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History of Graveson


Saint-Eloi leafy cart


The procession of floats





> History of Graveson


The first inhabitants of Graveson…

Since several years, The “La Roque” site (known in the past as “Bellinto”), situated between the towns of Barbentane and Graveson, has seen very interesting gigs. Indeed, the traces of the first inhabitants of Graveson have been discovered there on an area that covers more than 10 hectares. Coins, pieces of pottery and cooking utensils have proven the presence of inhabitants from Prehistory. This place is rare because of its diversity (place of living protected by thick ramparts, place of worship, place of activity with small crafts, necropolis…) and its location (the site is situated high up at the edge of the Montagnette). The occupation of the site by people since Prehistory has been by proven by the discovery of cut flint and fragments of modelled ceramic.

The place has then been occupied more significantly during the 6th century BC. A more complex building system with stone foundation walls has been created at the end of the 6th century (beginning of the 5th century BC).

The Gallo-Roman period marked a definite longevity since the Roman presence will be continuous until the 5th century AD. This period is rich thanks to the numerous finds such as ceramics or coins. Road systems liking the different oppida were also discovered and particularly the famous Via Agrippa which linked Arles to Lyon.

After the Roman period, the site will become a necropolis where 26 graves were found out. The place will be abandoned for a long time before a period known as “Modern” (18th century). A rampart, a tower (6th century BC) and a well were discovered during digs. A beautiful white marble stele from the 1st century was found in 1793. It was part of a funeral monument and is nowadays shown in the Lapidaire Museum in Avignon.

Religion …

Graveson has always been attached to religion and faith. During the 12th century, the Archbishops of Arles and Avignon share the rights and revenues of a parish where the building of the Romanesque Church dedicated to Notre Dame de Grâce is finished. The counts of Provence having given up the plot of land to the Montmajour abbey, the community organised itself with syndics.

The church was built before the 11th century, on an antique place of worship, restructured and expanded many times. It takes up the same site since its origin. Attached to the seigniorial castle in the remote times, the two monuments are separated today by a large square. Its partial reconstruction and its enlargement in 1847-1848 (on a part of the old castle demolished at the French Revolution) make it one of the largest buildings in the county.

In that restoration, the Romanesque lancet arched nave from the 12th century and its Gothic bas-reliefs disappeared. However, the two apses chapels and the choir which supports the dome and the church tower were preserved.

The Romanesque apse of Graveson is part of a series of monuments which could be find in the whole 12th Provence, a period during which the apses were decorated with antique arches inspired by the Classical art. Few churches may pride in owning such beautiful artistic works such as the 17th-18th century canvasses (“Marie au pied de la croix/ Mary at the Foot of the Cross” or “Les âmes du Purgatoire/The souls of the Purgatory”…). The Church is very involved in local traditions: the Saint Eloi mass and the Pastrage ceremony held during the midnight mass are celebrated here.

The Golden Age: from the 18th century to nowadays...

This period can be described as “glorious” for Graveson. The town begins to gradually spread and increase; activities multiplied. Until the 18th century, the town had mostly remained inside the primitive surrounding wall. Only two districts developed outside the ramparts: the “Vieux Marseille” (Old Marseilles) in the east and “Lamanon” in the west. “The revolutionary laws will make estates pass from nobility and clergy to the members of the middle class. The end of the 18th century was a period during which the demographic and economic development is beneficial to the town. The biggest part of the area becomes farmable and irrigable which explains why faming extended (including gardening, horticulture, fruit farming…). “

The actual architecture of Graveson is very similar to the architecture of the town during these centuries: the elders have put us on the right scent of modernity with the Roubine (the little irrigation canal which was entirely covered), the Virgin (“They placed me here to be their guardian”), the Town Hall, the so familiar districts. The Square was created at the beginning of the 19th century when the ramparts were demolished. The big ornament stones can still be seen lined up on the edges.

At the end of the 19th century, the town rural world goes through many crises which will lead traditional farming to disappear. But thanks to the development of the road network, to the railway, to the irrigation by sinking, to the farming mechanization and to the creation of daily markets, farming will benefit from a dynamic reconversion.

Graveson enters the 20th century peacefully. During this century that comes to end and after many crises (in particular wars and farming major changes), the 4000 people town finds a dynamic into which the art of living is very important. Traditions are respected through the rediscovery of festival and a modernity which attracts younger and younger people.


Office de tourisme de Graveson - Musée Auguste Chabaud - Cours National - 13690 Graveson
Tel : 04 90 90 53 02 ou 04 90 95 88 44 - Mail :