Earlier this week, we took advantage of a clear, sunny, calm but very cold day to visit St-Germain-de-Confolens; a very small medieval village, now accommodating only 98 souls, situated at the confluence of the Vienne and Issoire rivers, not far from the Charente boundary; the village grew up below its chateau walls and the inhabitants occupied themselves in the industries of milling, tanning and granite extraction, all of which have now virtually ceased. Milling and tanning declined in the 19th century and granite extraction took place until the 1970's. Once again, I took too many photos, but I have tried to pick out the best for you.
The sort of view which an early attacker might have had of the imposing chateau, built on a promontory overlooking the river confluence. The castle was first mentioned in documents prepared in the year 1073 and was much rebuilt over the next 500 years. It has not fared so well in the last 500! It's a very steep walk up the narrow road to the top - cars not allowed!
Once up there, the panoramic views of the Vienne river are spectacular. A month ago, all was white with snow, and blocks of ice were floating in the water!
Again the Vienne river, upstream of the last shot
A view of the ancillary buildings, built within the chateau walls (as they were) and including the 12th century chapel of Saint Vincent on the left and what might be a house for the priest on the right.
Another aspect, showing part of the old cemetery, perched on a ledge overhanging the steep drop down to the wooded Issoire river valley, which runs on the rear side of the chateau.
Next, some more photos of the crumbling, but still very substantial structure. What an effort to have built all this, on top of a hill, 950 years ago, although the granite was close by!
Probably an embrasure from which the defenders could have fired down on those laying siege to the chateau.
One of the village streets; barely a small car width!
The Vienne bridge was originally built in the Middle Ages, but road widening works in 1901 regrettably destroyed much of this character. The bridge would have also had, at one time, a town gate or toll, to control access to the village as part of its defences.
Across the Vienne bridge and on the way out of the village, a faded example of a tin advertising sign, once so common all over France fifty or more years ago. It's always good to see such reminders of past times!
Once again my thanks goes to Nigel for all his research.
I am a verification free blog. The new system introduced by Google of two words, quite often almost impossible to read, I find infuriating and time consuming. Your comments will be sent to me for approval only, no verification needed. I am hoping that more people will follow this lead. I get very few spam comments but when I do I can remove them at will .
Go to Dashboard, then ‘settings’, ‘comments’ go down to ‘Show word verification for comments’ click on No and save settings. If you are using the new blogger you will need to revert back to the old interface and take the same route.