InspireKeith Van SickleProvencal History & Traditions

Visit The Jean Moulin Museum in Saint-Andiol for WWII History in Provence

There is an excellent small museum in the Alpilles village of Saint-Andiol. The museum’s archive recounts the life of World War II hero Jean Moulin, and it is well worth a visit.

For those unfamiliar with him, Jean Moulin is the man who unified the French Resistance before being captured by the Nazis. Despite being tortured and beaten, Moulin never revealed any secrets. Today, his ashes are in the Pantheon in Paris, the final resting place of France’s greatest heroes, and his name is found throughout the country—only de Gaulle and Pasteur have more streets named after them.

Jean Moulin museum FB

©Musée Jean Moulin de Saint-Andiol – Facebook Page

The museum follows Moulin’s life from childhood through his time in the Pantheon. It is in Saint-Andiol because of his strong connection to the village. While he was born in nearby Bezièrs, his parents were from Saint-Andiol, and he spent many summers there.

Jean Moulin’s Childhood

Here are many photos of young Jean. I couldn’t help but notice his dark eyes and penetrating look, which you also see in his photos as an adult.

Jean Moulin

©Wikipedia Public Domain

We also learn some surprising things, like that he both spoke and wrote Provençal and was a mediocre student! Given his successful career in government, I certainly didn’t expect this.

He was also a talented sketch artist. Later in life, as a government official, he had some of his work published. But he didn’t use his real name because it might be considered unbecoming for his role. Instead, he used the pen name Romanin, taken from a nearby château that he admired.

Moulin’s Early Career

We next see Moulin, a government employee, moving up the ranks. He had a brilliant career, first as the youngest sous-préfet and later as the youngest préfet in France (a préfet is the top government official in a region.) This speaks to Moulin’s talents as an administrator because even in law school, he was not much of a student.

We also learn that Moulin was briefly married to a wealthy Parisian socialite. The marriage ended when she became bored with life away from the big city.

WWII Nazis Invade

When the Nazis invaded France, Moulin was one of only three préfets who did not abandon his post. But he was arrested in 1940 when he refused to sign a false declaration blaming Senegalese soldiers for atrocities committed by the Nazis. Beaten and thrown in prison, and afraid that he might be forced to act dishonourably, Moulin attempted suicide by cutting his throat with a piece of glass. He was found and treated but frequently wore a scarf afterwards to hide his scars.

Jean-Moulin Resistance Leader

©Marcel Bernard

Sometime after his suicide attempt, Moulin escaped from France and met Charles de Gaulle in London. De Gaulle charged him with unifying the different groups in France that were resisting the Nazis. Using the code name Rex, he was to parachute into the Alpilles mountains near Saint-Andiol under cover of darkness.

An Air Jump

Now we come to the most dramatic part of the museum. There is a short tunnel made to look like the inside of a plane, where you hear its motor and see the cargo bay doors below you. A voice can be heard—one of the men parachuted with Moulin, describing what happened that night. Then you see the bay doors open and the Alpilles mountains passing below you before. Finally, several men jump out of the plane. The voice is in French, and it can be hard to hear over the engine noise, but it still helps you feel the moment’s drama.

Jean Moulin French Resistance

That night, Moulin walked part of the way to Saint-Andiol before finding shelter in a stone hut outside of Eygalières (you can visit this today). The next day, he made it to Saint-Andiol along a route today marked Route de Jean Moulin / Chemin de la liberté.

The museum includes the recording of an interview with his younger cousin, who described what happened when Moulin showed up after his long walk. The roads had been deserted, and her mother exclaimed, “Where did you come from? It’s like you fell out of the sky!” Moulin’s reply: “Yes, you might say that.”

Building the Resistance

The next part of the museum recounts how Moulin slowly organized the different resistant groups, some of which hated each other, into the National Council of the Resistance. And it describes the fateful night when he was betrayed and arrested, along with other Resistance leaders. And we learn of his torture and death.

Additional reading: Discover the Women of the French Resistance in the Alpilles.

A Hero’s Farewell

The museum finishes with a video showing Moulin’s induction into the Pantheon, one of the most famous French speeches of the 20th century. The speech’s text in English can be found here.

Visiting the Museum

Hours: The museum is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9:30 to 12:00 and from 2:00 to 5:00. There is a small parking lot in front of the museum.
Fees: Admission is 7€, and audioguides are an additional 3€.
Website (Facebook Page)


Please share this with friends and family.

All rights reserved. Perfectly Provence articles and other content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten (including translations into other languages) or redistributed without written permission. For usage information, please contact us.
Syndication Information
Affiliate Information
As an Amazon Associate, this website earns from qualifying purchases. Some recipes, posts and pages may have affiliate links. If you purchase via these links, we receive a small commission that does not impact your price. Thank you in advance for supporting our work to maintain Perfectly Provence.
Previous post

2024 Summer Festivals in Provence & Cote d'Azur

Next post

The Book of Rosé about Château d’Esclans Vineyard and its Famous Wines

Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.