Monday, March 12, 2012

Unheard Stories, Bourdeilles France

All buildings have unheard stories. In Bourdeilles these stories could be Renaissance  adventures, a Medieval tale, or even, in the case of one or two houses, the claims of Roman settlers.

 Sometime last fall I heard tell of an ancient abandoned place in the forest near by. With no leaves on the trees I spent the winter following every rabbit path that led into a hidden corner, but every trail narrowed to an end with no discovery.  Not even a rabbit. Then one day walking in the middle of our favorite valley Tom spied a window. A window floating in the bare tree branches. One step forward it was gone, one step back and it was gone. Look up at the wrong moment and there would be nothing. Maybe this was it!

After a few inquiries we were given directions to the entrance of a hidden path. A place we had passed many times.  The path made a straight line along the edge of the cliffs and then suddenly took a sharp left on the other side of a small hollow. Looking across the hollow we could again see an opening floating where there should be rock and brambles. Just before arriving at the now obvious entry there was a lovely terrace. Just the sort of space one would enjoy on a summer evening as the sun was setting. Then we entered the “building”.  
It was a cave.  More exact, it was an enhanced cave that had been carved into and added onto until it became a home. It is enchanting.

Nothing could have prepared us for the beautiful space. We were suspended over the valley floor in a rock room with a smooth mud floor, light pouring in from several sides. The scale and space were amazing and elegant. Here was a room that held bright sunshine on a cold winter day.  A fireplace finished the scene.  The mass of rock and hill and cliff wasn’t oppressive, it was oddly comforting.  One felt immediately safe and at ease.

This hole would probably  have been a grainary.

I’ve since asked several townspeople what is known about this nearby secret place. The only consistent theme is that it has been a hideaway. A hideaway during the wars of religion, a hideaway from the English invasions, a hideaway during the Nazi occupation, (one woman says she heard of dances held here on summer evenings during this time) a hideaway from teenager’s parents. A hideaway used for hundreds of years.

One’s imagination goes wild in a space like this. When did the first human find the cave? When did they begin to add cut stones and make it into a homey space? Was it actually a church at some point in time? Could a space like this ever be comfortable? When, when, when, did all of this start and when did it finally become abandoned? (There are still homes like this being lived in in this region.)

Oh to hear a story or two from this beautiful space. 
The cliffs are just below this table top field.


CherylD said...

What a fabulous story and photos. It's always a dilemma whether to keep a good secret or tell a good story.

susan vieth said...

The amazing thing is that even shared it wont become 'popular' there are just too many such places hidden around here. The locals barely even think about them any more!

Anonymous said...

it sounds like a troglodyte dwelling

Carrot said...

Reading your blog is the best nightcap ever! Your lightheartedness, curiosity, fabulous eye candy, and way with words are such pleasures.

Anonymous said...

wow. what a magical discovery! thanks for sharing. xo, Marcy