Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Gargilesse Dampierre, France - June 13, 2011

L'Ecole Buissonnière - Gargilesse (Creuse's river valley)
Gargilesse Dampierre, a tiny community of 320 folk or so, lies in a small valley by the Gargilesse river. Approaching the village was reminiscent of English driving in country lanes with the hedgerows scrubbing both side of the little camper van for several miles.
Formerly the site of a Gallo-Roman castle and a Romanesque-Byzantine church of the 12th and 13th centuries, Gargilesse became the retirement village for the French authoress Georges Sand in 1857. It has become a magnet for wannabe artists of every ilk in recent times.
Les Comtes de Gargilesse built a fortified castle here in the 13th century. Hugues de Naillac, Lord of Gargilesse led a crusade to the Holy Land and brought back a statue of a byzantine Virgin for which he built the Romanesque chapel next to the castle. In 1750, following a fire and subsequent deliberate dismantlement, the castle was rebuilt as a manor house. In 1998, the painter Annick Thevenin purchased the castle to create an Art gallery.
At the age of fifty three and at the height of her career, George Sand dreamed of retirement and a place to settle, finally choosing Gargilesse. This indeed proved to be a paradise for George for, between 1857 and 1862, she wrote thirteen novels, two volumes of essays and three plays. Her work "Elle et Lui", at 620 pages was written in just 25 days! Sand's house was purchased by the commune in 1959. More pictures here.

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