With so much focus on the Romans, Viking added a tour at the medieval town of Pérouges. Out on the highway toward Grenoble and the Alps, it sat on a small hill surrounded by farm lands and fish ponds. Pérouges was inhabited by farmers, linen weavers and other craftsmen until trains and highways were routed away from it taking their supplies and sales from them.
It was likely founded by a Gallic colony returning from Perugia in Italy prior to 1167. It had a unusual ring wall in that it included the back church wall. There was a high gallery at the back of the 15th century church which seemed out of place until our guide Stephania explained that it connected the battlements on either side of the church. The town’s main gate dates back prior to 1236. The wood and forgings are original.
Stephania also explained that much of our misunderstanding of the medieval period comes from towns like Pérouges. You will notice in the photo gallery the town is brown. It wasn’t in medieval times. All of the bare rock and construction materials would have been plastered smooth and painted bright colors.
Pérouges was falling apart when a public-private partnership sought to restore it. Each partner was given 99 years to get the work done. Otherwise the property would revert and be demolished for safety reasons. When it came to plastering the buildings, it was expensive and not particularly durable. No consensus could be reached other than to declare the unplastered buildings as fully restored per the purchase agreements.
So what gives this small, out of the way town the potential mislead so many? It’s been used for movie filming (notably, the Three Musketeers, 1961) and was the inspiration for theater and opera sets. So, to some degree, the misinformation went viral. So glad that’s so rare.
Before we left, we sampled a Galette Pérougienne (or Galette de Pérouges) from a recipe created by Marie-Louise Thibaut in 1912 when she settled in the village with her husband. We decided to wet our whistle with very expensive (those glasses were small), very sweet, carbonated rosé. Well, that’s not what we decided, that’s just what resulted. The restaurant was quintessential country French and very well known. What doesn’t get much press is the 100 year old sausage hanging from a ceiling fixture. It was hung there when a son went off to WWI — to be eaten when he returned…