Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Coulgens - a small town in the Charente

The city (rather fancifully descibed by one source as such!) of Coulgens  belongs to the district of La Rochefoucauld. The 1999 census says it had a population of 389, but other research gives the population at 494, although no date is given for this. At the Coulgens web site, which has masses of information, it calls itself a town, also rather fanciful with that small number of people…… To me, it's a typical French village!!

See the official Coulgens website HERE. The site is written in French unsurprisingly, but for those who cannot follow it, try reading it through the Google translator which you can find HERE . This is not perfect by any means, but it will certainly give you much of the information.

There are many old villages in France  which have  been  augmented by the addition, on their perimeters, of a lot of new houses within the last 5 years. These new houses are mostly small rendered boxes, with "stick-on" shutters and zero character. Younger people sadly cannot afford the high restoration cost of the older stone village houses and many now prefer to buy, or build, something new (and characterless!), being less draughty and requiring less maintenance! This could account for the population rise, if the latter figure is a recent count. The expatriates have a lot to do with this, I am afraid, as over the last 20 or so years, France and its relaxed and civilised lifestyle became very popular with other Europeans. They kept buying and so pushed the prices up sky high, which in turn meant the French could not afford them anymore!

The town of Coulgens is at the intersection of two ancient Roman roads at a place called the Needle. The road of Agrippa and the way Angoulême-Bourges, currently the D45 and the D40. This location gives the site some geographical importance. There is a lot of history at the above website for anyone interested in reading further.

Coulgens is located partly on a floodplain. They say, with a direct translation that ‘Our river Tardoire is very unruly, dry in summer, she often leaves her bed in the winter.’ I loved the way this was worded and on the website there are a few suggestions about what to do during flooding!

The church, Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Coulgens is a Romanesque building. The character gives it a particular place among the religious buildings of the region. There appear to have been two major reconstructions during the Middle Ages. Again, if you would like to read further, please check out the website above. If all that history is a bit dry for you, dear readers, here are some lovely sun-soaked summer pictures to convey the village's attractive ambience.

Church Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Coulgens




Sadly, the doors were locked, so I could not see the inside; to make matters worse,there was a long and high stone wall built not far from the front of the church, so it was difficult to take photos from any distance.

Coulgens Post Office - probably closed for lunch!

Coulgens Mairie (Mayor's office) with the war memorial in  front. Mayor's offices are, almost without exception, kept in pristine condition and the surroundings immaculate.

A view down the road, with the church in the background.



70 comments:

  1. A charming village ;-) It seems no matter where one lives the prices simply keep going up. It is a sad state of affairs. I do agree that modern places do tend to have little to no character and to afford houses or homes with character one does need money.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are lovely pictures to look at instead of the view from my window out to a grey, rainy Irish afternoon. Love the window photos and the wall in that last photo is gorgeous. I'm new to your blog came by way of Olga and being a Francophile I shall return!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful photos. I particularly like the photo of the post office. What a lovely quaint building. Thanks for posting this. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Diane: It seems I haven't been visiting your blog for a while, you've been updating quite a lot: l loved the bugs in your garden and the Vegetable Hot Pot is simple delicious.

    Too bad the prices keep rising all over, it's quite the same down here, adding the fact that we are in the third world, things don't seem to get better.

    I loved the "town" I guess it didn't take you too long to walk around!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are so right Joyful. Our old house in France has cost us quite a bit over the last 5 years while we have been restoring. The problem is because it is old there is always going to be more maintenance than in a new building!! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dolly thanks so much for the visit. Yep I know the feeling of looking out of the window at a grey wet day. I also needed some sunshine so though this might help!!

    Love your blog, I will also be back to visit you. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  7. Pamela you are so right it did not take long to walk around LOL. Yep prices just never seem to stop going up, meanwhile our salaries here have come down. Nigel took a 15% drop 18 months ago which really is a lot! Never the less it was better than retrenchment!

    Since we left S.Africa 9 years ago I am horrified how the cost of living there has gone up. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  8. Happy Fog and I, there are so many unusual and as you say quaint buildings around in French villages and towns. They are fun to look for and photograph. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  9. My house is a Norman style chateau, built in 1923 and expanded in 1928. Nothing new compares to the details in old houses. It looks very similar to your Mayor's house; of course, we don't have a War Memorial. I see you are reminiscing about summer. I don't blame you at all! This is a lovely little town.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Once again, thanks for the tour and rock-building pics ... I imagine that the French countryside has many of these villages ...

    ... I also imaging that the weather here is similar to the Cape in SA?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Marjie I would love to see your house, you have mentioned it several times. You are right I am reminiscing about summer. It is about all that keeps me going during grey wet days like we have had today!! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  12. Graham as you say there are many villages around and most of the old buildings are all stone. Not like the new ones that are put up in a short time with blocks :(

    During summer we have temperatures quite often well over 30C occasionally going up to 40C. It is certainly much warmer than the UK. Winter can be very cold and we do get snow but it is a much shorter winter than the UK. I have said before it is quite similar to Jhb but maybe the winters are a bit colder. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  13. Quaint little town. Love the old building and the view of church in the first photo is beautiful. Hope you're having a good day. Do you live in an apartment there? I to watch HGTV House Hunters International where people are looking for homes in different parts of the world and you view the insides of the homes they are looking to buy. Anyhow it gives me a peek into what homes are like in other parts of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  14. hi...i just found you. what a wonderful village. i have created my gardens to look like all the places i've traveled over the world. i love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Diane,thank you for the tour. As usual it is fascinating. The architecture is very impressive and everything looks so peaceful.
    I suggested that three of us ( you like capture doors, Dolly is after windows and I am after roofs) should sometime make a project together :D

    ReplyDelete
  16. The stonework is amazing. That last wall looks like a dry stack. My kind of Village with not many people.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love the old architecture and I find it distressing that builders can not add some architectural detail to the outsdie of a house to at least make it blend to some degree with the older styles. I think it could be done - a door frame and door, or old looking shutters with a few flower boxes.

    I love the pictures of the insects. I have a wreath formed of eculyptus branches and little artificial insects all over it.
    Most of my friends do not appreciate my taste - that's okay.

    Chick peac - I have never had them hot. I like to add them to salads and I have a nice tangy salad recipe where they are the main ingredient.

    This dish of yours looks yummy, and I believe it must be the main course if not the entire meal.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Becca it is a cute little town but it does not seen very lively. I bet it is quite active when they have their second hand markets and such though. We live in a two up two down house in the middle of a block in the UK with a paved garden, not very inspiring, but it was the cheapest we could find when we wanted to downsize and buy a house in France! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi jaz@octoberfarm, good to hear from you and thanks for your visit. Love your blog and I will be back to see you also. What a great idea creating a garden that reminds you of the places you have visited. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Olga that would be good to do a project sometime, we could build a house between us LOL.

    Peaceful was the correct word for it on the day I took the photos, I don't think I saw a single body. I guess they were all to busy eating and having a glass of wine :) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  21. Gaelyn, yes you are right that it a dry stone, they don't build them today like they used to!! That wall has probably been standing for many years. Our little hamlet where we live in France has only a dozen houses, just the way I like it. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  22. Mya it also upsets me that the new houses can not look a bit as if 'they belong'. There are so many things that can be done to make them look better. A very few have made the effort but there are not too many of them.

    Mya if you enjoy your artificial insects that is up to you forget what other people say :)

    Yep the chick pea recipe is a main meal and very tasty it is as well. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  23. Diane, I always enjoy all your photos. They are so well taken. I am a city girl so I do not know if I can live in a country side but I adore the beautiful scenery and the peaceful environment.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Quay Po Cooks, everyone to their own :) I could never live in a city. I am too fond of my privacy and wide open spaces. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Diane, I love the photos - the one of the post office is my favourite.

    There are lots of new developments of little boxes that are modern dwellings in Touraine, as everywhere. You can't blame people for wanting something easy to maintain and heat and I dare say they all look a bit better when the gardens have matured a bit.

    Is it really the case that ex-pats buying old property has pushed the prices up? Our little cottage had been for sale for over a year and it was quite cheap and in not too bad condition. But no French person wanted it, even though it was a lot cheaper than the new little boxes. Our neighbours are really pleased that we have "rescued" the place and improved its appearance, otherwise it was destined to be just another old building that crumbles away. Once the roof has gone the cost of doing up a small place makes it less viable.

    We are thinking of doing the same as you by the sound of it - downsizing to something we can afford to maintain in the UK and having our little house with all its character in France.....one day, anyway !!

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a beautiful sleepy looking place. xxx

    ReplyDelete
  27. Jean there is little doubt in my mind that ex-pats pushed prices up. But yes you are right a lot of the French do not want to restore. Restoration in France is not cheap, paint etc we brought from the UK.

    My French neighbour bought his barn with his new wife 15 years ago for €10,000. He has restored it almost single handed to a lovely house. Last year he got fed up with continual maintenance and built a new house just down the road to his specifications. The new place has little maintenance, no dust, under floor heating and all mod cons. He is very happy, but the house has absolutely NO character. Every one to their own but to me they look like council houses!! Luckily he sold the old place quite easily. He kept his price sensible and it sold within a couple of months of me doing a website for him. His grandmother’s house though which is the one on my website, despite the price drop, is not selling. I have to say I am surprised as there is so much storage there though the house is not huge. Apart for a bit of interior paint and wall paper change it is in excellent condition.

    We hope it will not be long before Nigel can afford to retire and then we are out of here as fast as we can go :-) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  28. Diane as you say a sleepy place, particularly when I was there!! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  29. What a cute and quaint little town.
    I majored in ancient history, mostly European history - and so your insights and information on ancient towns is always appreciated :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. What wonderful architecture and history. It is sad to see the change in the local culture. Wouldn't it be great if the children would keep up the heritage of these lovely homes? I find new homes really lack soul. Its important to preserve the local history. :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Cuisine de Provence, thanks for the comment. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  32. Indie.Tea What an interesting subject to study. Glad you enjoy the posts. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  33. Neil and Susan, I really do not like the new houses at all,as you say they lack soul. They are popping up like mushrooms in areas around us!!! They just do not look like French :( Very sad, or I think so anyway. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  34. What a quaint and lovely village. The old stonework is impossible to duplicate and it is a real treasure. Your photos of the village are quite lovely, Diane. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

    ReplyDelete
  35. Mary you are so right, there are very few people who can build like that nowadays especially the dry stone wall. Take care Diane

    ReplyDelete
  36. What a lovely village, full of charm and history. Beautiful photos, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank Faith for your comments, it really was a beautiful little town. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  38. The church is beautiful - I love the arched doorway.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Pam there are so many beautiful churches in France, and I have to say also in England. I have a couple of UK churches to post on before I leave.

    ReplyDelete
  40. No matter how often we travel thru France, there's always something new - but maybe that's anywhere in Europe.
    We learn so much from your posts.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Leon and Sue, you are so right every little village has something different. Glad you enjoy the posts and learn something from them. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  42. I think what I love most about your blog (aside from your charm) is that you take me off the beaten path to places I've never been or even heard of. SO many gems to put in my "to visit" book. Thanks to great blogs like yours, I am getting quite a list!

    ReplyDelete
  43. lostpastremembered if all these little places in France are on your 'to visit' list you know where you will have to come and stay:) Maybe then I can get to sample some of your fantastic cooking :))))))) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  44. Wonderful architecture! I especially like the contrast of the conic roof next to the tower.

    ReplyDelete
  45. These photos reminded me of the day trips we used to take when we lived in France; charming quaint villages and how true! postal offices making sure lunch is sacred and time must be provided for it!

    ReplyDelete
  46. JM the conical roof next to the tower is quite unusual. I also liked it, but I wonder how easy it was to seal against the elements. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  47. Taste of Beirut I think lunch is the most sacred meal everywhere in France LOL. I was fascinated when we had builders at the house. 12h00 the folding table came out with the chairs, plates, knives and forks, plus the bottle of wine and generally a 3 course meal :-) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  48. Belas fotografias...Espectacular....
    Cumprimentos

    ReplyDelete
  49. Those old French villages are so gorgeous, and so easy to romanticise too! And I love that so often one finds the most amazing meals down little streets - always a wonderful surprise.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Fernando Santos, Obrigado pelo seu comentário. Tenha um ótimo dia.
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
  51. Nicky you are right there all sorts of surprises hidden away in the back streets of some of these little places. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  52. I love that phrase too about the river Tardoire!

    And no, that history is not at all dry. It's great because I don't seem to have any French books about villages. I have some about Paris and Brétagne. So thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Brittany I am really pleased that it is of interest to you. I love the history of all these little places. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  54. So very very interesting!! The architecture of these buildings is something that just kind of speaks to the human soul... nothing like sturdy villages with pasts that go back eons!
    Blessings!
    Ann

    ReplyDelete
  55. Hello diane!
    Lovely town and great pictures as usual!
    Only a few weeks from now and you'll be back!!
    Wish you a great evening!!
    Cheers!!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Ann you are so right, if only those walls could talk!! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  57. Noushka I will be back home 27 March :))))))) You have a good evening also. Diane x

    ReplyDelete
  58. i see my good friend and blog buddy jaz from octoberfarm here...

    love seeing all these photographs..and i LOVE your blog header...

    happy to visit here today, diane

    kary

    ReplyDelete
  59. Kary, thanks so much for the visit and for your kind comments. Hope to see you back again soon. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  60. WOW!
    I am impressed by your friends bringing their parrots back to Europe!
    It mustn't have been easy and I image the paper work, with all the regulations....
    I wonder what species they have...
    and if the Stoodley's are still in business! They were quite well known when we were still in activity, in the 80's & 90's!
    Keep well!
    XXXX

    ReplyDelete
  61. Noushka I have asked Penny what parets they breed. If she replies I will let you know. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  62. Diane,
    Many thanks for your visit to my blog and for your nice comments !!
    Your vilagge is so lovely.
    5 years a go, we travel to Brittany, beautiful place with small vilagges, like yours.
    I see in the map the Coulgens.Is near the Brittany and Bordeaux;
    You have right, today is very difficult to preserve the old stone houses.
    You are allready in my favorites blogs.
    Best regards
    Magda from Greece

    ReplyDelete
  63. Magda, so pleased you have come to visit. Coulgens is a lovely liitle place, but there are so many lovely little places around in France. Since I have had the blog and got camera happy I have seen so many places that before I never noticed :-) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  64. This is one reason am addicted to your blog Diane, it's like giving us a tour everyday about your place. That and the food you shared. Have a nice day!

    ReplyDelete
  65. chubskulit, so glad you are addicted :) I try to do posts on things that I enjoy and as there are so many things in my life you get a wide range of variety !! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  66. chubskulit, so glad you are addicted :) I try to do posts on things that I enjoy and as there are so many things in my life you get a wide range of variety !! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  67. Hello Diane,
    I feel for Penny!! Hand rearing baby birds right through the night is killing! If you have any news from her let me know! I am curious to know what kind of parrots she's got!!

    ReplyDelete
  68. Bonjour!

    I saw your blog in "A taste of Garlic" and wondered if you would be interested in contributing to our new online magazine TIENS ! Le Sud-Ouest de la France.

    Here's the address to the home page: http://websitetiensmagazine.dutchgiraffe.fr/

    For more information, please contact me.
    Kind regards,
    Perry Taylor
    perry@tiensmagazine.com

    ReplyDelete
  69. Thanks Perry for your comment. We will look at the website and be in touch. Diane

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and pass a comment. Every comment is appreciated and I try to reply to each and every one. All comments are verification free but will come to me for approval first :-)) No Anonymous Users!