The cemetery in the village of Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon brings the dry stone walls from the surrounding area into the burial site

Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes: cemetery in the village of Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon.Paul Cézanne: Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888-1890). Source: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/"target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a href=" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_license"target="_blank">Creative Commons License</a>

It lies at the foot of the Sainte Victoire massif, to which Cézanne dedicated more than 80 paintings

The small village of Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon in the south of France is nestled in a very special landscape: on one side, it has the Sainte Victoire mountain ridge, which seems to reach up into the sky out of nowhere, and on the other, an unobstructed view over Provence towards the Mediterranean. The painter Paul Cézanne was fascinated by the area and captured the mountain massif in more than 80 paintings, and even the Romans settled there. Aix-en-Provence is only a few kilometers away from the village.

According to the website, the municipality has 124 inhabitants and was down to 48 around 100 years ago but has its own cemetery. This now had to be extended, and the architecture firm Régis Roudil, based in Aix-en-Province, wanted to treat the old and new facilities and the surrounding area with sensitivity.

The aim was: “Every intervention had to be sensitive, restrained and sustainable,“ as the architects write. Metaphorically speaking, the planners wanted to integrate the landscape into the cemetery as a place for the dead and the bereaved.

Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes: cemetery in the village of Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon.Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes: cemetery in the village of Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon.

The defining element in their design are the outer walls of the grave site. They are 1.60 m high and 80 cm thick and consist entirely of chunks of Pierre de Rians limestone, which is quarried in the neighborhood and usually processed into gravel.

Such walls can be found everywhere in the area, they are ancient and support the terraces on the slopes. They are dry stone walls, piled up without mortar and leaning against the slope of the hillside.

At the new cemetery, however, some of them had to stand free. Which is why they have a core of mortar made of earthen material on the inside. Only on the outside are they genuine dry stone walls with unplastered joints.

Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes: cemetery in the village of Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon.

The entrance to the new complex is striking: the outer wall has been extended a few meters down the slope on two sides. The slope creates ramps that are suitable for people with limited mobility and invite them to enter.

The gates are designed as simple steel grilles.

An entrance for the cemetery workers with their machines is located as a portal on one side of the wall.

The cemetery is located just outside the village on the main road, which carries a lot of traffic to and from Aix-en-Provence. The hiking trails to climb the mountain massif start right next to it.

Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes

Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon

Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes: cemetery in the village of Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon.

(22.03.2024, USA: 03.22.2024)