What’s that we hear you ask. Yeah we thought long and hard about that too, back in the spring of 2005 when we were planning that “round the edges of France” road trip.
We are on day 8 of the “epic” road tip (of that time), and had driven from Bordeaux to the Dordogne region. It’s a place that is very popular with Brits and on the road we will see a GB plate car ever so often that it might appear we are driving on a busy stretch of the M25.
Ok yes we hear you, so what’s a Borie???
A Borie is a dry-stone hut, roughly like an igloo made of stones. Dry-stone construction, which has been around since the dawn of time, is of course not a unique thing to France. And while they may seem practical in the sense to be used as storage sheds for example, at least here the reason for building them was very basic: to clear the stones from the fields, at least this was what the guide at Eyrignac garden said.
When we inquired as to where can we see more of the bories, he directed us to drive the borie village at Cabanes du Breuil. It was already the mid afternoon when we had completed our exploration of the beautiful garden (read here) and we had thought of going another day. Well, since we are out here why not?
The drive itself was not far, about 25km away and it took us roughly 45 minutes to eventually find our way. You see there wasn’t much in the way of signage back in 2005. Perhaps it was in French and we missed it all. Anyhow we managed to pull up to an open parking area where there were two other cars. Sensing that we must be near, we parked and walked up to a tiny wood shed in the bushes. It was manned by an old gentleman who only spoke French. We gesticulated with him for a couple of minutes, and he pointed to his watch…it was like close to 6pm!
Paying the man €3.50pp, we were waved in.
So gingerly we made our way, walking first a field and trees whose branches hang really low that they almost touch the ground. If one looked up Wiki, then it is explained that monks lived in this village. Till this day no one really knows. But that was not the point of the visit. We were here to know more about what these curious structures were for.
What is clear is this, aside from clearing stones from the fields other clear uses arose: as barns for livestock, even dwellings for people were built. The word “Borie” is of Provençal origin, comes from the Latin “boaria” – oxen stable -, signifying a type of shed. First popping up in fields to house the peasants’ tools. It became as time passed, a the little ‘country house’, done up often in quite a rudimentary manner, perhaps to spend Sundays and holidays for the farmers.
The borie also facilitated shepherds to shelter their flocks. This is a working village, evident from our observations of a geese pen. The pen also had a peacock that kept the geese away from the corn…! Whenever the geese would approach, the peacock would display its feathers to intimidate the geese. What an excellent photo opportunity to capture the politics of animal farm! Guess you can say the peacock represents the elite while the geese’s main street…
If you ask us, we’d recommend for an hour or two’s stopover here:
We were here in Jun 2005.