History of a Royal Residence
The château, “Castrum” of “Barbentum” (latin) is mentioned for the first time in the year of 1064 in a property registration of the abbey Saint Victor de Marseille, at that time owners of the land.
In the 15th century the castle was a property of King René who sold it in the year of 1474 to Jean de Forbin. The fortress remained in the hands of the illustrious family for 500 years and amongst other happenings, sheltered the love affair of Princess Pauline Borghese, sister of Napoleon I, with his chamberlain: Auguste de Forbin, who later became curator of the royal museums and was a childhood friend to Marius Granet.
Modifications of the site have originated from a revolt against the Edict of the Elected emanating from Richelieu in 1630.
During the rebellion, a gang known as “Cascaveous”, which where advancing on La Barben, set fire to the forest and a part of the fortress.
King Louis XIII condemned the Aix communities, which had participated in this riot to give compensation to the Lord of La Barben. Gaspard de Forbin received 1500000 livras to restore his castle.
Thanks to Gaspard de Forbin, who was the first consul of Aix-en-Provence, Prosecutor of the region and faithful to Louis XIII, important parts of the feudal castle got rebuilt in the 17th century. (The Cascaveous had burnt these parts.)
During that time the Castle got transformed into a place of pleasure. The medieval fortress firmly encamped high on the rocks, took full advantage of the Age of the Enlightenment and became a castle where austerity and classicism got combined to give the building a unique picturesque charm.
Owed to the numerous stays from the famous painter Marius Granet, from the years of 1798, the decoration of two boudoirs and numerous other decorative elements have marked the castle in his memory.
In 1909 the region got shook by an earthquake destroying the west medieval "Palaméde" tower which after two years got reconstructed on the same rock.