I took another field trip out of town yesterday, to yet another privately owned chateau in the hinterlands of Paris, just past the industrial zone but not yet quite into the real countryside. And after visits to Fontainebleau on Monday, the newly renovated Hotel Talleyrand on Tuesday, and the American ambassador's residence on Thursday, I think I hit the interior decoration wall, pretty much going into a deep coma while the lady of the house described the furniture and the pedigrees of the ancestors whose portraits adorned the walls.
And then she took us out back to visit the pigeonnier and that's when my mind snapped back to consciousness. A pigeonnier, also known as a columbier, is basically a gigantic bird house but when I say gigantic, I mean, really really really big. It's got niches for 4,500 birds. Take a look.
Back in the day, you had to get the king's permission to have one of these and it was really indispensable, both in providing food for the domaine (in the form of both meat and eggs) and fertilizer for the vegetable gardens. So important was the latter (known as colombine) that it actually got mentioned in dowries.
Here's a look from the outside. The tower at the top was just for aeration. The pigeons themselves flew in and out of the tiny window (and one opposite). The lip below the window is designed to keep any rats, who might try scurrying up the side in search of dinner, from reaching their quarry. And just for good measure, that black strip below the lip is made of slate, making it extra slippery for those rats who are successful in scaling the wall.
Beyond the pigeonnier, the chateau de Saint-Jean de Beauregard also has a spectacular garden where the peonies and irises are currently magnifique and the roses are just getting started. A arts festival is on tap for the weekend of the 12th and 13th of June, so if you have a car and the weather is fine, you might consider making the trip.
Saint-Jean de Beauregard
28 km south of Paris in the Essone