Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saint Jean de Côle, France - June 24, 2011

Today, Saint Jean de Côle is a tiny town of 340 inhabitants. Its history began in the 11th century when the Bishop of Perigueux began the construction of the “Château de la Marthonie” and the Priory. In addition to this castle, the town also boasts a large church, an unusually shaped stone bridge over the river Côle and lots of half-timbered houses.
The present Chateau de la Marthonie actually dates from a 15th century reconstruction following the 100 years war and has a wing that was added in the 17th century. One of the most famous residents of this castle was Mondot de la Marthonie, first president of Bordeaux's parliament court, adviser of the Queen Mother in Paris. Sacked by the protestants in 1569, la Marthonie fell into the hands of the Beaumont-Beynac family who are the current owners of record.
Across the square is the 11th century church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, an interesting example of Roman-Byzantine architecture realized in gray and ocher sandstone in an unusual plan organized in a semicircle around the apse. In summer time, concerts are held each week in the church. Originally the church sported a 42 foot diameter masonry dome that collapsed under its own weight and was replaced by a lighter wooden structure.
At the north end of the village, the river Côle is spanned by a medieval hump-backed bridge with bull-nosed cutwaters projecting into the river. Every year during the weekend closest to the 8th of May, St Jean de Côle hosts a flower fair attended by more than a hundred exhibitors. More pictures of this delightful place here.

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