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Aulan (Municipality, Drôme, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-27 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Aulan

The municipality of Aulan (4 inhabitants in 2006; 1,055 ha) is located in Upper Provence, 25 km east of Buis-les-Baronnies. The Baronnies region is an hilly area quite isolated from urban centers and main roads, which experienced a dramatic demographic decrease in the 20th century. The population of Aulan decreased from 125 inhabitants in 1789 to 60 in 1901, 25 in 1931 and 10 in 1975.

Ivan Sache, 15 December 2011


Flag of Aulan castle

[Flag of Aulan castle]

Flag of Aulan castle - Image by Ivan Sache, 15 December 2011

The Aulan castle was originally built in the 12th century on the site of a Gallo-Roman oppidum (fortified camp) dominating the entrance of the gorges of river Toulourenc. The lords of Mévouillon used it as a fortress, communicating with their headquarters via optical signals; ruined, Raymond IV of Mévouillon (d. 1274) sold Aulan in 1243 to his neighbor Hugh of Montbrun. The next owners of the castle, the Suarez, transformed the fortress into a cosy manor, which was eventually looted and destroyed during the French Revolution.
Louis de Suarez d'Aulan (1804-1878) and his son Arthur (1833-1915), Napoléon III's esquire, rebuilt the castle in the 19th century. The Suarez are considered as the local benefactors of the region: they founded the spa of Montbrun-les-Bains and introduced Austrian pines to reafforest the hills threatened by erosion. Completed in 1914, the castle was looted and ruined again during the First World War.
In 1933, Marquis Jean Suarez d'Aulan (killed on 8 October 1944 when piloting an aircraft of the Free French Air Force), invited his cousin, the young Charles de Suarez (1910-2004), Count of Aulan, to restore the castle, which had lost all of its furniture, most of its roof and some of its wall. For years, the count rebuilt the castle and regrew the surrounding plots. The writer Jean Giono (1895-1970) visiting the castle in 1935, was impressed by the Count, "who made hay together with the farmers and purchased stones for his castle." The poet René Char (1907-1988) moved in winter 1944 to the castle the headquarters of the anti-German resistance regional organization he led as "Captain Alexandre". Charles Suarez himself joined the resistance maquis in Mount Ventoux and enrolled in 1944 in the regular French army; for his heroic behavior during the Battle of the Rhine, he was awarded the War Cross by General Koenig. The writer Albert Camus (1913-1960, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957) planned to rent the castle as a calm place where he would finish his book Le dernier homme; the car accident that claimed his life prevented him to complete his project. Charles de Suarez, also a noted local historian and genealogist eventually restored the castle, mostly with his own funds, and opened it to public visits. Until his death, he guided himself the visitors among his art collections, his family museum and a gallery dedicated to local artists.

Source: Le Comte Charles Suarez d'Aulan, Le Dauphiné Libéré, September 1998

The flag hoisted over the Aulan castle (photo, 7 May 2011) is horizontally divided blue-yellow-white-blue.
This flag is most probably derived from the arms of the Suarez d'Aulan family (genealogy), "Azure a tower argent ensigned with an eagle displayed crowned or".

Dominique Cureau & Ivan Sache, 15 December 2011