Half-way between Valence and Avignon, at the crossroads of four departments - Drôme, Ardèche, Gard and Vaucluse – between the sea and the mountains, Pierrelatte is a small Provençal town spreading out in the Rhône valley.
Pierrelatte was a possession of the Count of Provence, future Louis XVIII, and the last lord of Pierrelatte. In the Middle Ages it was a simple market town built around its castle – which was then destroyed by Richelieu.
Pierrelatte owes its name to the rock that shelters the old town - Petralatta (thrown rock) – which legend has it was a stone thrown by Gargantua. One day Gargantua was tired from his travels all over France and sat down for a while on Mont Ventoux to get his breath back and take a stone out of his shoe, which was causing him dreadful pain.
This little stone thrown out of the giant’s shoe in the middle of a vast plain gave rise to Petralatta, or Pierrelatte.
Today the Rock is used as the backdrop for an open air theatre, listed as an “artistic site”, which hosts symphonic concerts, plays and other events.
Protected from the mistral wind by its rock, Pierrelatte has preserved a few traces of its past. On the main square, "Place Jean-Louis Machon”, stands a postern (gate) which in olden times was the entrace to the town, through the defensive walls.
In the historic centre you will be able to admire the medieval Chapelle des Pénitents, the portal of the 16th century Maison Seigneuriale, and Rue d'Amour, a very narrow street with such a pretty name, and so typical of Provençal villages.
In the Middle Ages the “Love Courts” were held at the end of this street.
Pierrelatte is to be found in geography manuals because in the 1950s a canal was built from Donzère to Mondragon, 28 km long and 130 m wide...
Those who prefer animals will no doubt love the crocodile farm, where you can observe 500 crocodiles and giant tortoises in a huge heated glass-house planted with luxuriant vegetation; the only one of its kind in Europe !
What to see:
Chapelle des Pénitents (12th century), used for performances and activities.
Mid-19th century church.
Portal of the Maison Seigneuriale (1548).
The Clock Tower (1819).
Gargoyles (Rue Conti and Rue Jean Bringer).. Museum of Numismatics, History and Archaeology. Yvon Gueret Municipal Museum Archaeology, Palaentology,
Minerals and Prehistory,housed in the 18th century former prison.
A tour guide is available to the public at the Tourist Office for tours of the historic centre. The crocodile Farm:
In the Rhône valley 10 minutes drive from the A7 motorway (Bollène ou Montélimar Sud exits).
The crocodile farm is open every day of the year (including Sundays and bank holidays).
60 sports associations, from aikido to bicross including roller-blading and petanque,
angling and diving.
One of the largest markets in the region: Friday morning.