Busserolles is a small and ancient village, occupied since Roman days. It lies in the Dordogne, just a few kilometres from the Charente border; five roads meet there, perhaps to help the population get to the local well (of which more later!). The area is quite hilly and difficult to traverse, which no doubt accounts for the fiendishly twisty and narrow roads surrounding it! The population in 2014 was 511, a lot less than in 1962 when there were 941 inhabitants! The village has changed its name a number of times; the first mention of it was in the 13th century, when it was called Buxerolla in the local Occitan language (of which I have written before). In the following century, it was known as Buysserola and it remained thus for half a millennium, when the map makers recorded the name as Buxerolles. Back then, people weren't too fussy about spelling, but there could also have been adjustments to make pronunciation easier for French speakers, who had perhaps become more numerous in the countryside.
Our first stop in the village was (of course!) at the local bar and restaurant known as Le Vieux Puits (The Old Well). Set in a tiny square at the point where the five roads meet, it's a good place to stop for some refreshment and we find that the friendly Dutch owner is also fluent in French and English!
This is the old well in the Place de Puits. The mastiff, belonging, it seemed, to the bar owner, was a friendly dog who decided to bomb my photo!
Inside the bar, on one of the walls, is this painting of the town and church as it must have been in past ages.
This is my photo of the same scene with a narrower lens, showing how accurate the painting is. The church of Saint-Martial was built in the 12th century, although it was substantially rebuilt in the 15th century. It was registered as a historical monument in 1958.
It was difficult to take photos of the church facades, because I couldn't get far enough back in the narrow streets! The small main entrance is a bit unusual in that you have to go down four stairs to enter the church. I am guessing that the building of the street's hard surfacing happened much later in time and the ground levels didn't work out!
There were two naves...
separated by large stone columns...
holding up a vaulted ceiling. The masonry techniques are quite impressive for such a modest and unrefined place of worship.
At the back was the beautiful old stone font and the ubiquitous confessional booth!
Colourful stained glass windows, that above in a modern style, but that below of a more ornate design reflecting a much greater age....
threw interesting lighting into the church.
A bit further down the street, I loved this old house with a mansard roof of traditional design, and especially the decorative art work on the chimneys, which possibly also serve as reinforcement to the brickwork.
The doorway of the above house in more detail. As with the church, one has to wonder why the building and street levels are so different! Maybe the basement had an influence. Nonetheless, it's an attractive and imposing feature, designed to impress. Perhaps a merchant's house or that of a local landowner.
Another attractive, and no doubt costly doorway with ornate balcony above. Strange to see these incongruous displays of wealth cheek by jowl with labourers' housing which you can see below.
One of the main streets through the village. I guess all the people who live here have small cars!
The war memorial. For a small place like this, it must have suffered badly in WW1. There are at least 100 names on the 3 plaques, and in some instances 4 have the same family name!! Those hundred men could have been 10% of the village at that time and a big proportion of the manpower - what a great sacrifice!
Also see my daily diary HERE
and My Life Before Charente (updated 25 September 2016) I will get back to this eventually!