Sunday, 30 October 2011


Situated approximately 8km from Braye is the village of Faye-la-Vineuse. Its name comes from the Latin "fagus" (beech), which gave Faye. Indeed Braye-sous-Faye still bears the name.With a population of just over 300 it is a typical sleepy French village. However its history tells a completely different tale.

The settlement grew up on a hill for defence purposes and by the Middle Ages this was a walled city housing ten thousand people within and outside its walls. Until Richelieu was built, it was the largest city in the region.

In the eleventh century Fulk Nerra built a castle to fortify the city. Its walls had four gates each with a drawbridge. At the beginning of the twelfth century Râoul Châtellerault built three churches and a crypt. But by 1593 nearly all these buildings had been destroyed as a result of religious conflict. This heralded the decline of Faye-la-Vineuse as a medieval city. In 1626 the city was taken by Richelieu.

Today few of these grand buildings remain, among them the twelfth century église Saint-Pierre de Marnay and the église paroissiale de Saint-Georges-de-Faye-la-Vineuse.

The church merits a separate blog which we will do over the next few days.

A poster in the Place d'église describes two walks round the village; one follows the boundary of the centre of the village ; the second is a circuit of the ramparts.

The village today bears no hint of its violent history. We enjoyed a peaceful walk with only the geese hostile to our presence.

As we left to return to Braye the countryside opened up before us, a reminder of the elevated position Faye-la-Vineuse enjoys.


GaynorB said...

A really interesting post which we'll add to our ever growing list of 'places to see and things to do'.

Susan said...

Really interesting - I had no idea! We are big 'fans' of the Black Falcon duh duh daaaaaa (scary villain music)so must make the 'pilgrimage' sometime. I'm also interested in the name derivations, as I had been wondering about that.

Jean said...

How interesting. I guess that many sleepy French villages had a turbulent past. I sometimes think it would be great to do a bit of time travelling and see how life was all those centuries ago - preferably during one of its calm periods.

Anonymous said...

How does someone who doesn't drive get to Faye-la-Vineuse? Do you know? I'm currently living in Aix-en-Provence.

Colin and Elizabeth said...

The best I can suggest is that you get a train from Marseille to Chatellerault and then taxi or bus to Faye la Vineuse. There doesn't appear to be a direct link, I'm afraid. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

It does, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pictures and walking tour. My gg...grandfather, Pierre Picher, was born there in 1632. It was after the Wars of Religion (1562-1629),when famine and the black plague devastated the region (1631-2). This was followed by peasant revolts in Poitou Province (1635-43). When Pierre emigrated to New France there was another food crisis brewing in Poitou (1661-2).

Let's not forget that most people living in and around Faye-la-Vineuse were commoners like Pierre caught in vicious civil wars and living in a time of great corruption and high taxation. Their towns and fields were often pillaged by mercenary armies employed by noblemen warring during the Ancien Regime. This finally led to the French Revolution, a sustained popular revolt of citizens fed up by the corrupt, self serving ways of the "nobility."

Sue Edwards said...

Hello, I love your story of relocating to France and your photos. Thank you for sharing! I'm also a descendant of Pierre Picher. With the history and all that went on there long ago, it comes to mind the story of Pierre Pichet. And all sorts of questions arise about the situation he found himself in after he arrived in Canada.

Pierre Pichet was baptized 18 August 1682 in the parish of St-Georges-de-Faye-la-Vineuse, the son of Pierre Piché and Anne Pinot. Married in France, he came to Canada in 1662 with the intention of bringing his wife to the colony once he was established. Three months after arriving in Canada, however, Pierre received a letter from his brother, Louis, informing him that his wife, Marie Lefebvre, had died.

Finding himself a widower, Pierre decided to make a new life for himself in Canada as a hat maker and married Fille du Roi, Catherine Durand on 25 November 1665 in Quebec City. Pierre and Catherine lived happily until 1671, when he received disturbing news from a recent immigrant; Pierre's first wife was still alive in France.

Pierre, realizing his inadvertant bigamy, sought advice from Bishop Laval. Laval, himself about to leave on a trip to France, promised Pierre that he would look into the matter during his travels. The news proved to be true; Marie Lefebvre was still alive. Doing the honorable thing, Pierre obtained permission from authorities to return to France to find Marie. After reuniting with her, Pierre decided to heed the bishop's advice and bring his first wife back to Canada with him.

The two set sail for the colony on the ship La Nouvelle-France under the command of Captain Poullet. However, tragedy struck during the voyage and Marie Lefebvre died at sea. Pierre Pichet returned to Canada, widowed a second time and by the same woman.

Back in Canada, Pierre obtained permission from the Church to continue his marriage to Catherine. Their marriage was rehabilitated on 9 September 1673. However, since their three children were born when Pierre was still legally married to Marie Lefebvre, they could not be considered his legitimate heirs in the eyes of the law. Fortunately, two days after the Church validated the marriage, the Counceil Superieur restored the civil rights to the three children, who now had their full rights of inheritance.

Sue Edwards
Panama City, Florida