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For the wine, see Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC.
Village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.JPG
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is located in France
Coordinates: 44°03′25″N 4°49′55″E / 44.0569°N 4.8319°E / 44.0569; 4.8319Coordinates: 44°03′25″N 4°49′55″E / 44.0569°N 4.8319°E / 44.0569; 4.8319
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Department Vaucluse
Arrondissement Avignon
Canton Orange-Ouest
Intercommunality Pays de Rhône et Ouvèze
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Claude Avril
 • Land1 25.85 km2 (9.98 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 • Population2 2,146
 • Population2 density 83/km2 (220/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 84037 / 84230
Elevation 20–130 m (66–427 ft)
(avg. 117 m or 384 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
The earliest depiction of the village dates from the second half of the 17th century.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. The village lies about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to the east of the Rhône and 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) north of the town of Avignon.

A ruined mediaeval castle sits at the top of the village and dominates the landscape to the south. It was built in the 14th century by Pope John XXII, the second of the popes who resided in Avignon. The commune is famous for the production of red wine and almost all the cultivable land is planted with vines.


The first mention of the village is in a Latin document from 1094 in which the name Castro Novo is used. The term castrum or castro in the 11th century was used to denote a fortified village, rather than a castle (castellum). The current French name of "Châteauneuf" (English: "New Castle") is derived from this early Latin name and not from the ruined 14th century castle that towers above the village. Just over a century later in 1213 the village was referred to as Castronovum Calcernarium. Other early documents use Castronovo Caussornerio or Castrum Novum Casanerii. The official French name became Châteauneuf Calcernier. The word 'Calcernier' can be explained by the presence of important lime kilns in the village. Calcernarium is derived from the Latin calx for lime and cernere meaning sift or sieve. From the 16th century the village was often referred to as "Châteauneuf du Pape" or "Châteauneuf Calcernier dit de Pape", because of the connection with Pope John XXII, but it was not until 1893 that the official name was changed from "Châteauneuf Calcernier" to "Châteauneuf-du-Pape".[1][2]


Early settlement[edit]

The earliest settlement is believed to have been near the Chapel Saint-Théodoric, to the east of the centre of the present village. This Romanesque chapel was erected by the monks of the abbey of Saint-Théodoric in Avignon at the end of the 10th or the beginning of the 11th century and is the oldest building in the commune.[3] Although the village lay within the Comtat Venaissin, it was one of the fiefs of the bishop of Avignon and thus had a special status.[4][a]

In the second half of the 11th century a fortified village was built higher up the hill by the Viscount Rostaing Béranger in the fiefdom of his brother, the bishop of Avignon. The wall of the present church building formed part of the fortification and the arrowslits in the clock tower are still visible. Two towers and other vestiges of these early fortifications have survived.[5] The new village would have contained a suitable fortified residence for the bishop which is believed to have been located between the church and the site of the later castle. In the 14th century it would have accommodated Pope Clement V when he stayed in the village.[6]

In 1238 the bishop of Avignon obtained an important privilege from the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (r. 1195-1250). Salt that was shipped on the Rhône and landed at Châteauneuf was not subject to tax. As a result the trade in salt became a considerable source of revenue for the village.[7]

Avignon popes[edit]

Bertrand de Got, archbishop of Bordeaux, was elected pope in 1305, and took the name of Clement V. He transferred the papacy to Avignon in 1309.[8] The register of pontifical letters reveals that Clement V resided in Châteauneuf-du-Pape on several occasions, sometimes for long periods. In 1312 he stayed in the village from 6-22 November, in 1313 from 9 May until 1 July and again from 19 October until 4 December. The following year, 1314, he stayed from 24-30 March. He died in the castle of Roquemaure, on the other side of the Rhône, on 7 April 1314.[8]

The following pope, Jacques Dèze, was elected in 1316, and took the name of John XXII. He had served as the bishop of Avignon between 1310 and 1313 and as bishop had been the seigneur of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He had arranged for his nephew, Jacques de Via, to succeed him as bishop but on the death of Jacques de Via in 1317, John XXII did not appoint a successor and thus during his papacy the village depended directly on the pope. John XXII initiated a large number of building projects. These included the extension of the Palais des Papes in Avignon as well as defensive castles at Barbentane, Bédarrides, Noves and Sorgues. In 1317, work began on the construction of the castle in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. John XXII would derive little benefit from the new castle as it was only completed in 1333, one year before his death. The ruins of the castle are now a prominent feature of the village.[9]

The next Avignon pope, Benedict XII, (1334-1342), is not recorded as having ever stayed in the castle, but in 1335 he granted the village the right to have a ship mill on the Rhône, a market every Tuesday and two fairs during the year. He appointed a new bishop of Avignon in 1336.[10] None of the following three popes stayed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape but after the schism of the Catholic Church in 1378, the Avignon antipope Clement VII frequently sought the security of the castle and from 1385 to 1387 had important improvements carried out to the building.[11]

In the 14th century, the presence of the papacy in Avignon and the construction of the castle brought considerable prosperity to the village. The economy was based on agriculture, but the villagers also possessed lime kilns and the local merchants supplied roof tiles for the Palais des Papes in Avignon and floor tiles for the castle in Barbentane.[12] The village outgrew the ramparts constructed in the middle of the 11th century and many buildings were constructed outside the walls. In 1381 the village obtained permission to impose a local tax to fund the construction of a new system of fortifications around the village. The defensive towers have all disappeared other than Portalet tower in the Rue des Papes but parts of the walls remain.[13]

Château de Lhers[edit]

Drawing of the Chateau de Lhers by Étienne Martellange, 1616

The ruined castle of Lhers[b] sits on a limestone outcrop, 3.2 km (2.0 mi) west of the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape on the left bank of the Rhône.[c] Up to the 18th century there was a village of Lhers associated with the castle. The village is mentioned (as Leris) for the first time in a document dated 913 in which Louis the Blind, Count of Provence, gave the castle, one (or two) churches, the port on the Rhône and the land of the parish, to Fouquier,[d] the bishop of Avignon. In 916, Bishop Fouquier gave the churches, the port and the parish to the churches of Notre-Dame et Saint-Étienne in Avignon. Neither the castle nor the income from the tolls collected from boats using the Rhône are mentioned in this document.[15]

The plan of the castle was approximately square (25 m x 23 m), with a round tower at the southeast corner and a square tower at the northwest corner. The north side of the outcrop drops away vertically and there was no defensive wall. A deep well was in the northeast corner. A drawing by Étienne Martellange shows the appearance of the castle in 1616.[16]

The architecture of the square tower suggests that it was built after the end of the 12th century. Only the ground floor survives. The round tower is later and was probably built at the end of the 14th or beginning of the 15th century. The surviving ruins therefore do not date from the 10th century when the castle is first mentioned in written records. The limestone blocks of the earlier castle were no doubt reused to construct the actual castle.[17]

Almost nothing survives of the two churches mentioned in the early documents. The church of Sainte-Marie was destroyed during the Revolution. The ruins were visible until the canalization of the Rhône in the 1970s. The other church, dedicated to the Saints Cosmas and Damian, was probably the earlier of the two. It is mentioned in a papal bull issued in 1138 by Pope Adrian IV that confirmed that the bishop of Avignon possessed the fief of Lhers. The church is mentioned again in another document from 1560.[18]


Although viticulture in the area goes back at least to the 11th century, there were important developments from the 14th century during the time of Pope John XXII, the second Avignon pope, who ordered the construction of the castle. Wine production expanded in the 18th century with the rapid development of the wine trade. From the correspondence of the Tulle family who owned a vineyard in the commune, we learn that the 40 hectolitres of wine produced was exported to England, Italy, Germany and all over France. In 1923, the local wine producers led by the lawyer Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié began a campaign to establish legal protection for the wine from the commune.[19]

The wine classified as Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC is produced from grapes grown in the commune of Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as in portions of four of the adjoining communes in the Vaucluse department: Bédarrides, Courthézon, Orange and Sorgues. Unlike its northern Rhône neighbours, for red wines Châteauneuf-du-Pape permits thirteen different varieties of grape but the blend must be predominantly Grenache. In 2010 the vineyards covered an area of approximately 3,200 ha with 320 producers. The average annual production is around 100,000 hectolitres of which 95 percent is red.[19]

Twin towns[edit]

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is twinned with:[20]


  1. ^ The bishop of Avignon also had the fiefs of Gigognan and Bédarrides.[4]
  2. ^ The name of the castle has been spelled in a number of different ways. Latin documents use Leris and Lertio whereas French documents use L'airs, Lair, L'ers, l'Hers and Lher.[14]
  3. ^ The coordinates of the Château de Lhers are 44°3′14.9″N 4°47′29.9″E / 44.054139°N 4.791639°E / 44.054139; 4.791639.
  4. ^ The name of the bishop (Fulcherius in Latin) is also written as Foulques


  1. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 15, 21-23.
  2. ^ "Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Châteauneuf-du-Pape". École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS). Retrieved 24 June 2014. .
  3. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 17, 285-286.
  4. ^ a b Portes 1993, p. 21.
  5. ^ Portes 1993, p. 251.
  6. ^ Portes 1993, p. 253.
  7. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 26-27.
  8. ^ a b Portes 1993, p. 27.
  9. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 28-29.
  10. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 29-30.
  11. ^ Portes 1993, p. 30.
  12. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 31-34.
  13. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 265-269.
  14. ^ Portes 1993, p. 269.
  15. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 269-271.
  16. ^ Portes 1993, p. 271.
  17. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 269-277.
  18. ^ Portes 1993, pp. 271-272.
  19. ^ a b "Cahier des charges de l’appellation d’origine contrôlée « CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE » homologué par le décret n°2011-1567 du 16 novembre 2011, JORF du 19 novembre 2011". République Française: Ministère de l'agriculture, de l'agroalementaire et de la fôret. 2011. pp. 362–372 (pages unnumbered). Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  20. ^ "Jumelages" (in French). Marie de Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  • Portes, Jean-Claude (1993). Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Mémoire d'un village (in French). Avignon: Alain Barthélemy. ISBN 978-2-87923-031-3. 
Further reading
  • Gagnière, Sylvain; Granier, J. (1972-1973). "Les carrelages du Château de Jean XXII à Châteauneuf-du-Pape". Mémoire de l'Académie de Vaucluse (in French) 7: 29–62. 
  • Perrot, R.; Garnier, J. (1972). "Recherches historiques et archéologiques sur le château de Lhers, commune de Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Vaucluse)". Mémoire de l'Académie de Vaucluse (in French) 6: 43–122. 
  • Rendu, Victor (1857). "Vignobles de Chateauneuf du Pape". Ampélographie Française comprenant la statistique: la description des meilleurs cépages, l'analyse chimique du sol et les procédés de culture et de vinification des principaux vignobles de la France (in French). Paris: V. Masson. pp. 101–111. 

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