The Panoramic View Over the Val d’Enfer (Valley of Hell)
Why is this place so important ?
The strange and fantastical rock falls in the Val d’Enfer have always fired up imaginations. This legendary site has been a source of inspiration for many writers, musicians, and film-makers.
Extending from the Fontaine valley, the Val d’Enfer plunges into the mountainside. It is famous for its molasse (soft sandstone) rocks with their strange, eroded forms. At dusk, many have equated them with the rocks and grottos in Dante’s ‘Hell’. Another great writer—who became a film-maker—, Jean Cocteau, used the natural scenery of the Val d’Enfer for his film Le Testament d’Orphée (The Testament of Orpheus) in 1959.
But the Val d’Enfer also provided the setting for the deadly fight between Vincent and Ourrias, Mireille’s rival suitors, in Charles Gounod’s opera, inspired by Frédéric Mistral’s work, Mirèio.
Erosion has carved out many grottos in the rocks of the Val d’Enfer. Some of them are now famous, such as the Lair of Taven, the witch in Frédéric Mistral’s work, and the spectacular Trau di Fado (The Fairies’ Hole).
Did you know?
Cardinal Richelieu set up camp in the Val d’Enfer in 1631, in order to raze the fortifications of Les Baux. This was the castle’s last war, and after a twenty-seven day siege, it fell into the hands of Louis XIII.