Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Advent postcards, Embourie Charente

French Village Diaries cycling adventures advent postcard Embourie Charente
Advent postcards, Embourie, Charente

Advent day six

Today’s cycling advent-ures postcard is from a small village in the Charente, home to only around one hundred inhabitants but that kept a huge secret for hundreds of years. Hidden in a field above the village of Embourie are the remains of an impressive Gallo-Roman villa and many other artifacts have been uncovered in area in the last fifty years.


It is much to my shame that Embourie has been on our cycling radar for many years, including as a morning coffee stop on our Christmas Day picnic rides, but having regularly climbed up past the church, we had never before turned off the narrow main road and followed signs to the villa. In our defence, France (and particularly French villages) have a habit of enticing the traveller off their chosen path with intriguing signs for Dolmens, cheese farms, Roman villas etc that often result in a huge detour for something that is closed or rather unremarkable. I’ve made Adrian follow enough of these over the years to make him wary, but I’m happy to report that Embourie isn’t one of these wild goose chase detours. 


Closely following the Terra Aventura app, we had visited the church and ancient tombs in the cemetery, and taken a walk through the antique garden, set out to illustrate the planting and structure of a garden in a wealthy Gallo-Roman villa. It was finally time to find the villa. At the end of a flower edged lane, a short stretch along the hedgerow of a field led us to a marked-out area with low stone walls depicting the remains of the villa, with handily placed information boards to explain it all. Embourie might be small, but our visit was fascinating and there was so much more to discover than I was expecting. 

As I look back on our various outings this year, Gallo-Roman sites have featured many times from Saintes, in the Charente-Maritime, to Perigueux, in the Dordogne, to Rom in the Deux-Sèvres, where we will be visiting for tomorrow’s postcard. It is wonderful to live in an area with so much history, from so many different periods. 

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