Aubagne, Pagnol's country November 07 2018, 0 Comments

Welcome to Aubagne, city of Marcel Pagnol and Provençal identity. If you want to dive into the history of Provence and its traditions, Aubagne is clearly worth the visit, the city attracts people of every age and delights those who just come there by chance!  

By visiting Aubagne you will discover a modern Provence town which also promotes its heritage and traditions. Aubagne is known in France and beyond our borders as the birthplace of Marcel Pagnol.

They are a lot of various activities done for everybody and all ages. During a guided tour of the old centre, you will learn more about Marcel Pagnol and the origin of the famous ceramic cicadas. For nature lovers, a walk or a bicycle ride to the foot of the Garlaban is a must. So what are you willing to visit in Aubagne during your stay in Provence?


Town of Aubagne:

 Aubagne, is a town located in the valley of Huveaune, close to Marseille, the Sainte-Baume mountain and especially Garlaban. 

Aubagne is the city where Marcel Pagnol was born in 1895. His birthplace is located in the heart of Aubagne and can be visited. Calisson by Gilles will write a dedicated section in this article on the way to follow on the traces of Marcel Pagnol. It is also here, in Aubagne, that the lucky cicada in ceramic by Louis Sicard was invented in 1895 (the same year!). He later founded the company owning his name “la Maison Sicard”. 

The city has many ceramic craftsmen and “santonniers” (craftsmen of the Provencal nativity scene figurines). The inhabitants of Aubagne are called the Aubagnais and its population reach 46 000 inhabitants (ranked the 5th most populous city in the Bouches-du-Rhône). 


The story of Marcel Pagnol:

"I was born in the city of Aubagne, under the Garlaban crowned with goats in the days of the last goatherds." This is the first sentence of the novel of Marcel Pagnol called La Gloire de mon père (“The Glory of my father”), the first book of the series of 3 books which relate the memories of his childhood. Aubagne, located about 10 miles North East of Marseille, is the starting point for an immersion in Provencal culture, a happy and bucolic walk in the footsteps of the child of Provence, Marcel Pagnol. 

Marcel Pagnol was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. Regarded as an auteur in 1946, he became the first filmmaker elected to the Académie Française (French Academy is an institution in charge of perfecting, fixing and regulating the French language). Marcel Pagnol is still seen as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, he became famous because he excelled in almost every field such as novel, drama and movies.

Marcel, son of Joseph, teacher and Augustine, seamstress, was born February 28, 1895 in a 19th century house, located at number 16 of the Barthélemy street in Aubagne. Aubagne and surroundings areas are the cradles of his childhood memories which have fed all the literary and cinematographic works of Marcel Pagnol.  

If you want to discover the world of Marcel Pagnol, Calisson by Gilles has selected for you the highlights of Marcel Pagnol’s legacy. 

Main Works

Marcel Pagnol's plays
1929. Marius..
1931. Fanny.
1946. César.

1957. My Father's Glory (Childhood Memories part I)
1957. My Mother's Castle (Childhood Memories part II)
1959. The Time of Secrets (Childhood Memories part III)

Movies directed by Marcel Pagnol
1954. Les Lettres de mon Moulin. (Letters from my mill)
1967. Le Curé de Cucugnan. Téléfilm. (The priest of Cucugnan)

Best success: 

According to Calisson by Gilles, one of the best success of Marcel Pagnol is Marius and we advise you to watch the movie if you want to discover the charming Provence of a bygone era and dive in the beautiful universe of Marcel Pagnol.

Marius with Raimu in the role of Caesar has been a smashing success. Theater, cinema, literature, Marius triumphed everywhere; and in all languages. 

Marius is one of the first successes of the French speaking cinema. Fanny followed very quickly.


The legacy that Marcel Pagnol has left to Provence is so rich and deep. The new cinema industry helped Marcel Pagnol bring the “Provençal way of life” to the world. Marcel Pagnol and the proudness of being of Provence is still here and we can say that there is a little bit of Marcel Pagnol in each Provençal (inhabitant of Provence). He put lyrics to everything which was precious on its own. 

If you have the opportunity to read one of his novels, pick up either My Father's Glory or My Mother's Castle. You will feel Provence, totally steeped in every line. Take a ride in this unique region, a century ago. Line after   line, you will discover a Provence made of seasons, scents, memories, tastes, feelings and emotion. The Calisson is part of this heritage, Calisson by Gilles is proud and honored of being a living symbol of this tradition which has never changed. It is incredible when you taste one of our Calisson and think that other people, including Marcel Pagnol in the past have experienced this candy and enjoyed it a lot. Like you today ! 


Le massif du Garlaban

The Garlaban mountain, 750 meters high, was home of lookouts in charge of warning the population of enemy attacks. The name of this hill very dear to Marcel Pagnol would come from the combination of "guard of Albania" 

If you want to visit the places that inspired Marcel Pagnol, then take the path of his “dear hills" in the Garlaban mountain which dominates Aubagne. It is there, between Aubagne, La Treille and Marseille, that the young Marcel lived the adventures related throughout the Memories of Childhood.

It is in these landscapes of garigue that Marcel Pagnol, as a filmmaker, bought in 1934 a domain of 24 hectares (60 acres) to make, according to his own words: a Provencal Hollywood! There, he shot several of his films, including Angèle (1934), Regain (1937) and Manon des Sources (1952). 

Calisson by Gilles has selected the good spots of Aubagne and the very best of Pagnol within this area, whether you're visiting the area for a weekend or several days, you will get what you are looking for.

To begin, visit the house where Marcel Pagnol was born. This apartment from the end of the 19th century located at 16 Cours Barthélemy in Aubagne has been restored to immerse visitors in the atmosphere of the Pagnol family. You will also enjoy an exhibition space and a projection room. Guided tours are organized every Saturday.

The village of La Treille was a summer holiday place for the Pagnol’s family and very dear to Marcel Pagnol. It is on the square of this village that the young Marcel was photographed alongside his father holding “bartavelles” (rock partridge). Marcel Pagnol is buried in the small cemetery of this village. If you visit the cave of Manon (used by Marcel Pagnol in the movie Manon des Sources), Calisson by Gilles also suggest you to visit the cave of the Deer right above. Marcel Pagnol built there a small basin to collect spring water and immortalize it with his handprints which still remain. 

During your stay in Aubagne, stroll through the food and horticultural markets that are held four days a week at the downtown square, always furnished with local products. Take a break at 11:00 am and enjoy and Janot pastis taste, the pastis of Aubagne. This pastis is distilled here in Aubagne in the Janot distillery. 

The famous French elite military unit named “Légion Etrangère” (Foreign Legion) has several regiments stationed in Aubagne and you can visit its Museum. There is an exhibition until January 2019 called "" Zinoview – Cendrars which were 2 legionnaires in the Great War (1st WW). The latter puts into perspective the drawings of the painter Alexander Zinoview and the writings of the writer Blaise Cendrars, engaged in the Legion during the First World War and gives you a unique look at the life of legionaries. 



About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.