Village Life - Eygalieres
The village of Eygali�res has the classic good looks of Provence. Make sure you enjoy its peace and quiet, says Sylvie Wheatley
Provence is the cradle of many beautiful villages and Eygali�res is undoubtedly one of them. Perched on a hilltop, surrounded by rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves, this commune is a haven of peace for its 1,600 inhabitants. But visitors are very welcome and it would be a shame to zoom past. Instead you must stop and enjoy, even for a short while, the tranquil atmosphere of the place.
Eygali�res is located in the d�partement of Bouches-du-Rh�ne, 10 kilometres southeast of renowned Saint-R�my-de- Provence and 15 kilometres from Les Baux-de-Provence. It sits at the foot of Les Alpilles, a small but utterly picturesque mountain range – the altitude of its highest point is at 493 metres – and rises above the La Durance river flowing below.
The village has retained its authentic features and boasts a number of tastefully restored stone houses. As well as being a pleasure to look at, the village is also a treat for your ears and nose, as sweetsmelling flowers abound and cicadas sing. The houses that make up the village are huddled close together and form a network of winding lanes. The main street takes you up to the village church and the ruins of a ch�teau. The Eygali�res local history museum, Mus�e Maurice Pezet, is also worth a visit. It can be found in the 17th-century Chapelle des P�nitents. On display is an interesting array of traditional agricultural tools. From the museum there are magnificent views towards La Montagne de la Caume, Les Alpilles and La Durance. Similar views can also be enjoyed from le Chemin de la Calade which leads past the chapel. If you happen to be visiting � v�lo, the Provence tourist office recommends that you cycle the pretty route from Eygali�res to nearby Aureille. Hikers, please note that Eygali�res is on the GR6 path; horseriders, you might want to visit Les Grandes Terres in Eygali�res and enjoy a promenade � cheval.
Fell in love Winemaker Christian Raimont, moved to Eygali�res 14 years ago and loves the place.
“I had this dream that one day I would be growing vines, and making wine and my life would evolve around wine. I discovered Eygali�res 14 years ago. I fell in love with the place and decided the time was right to my change life,” he says. “I bought le Domaine d’�ole, 20 hectares of exceptional vineyards with a terroir which I believe is blessed by the gods. The previous owners had set the business up in 1992 and called their cuv�e after their own daughter L�a. A young German oenologist who had graduated from Montpellier was in charge of their whole wine production process, starting with the tending of the vines. His name is Matthias Wimmer and he has stayed here to work with me. Together we try to combine tradition with innovation, and savoir faire with passion. Our aim is to produce the best wines we can out of a bouquet of different c�pages (grape types). We respect the soil, we are after quality rather than quantity, and our wines are appreciated around the world. Indeed half of it is drunk outside of France. We are very proud of what we achieve here.
“I live at the domain in a typical traditional house, une bastide, dating from the 18th century. From the house I have a view over the vineyards and Les Alpilles. I have no family nearby but I tell you, when you make wine, you have a lot of friends! I feel very much at home here, among the locals who I think know how to live and let live.
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“That’s what I really like about Eygali�res. The douceur de vivre is real. The villagers exude that quality of life, as well as friendship but also discretion. It is OK to live your life your way.
“The village changes with the seasons. The heat, the light, the smells differ from one season to the next, but you have to enjoy it all year round. This place is magical. It would be a sin not to embrace all it has to offer. In some ways it lives outside time, certainly outside modern tensions and temptations. If I had to leave Eygali�res I would miss the peace and the serenity that envelop the village. So I am staying here. There’s no doubt about that.”