Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thiviers, France - June 24, 2011

Thiviers is a small town in the Dordogne department of the Aquitaine region that prides itself on its foie gras (fatty liver), walnuts and truffles. Beyond these attributes it seems to major in hard luck stories.
In 1211, Jean Sans Terre took possession of the town only to have it taken back the following year by Guy, Viscount of Limoges. From 1374 to 1376, it was again occupied, this time by the English who were then driven out by Charles VI. In the meantime, as though not content with these inconveniences, the town fell prey to plague and famine. In 1365 there were 433 dwellings in town housing around 2,600 inhabitants; by 1503 the number of occupied homes had fallen to just 20 as a result of these ravages.
In 1575 along came the Calvinists, summarily slaughtering those who resisted the destruction of the city walls, the chateau and the church. A pretty sorry history that even today remains grim. The town is patently run down and, after its population peaked in 1975 at a little over 4,100 it has since fallen by 25%  to not much more than it was in the 14th century.
Dedicated to 'Notre-Dame', the big church in town dates from the 12th Century but has subsequently been altered many times, especially following the wars of religion during which it was partially destroyed. On two of the church columns are carvings of monstrous men. A little way to the south-east of the church is the renaissance style facade of the 16th century Chateau de Vaucocour, built on the site of a 12th century castle that was destroyed in the Wars of Religion.
Thiviers has a sigificant history of pottery production and there is a museum in town dedicated to this industry. There is a market every Saturday morning. Check here for more pictures.

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