St Denis des Murs

Chateau Duffy is located in the centre of a small village – St Denis des Murs – which can be found around half an hour’s drive east of Limoges. Wikipedia lists it as having a population of just over 500, meaning that when the Chateua Duffy crew descends, we increase the local population by nearly 5%. For some reason, I’d never thought to work out the origin of the village’s name – until last week.

Gare. St Denis des Murs.La Gare. It’s actually a good 20mins walk from the main village, thanks to the hills… 

Towards the end of the trip, I had a sudden epiphany. ‘Murs’ meant ‘walls’ – how had I forgotten that?! After all, one of my GCSE French oral speeches was a description of my 15 year old self’s bedroom, which obviously included: “Mes murs des affiches de Blur et Keanu Reeves sur eux.” [“My walls have posters of Blur and Keanu Reeves on them.”] Why was the village named for St Denis and some walls? Wikipedia again came to my rescue. Turns out the Gauls built a large fortification in the region, and remains of the walls are thought to be near the village. And St Denis? He’s the patron saint of Paris, was beheaded on the hill that’s now Montmartre, and walked 10km holding his head in his hands…

Once all this had been figured out, it made perfect sense and became incredibly apt. What had I spent a considerable amount of time staring at last week? Walls. One wall – on the back of the house – specifically. In fact, even more specifically, the uppermost point of that wall. It was the seemingly never-ending mission to point it. We’re still not finished in fact.

The wallMy view for a considerable length of time. Words can barely describe the ache in my arms after a day of chipping mortar out from between those bricks.

I’d like to think that St Denis and his cut-off head was watching over us, ensuring that none of us lost our heads, or any other part of our anatomy for that matter. With every trip that passes, I’m growing more accustomed to scaling the heights of the scaffold, and this trip saw me spend the best part of three days atop of a 20 foot rig. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel safe enough to dance up there (unlike my scaffold building team-mate), but I was fairly happy once I’d donned a harness and tied myself on to a metal pole.

I'm on top of the world...On top of the world, safely attached to the scaffold. Incidentally, there’s no ladder to get up there. I’ve developed a incredible (given past life experiences) knack of scampering up the scaffold poles.

I think the locals are finally coming to terms with our sporadic visits. The next door neighbour is happier with our antics. The Mayor is very glad the historic house and barn are being repaired. We’ve even discovered a couple of ex-pat Brits. It’s a good job they like us, as I’m very much looking forward to the holidays I can have there once the building’s finally, finally finished. [In case you’re wondering, we reckon it’s only another 2 trips till the barn’s habitable. Then there’s just the house…]


  1. “…it’s only another 2 trips till the barn’s habitable…”
    Oh my aching sides! That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages…

    • Mike said the same last night…
      When I say ‘we reckon’, obviously I refer to Shannon & Eric. Got to say, I doubt it too.

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