visitor categories (contact us for details).
Free for the 2 museums for certain visitor categories (contact us for details).
The Théodore Jourdan exhibition is free!
Romanesque Chapel of Saint Catherine dating from the 12th century. Tympanum with cross pattee, the arms of which are narrow towards the centre and wider towards the tip. In 1198 the archbishop Gibelin de Sabran entrusted the guard of Salon-de-Crau castle to the Templars, who remained there until 1206. The name of Saint Catherine is first found in a catalogue dating from the 11th century, written in Greek. In around the same period, the bones of a woman were discovered by the monks of Mount Sinai. The rumour immediately circulated that the relics of Saint Catherine had been found. When the crusaders returned home they made known the story of the Saint in the west and built many chapels in her name.
Built at the foot of the castle towards the early 13th century, in the centre of the town's activity, the Church of Saint-Michel opens on to a square crossed by one of the main roads. The chevet faces east, in accordance with widespread practice; mass is celebrated facing Jerusalem [and the rising sun]. The building illustrates specific features of Provençal art with its arched bell tower and the restraint of its sculpted decoration in the Romanesque style; this style also explains the simplicity of its layout (single nave without a side-aisle or an ambulatory), as well as the thick walls and narrow openings.
Plain and solid in appearance, the church is brightened by the luminous warmth of the stone used for the main structure. From the same period, the sculpted tympanum which decorates the main door evokes the archangel St Michael crushing the forces of evil symbolised by the serpent.
While the general appearance of the building is typical of Romanesque art, the vaults on the intersecting ribs of the nave and the apse illustrate one of the earliest examples of the Gothic style in Provence.
The church was therefore the subject of several successive building campaigns, going as far as the addition of a bell tower in the 15th century crowning the frontage and used as a clock tower until the 17th century.
Don't miss : The organ in the St-Michel church
Located "outside the walls" and built by the people of Salon, the Collegiate Church of Saint-Laurent expressed the spiritual power of the archbishops of Arles.
The first stone was laid in 1344 by Jean de Cardonne, replacing a chapel, near which was a cemetery. Following several interruptions to the building campaigns (plagues, invasion of the town by armed bands, collapse), the building was completed nearly a century and a half later, in the 1480s.
Due to its collegiate status, its imposing silhouette is primarily a visible sign of the archbishops' control of the town; they had full powers over the college of canons who officiated at church services.
Although Gothic art was slow to appear in Provence, Saint-Laurent took inspiration from it for its octagonal bell tower, and particularly for the vaulting of its nave on intersecting ribs, which gave the building greater elevation.
Reminders of the Romanesque style are nonetheless still very present: little hollowing out of the stone (thick buttresses, small openings – this last observation may also be explained by the desire to protect the building from the Mistral and the heat, and lack of sculpted decoration).
Inside, the balance between the layout and the elevation is remarkable: a single nave, without a side-aisle or an ambulatory, but flanked by 11 side chapels.
A majestic polychrome sculptured Pieta, of Burgundian inspiration and dating back to the early 16th century, is of particular note in one of them (north side).
This work was not originally intended for the collegiate church, but is one of the items that was deposited there following the desecration of Salon's Cordeliers Convent church during the Revolution.
The same was the case for the Tomb of Nostradamus, that can now be seen in the chapel of the Virgin.
The prophet's health had been failing for a long time, the grand climacteric (62nd year) was upon him, and on 2 July 1566, his earthly career came to an end.
His tomb was the site of many pilgrimages. Among the most famous visitors were two kings of France, Louis XIII in 1622 and Louis XIV in 1660. The latter came in the company of his mother Anne of Austria, his brother the Duke of Anjou, his cousin Mlle d'Orléans, and Cardinal Mazarin.
Later the tomb received less respectful visits. In 1792 the National Guard who were travelling through Salon went to the church, profaned the tomb of the prophet and scattered his bones. It is said that the soldier who was the first to violate the tomb was shot several days later for having stolen the silver. In this way Nostradamus had his revenge.
The following epitaph was engraved on his sepulchre: "Here lie the bones of Michel Nostradame, whose almost divine pen was considered by all worthy of recounting and reporting coming events beyond Earth's sphere to men, according to the influence of the stars. He departed this life in Salon-de-Craux in Provence, in the year of grace 1566, on 2 July, aged sixty-two years six months and seventeen days. O posteres, do not take his ashes, and be not envious of his rest here."
The Collegiate Church of Saint-Laurent was renovated in 2008.
ORGAN OF SAINT-LAURENT
The organ case and the instrumental parts are by Baker and Verschneider, and date back to 1865. This was the first organ built with a Peschard electric system. The mixtures were modified and the organ refurbished by Merklin in 1974.
Built on the site of the north gate of the old town walls, the Clock Gate marks the transition from the new to the old town. It was built in the 17th century and crowned with a belltower by Roland.
Each day of the week is represented by a "semainier" following the planets; the Sun for Sunday, the Moon for Monday, Mars for Tuesday, Mercury for Wednesday, Jupiter for Thursday, Venus for Friday, and Saturn for Saturday.
The Clock Gate was entirely renovated in the spring of 2003, the Clock Tower is listed as a historical monument, and the belfry and bell are listed historical monuments.
In classical style despite the two bartizans adorning its front, the Hôtel de Ville was built between 1655 and 1658. Its position is evidence that the town had already grown beyond the ramparts hemming it in during the Middle Ages.
On its façade, two statues symbolise Prudence and Temperance.
It owes its colour to the use of stone from Rognes, or Saint Laurent.
THE WEDDING ROOM
The former Council Chamber is particularly lavish with its French ceilings and beautiful woodwork, a masterpiece by Maurice Thaddeus Bernus in 1784 and classified as a historical monument.
The bust of the Bailli de Suffren, was carved in the same year by John Joseph Foucou. Consuls, wanting to pay tribute to the famous sailor, ordered the two works together, the first to serve as the setting for the second.
The room originally had the portraits of the kings of France. After the Revolution, they were replaced by those of the most illustrious Salonais: Pierre d'Hozier, César Nostradamus, Robert Paul Lamanon, Louis de Pontis Urtis, the Bailli de Suffren, Jean de Suffren, Michel de Nostradamus, Jean Baptiste de Latour of Galois, and acting as the first magistrate, Adam Craponne.
The seats of the mayor and the newlyweds, and the arms Salon were made in 1962, while the Aubusson tapestry was presented to Mayor Jean Francou for his thirty-year tenure in 1986. The monumental candle is a gift from Wertheim, as well as the cabinet tabernacle. Municipal Council Chambers, located on the 2nd floor, is of modern style. Thus, the City Hall is not only a fine example of classical architecture: it is the place where works from all periods exist together and where all those who added their effort to the building of our community are remembered.
On 9 August 1919, the Municipal Council of Salon launched an appeal for the building of a war memorial and voted a sum of 10,000 francs with this in view.
The site they settled upon was the cliff of the St-Roch Cemetery and the project by Eugène Piron was commissioned. This is how the artist describes his own project:
"The monument is cut completely from the rock, representing an opening which appears to lead to the vault where the deceased are laid. At the entrance to this opening, a bugle sounds the 'Sublime Awakening' which summons the massed image of those who sleep there."
In this instance, the bugle is the modern version of the angel sounding the Last Judgement and the Resurrection.
The monument was solemnly inaugurated on 11 November 1925 and is recognised as being unique in its kind. It remains unique in its monumental nature, its stark realism, and especially its humanity.
Sadly, Eugene Piron committed suicide three years later, on 17 November 1928. He was buried in the St-Roch cemetery, alongside the sons of Salon who died for France, at the foot of the work which immortalised him.
This gateway in the mediaeval wall shows the importance of the ramparts up to the 17th century. Under the porch of the Bourg Neuf Gate is a niche containing a Black Virgin from the 13th century. The original statue of the Black Virgin with child is located in the stairway of the lobby of the Hôtel de Ville (town hall)!
This bandstand on Place des Martyrs was constructed recently, in 1993.
For the people of Salon it is a reminder of an old bandstand that had stood on Place Thiers (now Place de Gaulle) since the industrial period.
First replaced in 1900, at the same location, it was finally destroyed in 1963 and replaced by a large fountain.