We visit Salon-de-Provence: a very pleasant town in Provence located about 35 km west of Aix-en-Provence and 40 km east of Arles, relatively close to the National Park of Camargue. The town has a nice old center with dominating Château de l'Emperi castle. Famous Nostradamus worked and lived here. Salon-de-Provence also appeared in the well-known comedy "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" - the main character, Philippe Abrams, lived here at the beginning.
We park on a relatively small, paid parking lot next to the bus station, near the center of the town (P1; GPS: 43.639445, 5.093270). In case of trouble with free places you can try to park in the parking lot at Place du Général de Gaulle (P2; GPS: 43.642093, 5.094702) located on the north side of the old town. If you parked on the first one, then you have just to walk about 400 meters, first the Boulevard Maréchal Foch and then (already in the old town) the Rue Moulin d'Isnard to find yourself in a small square on Rue de l'Horloge (A; GPS: 43.640708, 5.097452), where you will find first elements associated with Nostradamus.
In fact, no one really knows who Nostradamus really was. Formally he was a physician and mathematician and also an adviser to Catherine of Medina. However, almost everybody associates him with a series of prophecies related to the future of our world. Nostradamus was born in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. So far in the old quarter you can see his house - we showed it on one of our previous videos. His life was quite turbulent (among others he fought plague, traveled France and Italy), but finally he settled in Salon-de-Provence and here wrote the prophecies, living peacefully among his wise books and loving family. Did these prophecies actually work or did the people just match events to them? It is hard to say, especially since they are in the form of poems containing a lot of metaphor, so their understanding by definition is not easy.
In the small square at Rue de l'Horloge there is a statue of Nostradamus - quite modern in its appearance, but that's why it's quite impressive. We can also see the restaurant "Nostradamus", and his big image created on the wall of the building. From the square leads a short alley, called Rue Nostradamus, where we can find the house (B; GPS: 43.640886, 5.097624) where he lived. There is a museum right now. We weren't inside, but apparently it is interesting only for those people who know nothing about Nostradamus and the era in which he lived. Also the ticket prices are not the cheapest: normal tickets: 5.10 €; reduced: 3.30 €. Allegedly on every first Sunday of the month the entrance is free :).
We continue our stroll in the southern direction. Next to the building with the image of Nostradamus we turn left and we are already in the Saint Michel square (C; GPS: 43.640409, 5.098002), where we find the church of Saint Michael from 13th century which combines Romanesque and Provençal-Gothic styles. On the right we have the Château de l'Emperi, but we will visit it later. Now we go down the Rue du Bourg Neuf passing on the left side the Place de la Révolution with a nice monument, and finally we exit the Porte du Bourg Neuf (D; GPS: 43.640961, 5.099038) to the main representative street surrounding the old town (Cours Victor Hugo). Approximately 20 meters from the gate, on the other side of the street (E; GPS: 43.640716, 5.099237) we can see an interesting monument (and also the fountain) of Adam Craponne, Renaissance engineer, born in Salon-de-Provence in 1526. Exactly opposite the monument there is a beautiful building where the seat of the local government (the mayor) is located. Going down the street about 200 meters in the left direction we reach the Crousillat Square with a very interesting Moussue fountain (F; GPS: 43.641597, 5.097069), known also as the Great Fountain. To tell the truth, we first time encountered something like this. The fountain is a living green fungus from which the water flows. The fountain was already on the square in the sixteenth century, but the visual effect appeared in the second half of the twentieth century as a result of impact the water, moss and vegetation on the limestone. On Crousillat Square there is another beautifully decorated entrance gate to the old town (Porte de l'Horloge, G; GPS: 43.641408, 5.096984). After going through it and a short walk we reach the square with the Nostradamus monument from which we started our stroll :).
After visiting the old town, we go upstairs a small hill where the oldest in Provence, a 9th century castle (GPS: 43.639796, 5.097487) is located. It was for a long time the place where the archbishops of Arles resided, and then t went under the control of the kings of France. In 1909 it was seriously damaged during the earthquake, but it was rebuilt and now houses a military art and history museum, including collections of old weapons and uniforms, with particular emphasis on the Napoleonic era. If you want to visit it, you must pay 5€ for a normal ticket or 3.20€ for a reduced ticket (the museum is closed on Mondays). We went through the main gate to a large square, and then walked towards the inner courtyard with mini-stands (as you can see, there have to be various cultural events). Then we headed for the second courtyard where we were surprised to find a garden with various plants.
Being in Salon-de-Provence you can also visit a mini-town Grans located just 5 km south of it. The village is very quiet and peaceful. We parked the car on a large parking lot (P3; GPS: 43.608700, 5.066780) and then walked about 400 meters towards the miniature center, which consists of Saint-Anne Square and the church (I; GPS: 43.606910, 5.063453). However, the center is surrounded by interesting, beautifully decorated tenement houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, which are really worth a look. Then you can cross the small stream to get to the other side of the town (J; GPS: 43.608139, 5.062809) and walk its narrow streets. If you want, you can also take a little longer walk to see the nearby water mill from 17th century - the Moulin Saint Joseph (K; GPS: 43.605166, 5.070807) - it's located only 700 meters from the parking lot we used.