Royal gunpowder works watermills – sprucing up our industrial heritage

20 Jul 2019 au 9 Aug 2019

Place : Miramas (Bouches du Rhône)

Public : Adults

Please note this workcamp entails working at height

The old Royal gunpowder works lies at the north end of the Etang de Berre, between the Alpilles hills and the Camargue. The 118-hectare site, or “Poudrerie”as it is known, was built in the 17th century to supply King Louis XIV’s armies.

Production ceased in 1974, leaving the site unoccupied and closed to the public for some 30 years to harbour a dazzlingly diverse range of plants and trees.

Consecutive directors at the gunpowder works used to live on-site and tended to plant trees from around the world. As a result, Atlas Cedars, Chinese Privet, Ginkgo Biloba, Sequoia and American Persimmon all grow together among the remains of this ancient gunpowder works, which also experienced several dramatic explosions during its time.

 The “Poudrerie” was acquired by the French coastal protection agency, the Conservatoire du Littoral,in 2001 and the site still features several key buildings where gunpowder was made. Ongoing work for several years now has helpedrecover the gunpowder works and opened it to the public, with several kilometres of botanical trails for nature-lovers to discover a wide array of untouched flora.

For the last few years, Union APARE-CME volunteers have been working on improvements to various buildings in the grounds and after recently restoring a wash house and the Saint Vincent Chapel, we are now turning our attention, in this sixth consecutive year, to restoring the watermills.

So, in 2019 we’ll continue our task to preserve this industrial heritage by starting to replace the internal wall rendering in the upper watermill. 

Once the work is done, there will be a wide range of leisure activities to choose from, such as hikes in the Camargue, the Luberon and the Alpilles, excursions to Marseille, Aix-en-Provence or Arles, and the chance to get up close to the flora and fauna in the grounds.

Special bonus :  You’ll be living right in the park itself!


Type of work: Conventional masonry and rendering

Accommodation: On-site, in a permanent building fitted with basic male and female dormitories. You can also bring your own tent, if you like.