A little history of La Maresque

A little history of La Maresque …

An ancient farm dating to the 18th century, nestling in the Albigeois hills, is bound to make you wonder about its history… These old walls of stone and earth, held together for centuries by their original plaster, began a new life in 2003, after painstaking restoration by the owners, as two characterful gites, included by the Regional Tourism Committee in their “Art de vivre” label.

Nobody in Rouffiac could tell us, from when the first walls of La Maresque date… but it is said that at the time of the revolution, the local farmers “salvaged” materials from the chateau, of which only the tower stands today, to add to their own homes.

What we discovered during the building work, when the old rendering was stripped off the walls, was that la Vieille Maison must have been a simple shepherd’s cottage: with one room for the animals and another for their guardian. The mangers, obviously hand-crafted in tile, are still in place. Then from the pillars that we saw exposed, it seemed that a mezzanine had once been constructed to store hay and grain. It was probably only in the 19th Century that la Vieille Maison became a proper residence.

Dating certainly from that period are: the new stable with hay-barn above, the pigeon house and the wine-cellar. Breeding pigeons provided fertilizer for the vegetable garden, and the farmers of La Maresque had all the makings for their own wine (Gaillac of course!).

In 1950, the second-to-last tenancy agreement made out for La Maresque stipulated:
“the obligation to tend the vines on the property under the direction of the owners and to yield a rent in nature of :

10 hectolitres of red wine
3 hectolitres of oats to be delivered at harvest
7 hectolitres of wheat to be delivered at harvest

100 kg of pork meat, delivered in December or January
2 unfattened geese, delivered in November
500 kg of dry firewood, delivered in January
4 bails of hay, delivered at harvest…”

La Maresque owes its name to the fact that the clayey ground on which it stands drains so easily. Just dig a hole anywhere and you create a pond (mare in French). In the lower field, a spring was captured – no-one knows when – and has been a reliable watering place ever since. According to the elderly locals who once worked the surrounding fields the source has never dried up. Even during the great drought at the start of the last century people came here for their water.

Less than 50 years ago, the house was still surrounded by the huge elms planted by its original inhabitants. Unfortunately they succumbed to the disease that has killed so many elms in France, but their memory lives in the beams and joists throughout the buildings, the beautiful patterns in their gnarled wood lovely to look at.

The last farmer of La Maresque retired in 1990, but there’s a chance you’ll bump into him on one of his walks…


–> Read The restauration work

Comments are closed.