The village of Oppède, near Cavaillon, got its own Olive Oil Museum this summer. Set up by the Hugues family – winemakers at the Domaine de la Royère since 1986, it showcases the age-old art of oil milling in an engaging, true-to-life exhibition.
Domaine de la Royère
Domaine de la Royère was a family inheritance that Anne and Jean-Pierre Hugues took over in 1986. Now stretching over 33 hectares around Oppède, the estate produces white, rosé and red Luberon and Vaucluse AOC wines (transitioning towards organic since 2017), a natural sweet wine and a spirit made from Provence marc.
The Hughes planted an olive grove to produce oil from the Royère mill in the 2000s, and now tend six hectares of trees in the area around Oppède.
In tandem with this new venture, the enterprising Jean-Pierre and Anne began collecting the traditional tools and accessories that millers used in the old days.
The Olive Oil Museum
The 300 sqm Olive Oil Museum opened in summer 2019, taking visitors on a journey of discovery through this important aspect of Mediterranean culture. Discover the history of how olive oil is produced, and the millers’ art of extracting the “green gold”, in a varied collection of antique accoutrements displayed in a modern, interactive museum setting (soundscape, screens and projections, plus audioguides soon to come). The exhibition was designed by Saluces in Avignon, a consultancy that’s been involved in creating exhibits in many of France’s museums.
The visit lasts about half an hour, and takes in a fascinating array of objects. There are the 18th-century glazed jars with wooden covers, which people used to bury to preserve the oil; antique presses ranging from little family-sized ones to a huge hundred-year-old oil press, and those curious items known as “consciences” – jars with rope handles that monks wore around their necks from the 15th century onwards, going from house to house begging for a little oil for the needy. Curiosities abound in this treasure trove of interesting olive oil-related objects.
But the true centrepiece is a magnificent Corsican oil mill dating from the 1930s, still in its original condition. Jean-Pierre Hughes set himself the daunting task of transporting it from Corsica, piece by piece, then rebuilding it for his museum. Now showcased in an atmospheric display, it recreates all the old-fashioned charm of this traditional industry.
Alongside the estate’s own wines and oils, the shop also carries a great selection of Mediterranean products like utensils made of olive wood, traditional tapenades (olive pastes), soaps, honey, biscuits and other olive-based delicacies – all locally produced.
- Open daily from 9 am to 6 pm – closed on Sundays from October to March.
- Allow 45 minutes for the museum visit and tasting of wines and olive oils.
- Free parking
- Self-guided, audioguide will be available soon.
- Prices: Adult €6.50 / Child €4.50 (under 16) / Free for under 3yo
Groups (8 to 45 people), upon reservation:
Guided tour of the museum (French/English): €4.50
Tour of the museum + visit of the wine cellar + tasting of 3 wines:
- €12/pers. (lasts 1h30)
- €22/pers. (including savoury snacks, lasts 2h)
Toutes photos © Musée de l’Huile d’Olive