Place: Mérindol (Vaucluse)
Warning: involves working at height
The Luberon, with its hot summers, Cigales and cool springs, is the scene for this workcamp where you’ll help restore a site that was once the centre of village life, the Bonne Fontaine wash-house. Volunteers restored the pools last year, so this year, you’ll focus on the large, graffiti-covered wall and surrounding area.
Building technique: Masonry and lime wall renders
Accommodation: In tents at the municipal sportsground, with access to toilets/showers and changing rooms. The sportsground is 10 minutes’ walk from the workcamp. Bring your own tent if you like.
Help out, in turn, with daily tasks (cooking, cleaning). Building work in the mornings, Mon-Fri. Free time in afternoons and weekends, with a choice of group excursions and activities.
Some ideas for excursions: Visits to picture-perfect Luberon villages, the Colorado Provençal ochre quarries, the Gorges d’Opedette, Avignon, Aix en Provence and the market at Apt.
A bit of history:
Mérindol lies in the heart of the Luberon regional nature park, with views over the River Durance floodplain, all the way to the Alpilles.
Built around its castle and protected by its ramparts, the village is thought to date back to the 13th century. No one really knows if Mérindol was destroyed by the plague or the wars in late medieval times, but by the early 15th century the village was deserted and unoccupied. Some families who converted to the Lutheran and Reformed faith quickly moved in and subsequently made Mérindol a symbol of Vaudois repression in Provence. In 1540, the Parliament in Aix ordered Mérindol to be razed to the ground. It was pillaged and set ablaze, just like 23 other villages in the Luberon.
Today, the town has expanded to the flat land on the plain, called “Les bastides” while all that remains of the old village are two sections of wall from the old castrum.
The Union APARE-CME organised a workcamp at Mérindol in 1992, in the area occupied by the castle and 18 years later the town and the UAC have once again teamed up, this time to safeguard the Lavoir de la Bonne Fontaine wash house. The wash-house sits in a quiet, shady spot where the locals regularly come to cool down in the summer months.