Tuesday, 6 March 2012

At home where my heart is



"...Today, we're taking our readers to our hometown, whether it be where we live now and consider home or the place we grew up. Each of us will try to show you what we particularly love about our city and tell you things you may not know. The little-known cafe, shop, grocer and place which makes our town unique and special to those who know it well."  Marsha


When I first visited the Périgord in 1984, already during driving
the last hour through the wide-open and soft rolling country side,
 sunflower fields... 

...I felt instantly like I was coming home again.

At that time I was living for a good number of years in Hamburg
and had been invited by old friends to come and visit them where they have a house in the Périgord.

Although I grew up in the countryside of Southern  Germany,
near the Black Forest and the mountain chain of the Schwaebische Alb,
(and in our region here are certainly no mountains at all) I cannot
 really describe what it is here which gave me - and still does - such a familiar
feeling, a feeling as if I had been here before.

After my arrival at the Perigord, all these years ago, 
within a few minutes it was clear to me - one day I will definitely live here,

And only three years later, after several returns to the Périgord,
I left Hamburg and found myself here!

and that's where I live.....

...in a tiny hamlet of four houses, between Ribérac and Verteillac.

The Périgord

Roughly following the boundaries of the old Périgord,
the département was renamed the Dordogne after the Revolution.
It is divided into four colours.

Today's Dordogne is made up of the White, Black, Green and Purple Périgords.
Each area has its distinct personality, architecture and scenery.
Ideology was a dividing factor in the Wars of Religion, with Protestant Bergerac
in the Purple Périgord and Catholic Périgueux in the White.

The White Périgord covers the west and central part of the Dordogne,
following the course of the river Isle and the limestone screes,
rich in quarries which produced the white stones for the architecture.
To the west, bordering the Charente, is Ribérac, Verteillac, and its area,
typified by beautiful Romanesque churches, numerous manor houses and small Chateaux.
 That's were we live. 

Around Ribérac and Verteillac:

Saint Front was the first missionary to convert the local tribes of Petrcorii to Christianity.
From then on, religion flourished:
Benedictines, Dominicans, Cistercians, the Knights Templar and Augustine canons....
all built magnificent abbeys and priories.
In the relative peace between the 10th and 12th centuries, after the Viking invasions,
the decadent Carolingian dynasty and struggles between feudal barons,
white-stoned Romanesque churches sprang up all over the area,
particularly around Ribérac and along the Charente border.

Saint Front was the first missionary to convert the local tribes of Petrcorii to Christianity.
From then on, religion flourished:
Benedictines, Dominicans, Cistercians, the Knights Templar and Augustine canons....
all built magnificent abbeys and priories. 

Ribérac - 7 km from La Pouyette:

The Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Ribérac,
without doubt the oldest building in Ribérc,
witness to the finest hours in the Town's history.

11th Century
From its construction the church was used by the faithful clustered around the Chateau.
But at the beginning of the 16th Century Count Odet d'Aydie and his wife Anne of Pons
signed the founding charter for a Collegiate Church.
Victims of flooding in the low town, the Benedictines from the Priory of Chalard
took up residence there.  They were especially required to pray for the souls of the founders,
buried in the chapel in the south transept.
In 1568, during the Wars of Religion, Assiel's Huguenot troops set fire to the church.
The thickness of the walls of the apse and the base of the bell-tower resisted,
and were well-preserved, but a new construction completely changed the layout.
During the Revolution, for the purposes of ammunition manufacture,
the "Friends of Liberty and Euality" decided to exhume the lead coffins of the Aydie family.
The College Church of Notre Dame reverted to being a place of Catholic Worship
at the beginning of the 19th Century, following a major restoration.

Today, superbly restored, the Church plays host during the summer
to exhibitions of contemporary art, and to workshops set up by the Ribérac Cultural Centre -
a just reward for this former Chateau Chapel, which was built around 1000AD
and completely destroyed during the Revolution.

Our weekly Friday-Farmer's Market in Ribérac

...and after all the shopping - time for a cafe or an early aperitif, an eau de vie, or....  

An "Institution" - The Cafe des Colonnes
just that place to 'see' and being 'seen' , somewhat overcrowded on Friday's

 L'avis du Petit futé sur Le Cafe des Colonnes:

"A Ribérac, c'est "the institution".
Tous les Anglais du coin - et il y en a un paquet - viennent y boire leur biere,
mais heuresement les Ribéracois conservent leur droit de préemption sur les tables,
notamment celles de la terrasse prises d'assaut des les premier baux jours.
Bref, depuis 1832, ce café est bien inscrit dans la place.
Et pour une petite ou une grosse faim, il ne fautoublier qu'il fait brasserie."
Original comment from a 'local' !

 We prefer the more quiet Cafe du Palais which is situated just around the corner
of our Tax office, very handy to 'digest' any surprises....eventually....

Verteillac - 4 Km from our place

our local butcher


Perigueux - 35 km from La Pouyette

There are really two towns to see at Périgueux,
the medieval town and the roman town, as well as an imposing cathedral.

Founded more than 2,000 years ago, 
Périgueux, préfecture or capital city of the Dordogne,
is a gracious blend of ancient and modern.

Originally two cities, one ecclesiastical, the other more mercantile,
the oldest remains in Périgueux today...

...are the Gallo-Roman tower,
the Tour de Vésone, and the excavations of a village of the same era,
beautifully presented in the museum called Vesunna.

Throughout the medieval centre there are various examples of houses
that were owned by wealthy merchants.

The main shopping precinct is a warren of cobbled alleys....

...lined with boutiques, summer buskers...

...and magnificent Renaissance houses,
perhaps the most spectacularly ornate being the
Maison du Patissier on the corner of the Place Saint-Louis. 

This pedestrian area, with its shady squares and cafe terraces,
is a marvellous venue for open air events like the regular summer night markets,
the international mime festival, Mimos, or the free evening jazz concerts,
Macadam Jazz, in July and August, as well as more traditional events
such as the marché au gras during the winter months.

 The market, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings,
spreads out around the central boulevard, into the squares in the pedestrian precinct, 

 ...and next to the cathedral.

 Here is the farmer's market with fresh fruit, plants and vegetables,
live chickens and rabbits, and several organic stalls selling home-baked bread,
eggs and home-grown fruit and vegetables.

 Le Vieux Moulin, near the Monastery garden

Périgueux's Romanesque Cathedral Saint-Front dominates the town centre.
The original church was built in about 1120 (around the same time as the church in Ribérac)
and changed in the 19th century by Paul Abadie
who used it as a model for the design of the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Paris.

The beautiful Cloister beside the Cathedral.



There is so much more to say.....I could go on for ever...


whether in Hamburg....
....or on the countryside in Southern Germany....



at my brothers place near the Black Forest....


...here at La Pouyette....

...at the end I'm at home wherever my heart is.

Please see also all our blogger friends home
By Invitation Only - Issue 7

And should you like to read and see more about the beautiful Périgord,
just stroll through my blog archive of 2011

Credit for most of the Périgueux photos:
Nicolas Fediaevsky
and France-Voyage.com


  1. Ahhhh, Karin....now we all see what brought you back so many time to this beautiful, historical area. Your post is filled with love for the countryside. I know you are happy. Reading through your post makes me want to spend a quiet week just exploring, talking to the people, shopping in the little market for the freshest produce and dairy products. So much to love, isn't there? And, I love YOU !!

  2. La Pouyette ist ein Kleinod.

    ♥ Franka

  3. What a beautiful spot Karin...your home, the cobbled alleyways, the cathedral...such history in your home town, thank you for sharing...magnificent!
    Enjoy your week.

  4. I feel a little bit like I've been to visit you in beautiful Perigord. Thank you for the lovely images and your words which are equally beautiful.

    I loved the comment of the local resident - sounds like a lot of English people either live or visit the area. I'm glad the locals have preserved their space.

  5. We have the most fond memories of your beautiful Périgord. It is a very special area and the home that you have created is magnificent. We miss you!

  6. Hi Karin. What an enchanting post about an enchanting place. The cobblestoned lanes is just beguiling and I can see myself wandering there. It reminds me of my visit to Aix en Provence. There is so much wonderful history and architecture here that I would love to capture with my camera. This was a grand idea and I love love all the posts and had such fun with my own post as well. Magnifiue Karin! Thank you..


  7. Dear Karin, What a lovely post you have written. How lucky you are to have so many beautiful places that you can call HOMe, and where your heart is.
    We look forward to visitng with you this coming September.

  8. OMG TAKE ME THERE NOW!!!!!!!!!!! Your post is spectacular and calling out my name. You are sooo lucky to have all that in your backyard, wow you lucky lady you!
    Thank you for sharing..what a delight for every single sense!

  9. I love this part of france and will actually taking my parents on a mini trip through Perigord and then on to Saint Emilion in April. I loved reading how you just fell in love with this part of the countryside and then...just moved. Bravo!

  10. I have read this post three times and love every word and every picture. I can absolutely understand how you fell in love with this area and decided to make it your home. You made your dream come true! What I love best is that you express such love for your home town in the Perigord. It is so nice to hear that. I loved learning the history and feeling the texture of the area. Thank you so much for this beautiful post. xx

  11. Hello Karin

    Thank you for the concise and beautiful educational tour of the Perigord. The architecture and quality of life is appealing. How fabulous that you elected to live her and after so many years you are still passionate for the area.

    I feel I know you a little more following this post. Have a wonderful week


  12. Well that was a lovely day in the country, thank you very much!
    Bee x

  13. I can see why you were drawn to the area Karin, it is so beautiful and so is your house....love that staircase.
    Julie x

  14. Karin,
    What a wonderful trip you took us all on! So lovely...all the history and architecture and rolling fields and of course my favorite are the sunflower fields!

    Beautiful and thoughtful...
    As always ~ Many Blessings,

  15. A beautiful journey - thank you. Your posts are always detailed and an absolute pleasure to visit. It is interesting where life unexpectedly takes us! We too dreamed of buying in the Périgueux but............... Southern Germany is also a visual feast and rich with history and photographic opportunities.

  16. Ah, Karen, now I can visualize you as you live your life and make your daily rounds! I have never been in this region of France. I know the Romanesque churches and the villages around Cluny, Taizé, etc. very well. Not the same, but not so very different either. Une jolie vie.