Last Sunday my friend, Colin (The Frugal Gourmet) Dyson and I took a break from fly-fishing and went for a stroll along the banks of the River Larçon at Ferrière Larçon in the South Touraine.
This sweet, picturesque village is set at the confluence of two rivers, the Brignon and the Larçon. Its name dates back to the time of the Gauls who mined and worked iron in the area. Prior to the Gauls prehistoric people lived in the valley and dug shelters into the banks of the Larçon.
The village is the setting off point for a number of interesting and pleasant local walks of varying lengths. You can also walk around the village itself and follow the informative information boards which are there for the benefit of tourists and locals alike. If you are lucky, or with a knowledgeable guide, you may spot some of the rare orchids which grow by the two rivers.
Here is the English Text from Information Board #3:
“The many quarrymen who lived in Ferrière Larçon from the 18th to the beginning of the 19th Century dug into the banks of the Larçon river to extract the rock, until the 19th century (because it was difficult and expensive to extract, and shape) rough-hewn stone cut from the rock was used exclusively for important buildings such as churches, forts, château and stately homes. Although the extracted rock was little used for more humble dwellings, the caves resulting from the quarrying were often adapted as homes.
This row of troglodyte dwellings is cut into the soft local rock called tufa. Usually a rubble stone wall was built across the front of the cave. The have been damaged to varying extents by erosion. All the dwellings are different. Openings for doors and windows are often very small. Stone chimneys through rock evacuated the smoke from the huge fireplaces used for cooking and heating. These humble dwellings were the homes of quarrymen and [hemp] weavers of the 19th century. “
The citizens of the village are very active in restoring the troglodyte dwellings and the local lavoir. Just click here for their full programme of communal activities during 2011 and/or contact the local Association “Ferrière-Larçon Histoire & Patrimoine”: 02.47.59.69.09 firstname.lastname@example.org