Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Look of Permanence

Bourdeilles is a classic European village. Bourdeilles is all stone and tight streets. Her buildings are constructed of stone--  labor intensive, quarried from the earth, permanent stone.
 At least the look of permanence is what first meets the eye of someone who grew up where streets were plotted out first and buildings filled in later.
I started hearing about this house and that house having a section cut off to enlarge the streets. Houses that were built when all the traffic that passed through the village was a person or two, a wheelbarrow on laundry day, and the occasional horse or cow being led out to pasture. Hiding under the imposing chateau and within the protective wall encircling the village, the houses were deliberately tucked up against each other. Alleyways through the village were tight to prevent marauders from arriving in large, aggressive gangs. For hundreds of years the only street in Bourdeilles passed right by the chateau entrance where armed men and provisions were expected to arrive.
At some point when life was less threatened by the vagaries of invaders, politics and religion, the surrounding walls of Bourdeilles were torn apart and used to build new homes. Wanting to create a street lined with businesses, the main road was moved from along the chateau to the center of the village. But wait-- there were houses placed smack dab in that proposed route. Gone, long gone are several of those homes. Anything that impeded the straight-line, enlargement of the new high street was cut up or torn down. Houses were reduced in size and left with their entrances giving right onto the new road. Several houses were completely demolished. The new road seemed grand and efficient. The village businesses thrived and deliveries arrived right to their door steps by ox drawn carts. Old timers can still describe the very, very few cars that were in Bourdeilles into the 1950’s. 

Now a days great big growling, lumbering trucks squeak through the village and it is clear why parts of homes were cut off to let these modern day behemoths through. There are still houses along this route that force the traffic down to one lane. Most of the houses on this truck route show deep scars left by swaying semi trailers.  Renovators beware! If homeowners wish to make any changes to the street side of an ancient house they will have to demolish enough of the house to allow modern day traffic through. Gone would be one of the crazy charms of our “modern” Bourdeilles.

Luckily two main streets have sufficed for today’s passing traffic. The upper side of the village remains a tight block of houses with tiny alleyways heading up and down, left and right, making mysterious turns. Two streets head up this part of the village. One is actually restricted to one way down. (When an ambulance was called in the dark hours of the morning to help with a emergency birth it tried to back up this tiny road and got stuck, much to the chagrin of the to be mother and the amusement of all the neighborhood. The Mom and baby girl were just fine. The delivery was in the hospital!) 
Fortunately, it takes moving off the Main Street to encounter passageways of another time, when no one could have imagined a self-powered, people-moving contraption passing at an unimaginable speed, greedily taking up space through the village. No one would have imagined that their solid stone homes would be dismantled for something called a car. Talk about marauders.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your post - both the history and the photos. Thanks!