Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Regional architectural styles in Dordogne

There are several traditional types of houses in our Dordogne region, mainly built between 1750 and 1900.  To each social class its architectural style, hence displaying its status through the construction of the property.  There are still some nice examples of these various buildings throughout Périgord.
1.      The « borderie » comes from the french word « bordier » who lived in it.  The bordier was a sharecropper, tenant farmer who gave a share of the crops to the landlord, in exchange for accommodation in the borderie.  This building was very basic, somewhat secluded at the end of the vast land and did not offer any outbuildings.
2.      The « longère » included the main room and an attached stable or barn, all on the same level and under one roof.  The windows and openings all faced the same side of the property.  This type of Périgord building usually had a large plot of land between 5 and 10 hectares or the approximate equivalent of 12 to 24 acres.  Many longeres have been restored in Dordogne and can be seen throughout the region as private homes.
3.      The farmer’s house or the wine grower’s house was built on two levels.  Access to the first floor was possible via outdoors stairs covered with an awning supported by pillars. The ground floor served as a stock room, a workshop or even a shop.  This type of house could also benefit from outbuildings such as barns, stables, a bread oven and a courtyard (enclosed or not).
4.      The « maison de maître » belonged to the landowner and was usually built in town. With a symmetrical architectural design, often on two levels, this massive property indicated wealth and the upper social status of its owner.  As a proper estate, the maison de maître was often surrounded, nearby, by agricultural outbuildings and accommodation for the farmers and workers hired by the owner.   There are many examples of beautiful well-preserved maisons de maître in Dordogne towns and villages.

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