Limeuil is a magical little village in the Dordogne situated at the confluence of the Vézère and Dordogne rivers. With its pretty, cobbled streets and golden stone buildings, it is classed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It also has a “colourful” history.

Sing-a-long and brothels

From the Middle Ages to the end of the 18th century Limeuil was a busy, prosperous port. Stories passed down from these olden days describe how, after a treacherous journey down the river and finally reaching port safe and sound, the boatmen (gabarriers) would head for La Taverne de L‘Ancre du Salut in the port to boast of their exploits and have a sing-a-long. The bar/restaurant near the river still has the same name today. The boatmen would then visit the “joy houses” in the upper part of the village near the church, i.e, the brothel.

Jean Le Bossu, known as “Le Gibe”, was one such boatman who enjoyed his time ashore by taking to his violin and returning to his sweetheart. The half-timbered building that spans one of the streets (see photo) is called the Maison de la Justice and it is here where the drunk boatmen were held until they sobered up.

Upper and lower village

The architecture of the buildings in the upper part of the Limeuil contrasts with that found in the lower end. The houses near the church are more well-to-do with what are known as Mansard roofs. In the 19th century, they belonged to wealthy people. The number of rows of decorative Génoise eave tiles gives an indication of the owner’s wealth. Up until the French revolution, owning a pigeon loft was an external sign of wealth.

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