6 August 2016

Frédéric Mistral at Le Mas du Juge, Maillane (13)

Le Mas du Juge is just a little outside Maillane on the road to St-Rémy-de-Provence. Mas is a Provençal word for a farm-cum-house, and this name comes from the fact that a judge originally lived here, then a barrister, and the name just stuck because of the legal connection.

The plaque at the side of the house is written in Provençal and tells the reader that Frédéric Mistral (1830–1914) was born here, wrote his first published work Mirèio (Mireille) (the famous narrative poem) here, and left in September 1855 after the death of his father François, whom Frédéric said had made him a poet.

The mas had been in the Mistral family since 1803, and then passed to François on the death of his father Antoine in 1827. François's first wife Louise has died by this time, although the child from this relationship was Louis, Frédéric's half-brother. François then married Frédéric's future mother Adélaïde, who was the daughter of the mayor of Maillane. On his father's death, ownership of Le Mas du Juge passed to Louis.

What was the original kitchen, now a kind of museum dedicated to the life of Mistral here. There are many things of note, such as the fireplace, the photos of Mistral (including the famous outside shot of him sitting with Alphonse Daudet), and the three-person chair to the wall is a radassié, a typical Provençal piece of furniture of former times.

Several photos I took inside the kitchen turned out to be a little blurred so therefore not really publishable, although Mistral's cot is reasonably presentable.

Hen houses, and maybe a pig-pen?

Next to the kitchen were stables on the ground floor with hay fed through to the animals on the upper floor. The large lower rooms now serve as wedding receptions, etc. Walls and fixtures remain in keeping with the original layout.

And what a terrific view of the Alpilles in the background. Sophie Vulpian, the owner and distant relative of the Mistral family, gave us an obviously well-informed and very enthusiastic account of the farm where Mistral spent his early life, which evidently shaped his ideas for the rest of his literary life.


Finally, just at the entrance to the mas is a calvary, but not the original one which was lost but the one Sophie Vulvian and her parents built in 2008. The base has four sides: the north depicts a verse by Mistral hoping that the cross will bring peace and calm to those who pass; the east side welcomes visitors; the south side is a representation of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Grace; and the side turned towards Maillane represents Maillane's coat of arms with the fleurs de glais of which Mistral was fond as a child. Again, many thanks to Sophie for the information.

My other Frédéric Mistral related posts:

Pavillon de la Reine Jeanne
Frédéric Mistral in Maillane

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