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Adam de Craponne was born in Salon de Provence in 1526 and died in 1576 in Nantes. He has been one of the greatest engineers of his time. Gifted and inventive in the field of military fortifications he really showed all his talents in the field of water flow. Known as the Benefactor of Provence his lifetime goal had been to drain the unhealthy swampy areas around Arles and to irrigate the dry lands around Salon en Provence.

This exceptional engineer will successfully complete the first part of his project on the 20th of April 1559 when he diverts part of the flow of the Durance River with a 23km long canal. The water abstracted between Saint-Esteve-Janson and La Roque-d’Anthéron flows through the Craponne canal up to Lamanon.From there, his project was to divide the canal into ywo branches. The first one was meant to irrigate Salon and the neighbouring communities. The second branch flowing along the northern edge of the Crau plain should have irrigated an area lying between Eyguières and up to Arles. Unfortunately in his lifetime Adam de Craponne will only see the completion of the first branch, the second one will only be completed during the 18th century and be known as the canal “des Alpilles”. This allowed the land around Salon to develop its field crops particularly the growing of olive trees which then constituted the main resource of the area.

Adam de Craponne has never been in a position to undertake the second part of his project i.e. draining the swamps between Arles and Tarascon but he left all his plans to do so.

The engineer passes away in 1576 in Nantes. His death will remain a mystery forever; according to some he was poisoned by other engineers jalous of his successes as he was designing a new canal at the request of King Henri the 3rd.

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