The Double's Forest

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The forest of the Double is a forest region which extends in the South of the departments of Charente-Maritime, Dordogne to the North of the Gironde. Bounded by Isle in the South and by Dronne in the North.

Sylva Edobola his name of origin what means eats limit (EDO: Food and BOLA: border, limits) because she encroaches in Angoumois, in Bordelais, in Périgord and in Saintonge. The Gallo-Romans then changed its name for " Saluts de Doblas " (woody and cultivated height).

It played for a long time the role of forest border because in the XIIth century, the part of the Double placed in Angoumois formed a southward promotion what represented the limit between the possessions of king of France and those of king of England (resulting from Eléonore's marriage with Henri Plantagenêt) and shape during the Hundred Years' War a border difficult to penetrate.


From the XVth century, an excessive deforestation of the forest massif is felt so much so that at the beginning of the XIXth century, the Double disappears giving way to vast uncultivated spaces. The clayey grounds let the water stagnate and rot, the poor population is thus in the grip of the fevers and of the malaria. Public authorities decide then to appeal to a community of Trappist monks stemming from the Abbey of Port-du-Salut, in Mayenne, which settles down to Echourgnac to restore life in the " country of the fevers " and to allow its populating and its development. These monks create numerous ponds and channels to clean up the forest, they also contributed to the opening of the agricultural roads, to the dryings out of swamps, then to the reforestation in maritime pines, in oaks tauzins, in sweet chestnut trees, alders …

Thanks to the purification of swamps, the breeding was able to be established. The monks based on the Trappe's Abbey of Echourgnac, created a cheese dairy there, this one collects the milk in the neighbouring farms. The exploitation was interrupted in 1910 when they left the abbey. Thirteen years later, in 1923 the abbey of Echourgnac was taken back by Cistercian sisters under the name of Abbey of Notre-Dame of Good Hope. Moniales then resumed in their account the elaboration of this cheese. It makes " Echourgnac's Trappe " one of the oldest cheeses of Périgord. In this abbey, lives at present a community of around thirty moniales sisters. The church visits and the shop proposes good numbers of products developed by the sisters: jams, fruit jellies and products stemming from nearby abbeys.

At the heart of the forest of the Double, the visitor can also discover the typical architecture of the Double with the Farm of Parcot's visit at Echourgnac, one of the last houses to skeleton wood of the region built in 1841. The domain is more than 46 hectares and belongs to the General Council of the Dordogne today. Some words on the doubleaude architecture: without foundations, the traditional houses were made by wood, by stone and by cob, a mixture of fat ground, straw or rushes where even of " palènes " which are big herbs of wood. Walls with timber framings were made with an assembly of girders in oak. The intervals were furnished with wooden wedges which retained a stuffing ( the cob), replaced often then by the flat brick. The set was fixed to a basis in carved stones.

From the XIIIth century, the internal walls are plastered and whitewashed in the lime, originally an only narrow window gave a little brightness, it was protected by a lace curtain; it is that to the XVIIIth century when appeared the glazing. The ground consisted of hard-packed surface or was covered with stone flat, of tiles of terra-cottas or simple pebbles were flooded in some mortar. For the roof, the English tile replaces gradually (at about XVth century) the thatch which consisted of rye or rushes. The périgourdin's roof very sloping (70 %) in 4 faces favors the fast flow of rainwater.

Until XVIIth century, the lodging house usually had a single entrance giving access to a unique room part, a ward of 10 m² approximately (the house often sheltered several family). Little by little, the ward got bigger with a room: this room was separated from the ward by a partition, it was intended for the host, for his wife and in very young children. The additional beds were in the ward. The kitchen sink was hired in a wall, with a shallow but sufficient pond to collect waste water which a drain evacuated towards the outside.

The stone or brick-built fireplace always present served first and foremost to cook. The life often got organized around the fireplace particularly in winter. The bacon, the hams or the sausages were suspended from the ceiling of the ward, as well as the basket with cheese. The attic acted as hairdryer: we stored cereal, garlic, onions there we reached it generally by a trapdoor by means of a sliding scale.

The wine storehouse was a small building attached to the north face of the barn or the lodging house. It served to store barrels or potatoes.

Other element of the périgourdine's architecture : " the balet ".It is a gallery open to the oceanic influence which gives a soft and wet climate characterized as a woody zone. Ponds allow the forest to have a floral wealth and important faunistique.  It offers to animals a wild and protected refuge and also welcomes endangered species of disappearance as the tortoise Cistude. We can also perceive there migratory birds which appreciate to get fresh ideas there and to feed there. The vegetation is constituted by broad-leaved trees, by oaks, by maritime pines, fern …

Thanks to her numerous marked out ways, she offers to her visitors and her tourists of the possibilities varied of relaxation, such as: pedestrian, cyclo-tourist, equestrian hikes, but also of leisure activities with the hunting, the peach without forgetting the ponds of Jemaye fitted out: natural vast space of 33 hectares, which proposes multiple activities: watched bathing, in summer of the games for children, observatory of ornithology.