Friday, 4 September 2015

Pérouges - a living film set

Pérouges is a small, walled medieval town in Ain, France.

A century or so ago it almost died after the re-routing of road and rail connections left it isolated from the currents of modern life. It seemed that fortified hilltops were no longer required in the twentieth century.

Depending on your source you may find that the population, never much greater than 1,500, had declined either to 90 persons or to a single family.

I am not sure whether these two statistics are mutually exclusive; I suppose it might depend on how you define family.

In its heyday Pérouges was known for hemp weaving. The name suggests that it was founded by Gallic colonists returning from Perugia in Italy, but the name is older than the town, since it applied to a noble's home which was successfully defended against the local bishop in the early middle ages.

The town was later successfully defended against a French siege, not ultimately becoming part of France until 1601.

It is so well preserved that it is used for shooting period films such as The Three Musketeers. However it is really only the fabric that is medieval. There are no chickens or pigs in the streets, no sewage runs down the middle of the roads and the unwary photographer may even find the odd motor car sneaking into his pictures on the outskirts of the town.

But if you want to see a beautifully kept set of medieval buildings, give or take the odd relatively modern window, there can be few better places to go. Even the church is built into the fortifications and the central square with its beautiful inn is a good place to purchase a restorative after a walking tour.

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