Historical walks. In the Vaucluse, a 25 km wall to protect … from the plague

On May 25, 1720, a vessel from Syria docked in Marseille. On board, fabrics, but also a disease – the plague – which has already killed several sailors.

In the space of a few weeks, the disease spread to Marseille. It continues its ravages along the coast to Toulon, then infiltrates inland: Arles, Tarascon, Pertuis, Cucuron and Apt.

To curb the disease, it was decided to create a dry stone sanitary wall 2 meters high. 20 km long, it links Monieux to Cabrières.

500 men erected it between March and July 1721 and 1,000 others guarded it. They were ordered to shoot anyone crossing the wall!

A loop (count 2 hours, easy level) starting from Cabrières-d’Avignon (Vaucluse) allows you to follow part of the wall.

6 km of wall have been restored

From the Cabrières-d’Avignon car park, join Avenue Giono and take it on the left.

Continue on the right on the Grand Rue towards the center of the village, pass in front of the church and turn left on rue du Château in front of the fountain.

Pass in front of the wash house, continue straight ahead and take the Chemin de la Pourtalette.

At the Calvary, go straight ahead and 50 m further on, continue on the Muscadelle path.

At the end of the tar, climb a stony path and at the collar (Croix de Lagnes), continue the path opposite to the plague wall.

Fork to the right and follow the wall. Upstream, the path deviates somewhat from the wall and then follows it again. Reach under the pines, the crossroads “La Peithe”.

Buildings on either side housed the sentries

Go left, cross the forest track and at the “Citerne” post, take the path to the left (GR). At the two successive crossings of paths, continue straight ahead and switch into the valley.

Cross a rocky section and descend. At the “Vallon des Esperacons” crossroads, leave the GR and climb the left path.

On this portion, observe constructions on each side of the wall: they housed provisions or sentries in bad weather.

Since 1986, a restoration campaign has been carried out over approximately 6 km between Cabrières-d’Avignon and Lagnes.

The wall finally abandoned in 1723

At the “Esperacons” crossroads, continue to the right on the balcony path, pass a shoulder (belvedere 20 m on the right) and the path to the left. Below a limestone cliff is the village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse which owes its name to the source of the Sorgue.

It is the largest water exsurgence in France. At the “Le soldat” crossroads, turn left then right. At the Y, follow the track to the right, pass a hairpin then descend.

When entering a bend to the right, enter a path on the left. Further down after a right turn, stay on the right track.

At the track, take the D100 to the left then take the road on the left for 150 m and reach the parking area.

Then take the track on the left along the car park and leave it 300 m further on to take the path opposite.

Go down and reach point 1 at the level of the Plague Wall. From there, return to Cabrières-d’Avignon by the same path taken on the way out.

After about 100,000 deaths, the disease died out in January 1723 and the wall was abandoned.

Today listed as a Historic Monument, it is regularly the subject of restoration campaigns.

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