The Villages
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The Villages

Tour of the Rural District of BellÍme (CDC)

BellÍme: 1597 inhabitants – 167 hectares [400 acres, 0.6 sq. miles]

  • Tour of the town of BellÍme:
    • View over the 18 hole BellÍme/St. Martin golf-course with its wonderful views of the surrounding forest and the countryside
  • A gymnasium built in 1974, renovated in 2007
  • A boules pitch created in 1991 and made indoor in 1998
  • An industrial park around the college, for which the CDC is responsible, with 4 serviced plots from 1600 to 2500 square metres in area
    • In 2008: establishment of an MOT testing station
    • In 2009: establishment of a farm machinery business
    • In 2009: establishment of a number of businesses (we welcome new businesses and support them in the start-up period): construction of 540 square metres of industrial units, 2 workshops (joinery and plumbing), a lecture room, an office with secretarial services
    • We plan to open a telecentre (offices with I.T. and telecommunication equipment for teleworkers)

Serigny: 390 inhabitants – 1500 hectares [3600 acres, 5.79 sq. miles]

  • The Community centre, built in 2005 (a multi-function room, a dojo, [martial arts hall] a club-house, a kitchen, and certified changing-rooms for football players):
    • In the same building is a public ICT centre available for everyone who wants to use new communication technology
    • Greater BellÍme is an important activity centre (ranking 2nd in the Perche) for businesses, facilities and services
    • A project to extend the activity centre is being developed around “La Croix Verte” in Serigny (30 hectares) [72 acres].
  • Le Ch‚teau du Tertre, in the style of Louis XIII, was where the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1937, Roger Martin du Gard, lived. From its “French style” grounds there is a panoramic view over BellÍme and the forest

Dame-Marie: 175 inhabitants – 1327 hectares [3317 acres, 5.12 sq. miles]

  • In the heart of a winding valley, the village of Dame-Marie has grown around a priory built in about 1023.
  • In the centre of the village stands the church of “Notre Dame”, restored in 2006
  • The 19th century steeple was demolished and replaced by one made of chestnut shingles. It weighs 7 tons
  • The restoration of the west front, the addition of the stone porch and the oak portal have returned the church to its original Romanesque style.

La Chapelle-SouŽf: 294 inhabitants – 1113 hectares [2671 acres, 4.2 sq. miles]

  • The “Ferdi Postuma de BOňR” open space was created in 1999.
  • The playing field and the orchard are at the heart of village life.
  • Ferdi Postuma de BOňR, former vice-chairman of the Twinning Association, was born in 1930 in Amsterdam. He was an internationally renowned musician and painter. He moved into “Le Moulin Neuf” [the new mill] in 1968. He found peace and a favourable environment for his creative work in the Perche.
  • For many years, Ferdi and GŁnter Kurth, the first chairman of the StŁhlingen Twinning Association, exchanged more than a hundred illustrated letters.
  • Le Ch‚teau des Feugerets, a late 15th century nobleman’s residence, is surrounded by deep moats.

Appenai-Sous-BellÍme : 237 inhabitants – 1074 hectares. [2577 acres, 4.1 sq. miles] 

  • An attractive village: the steeple of the church “St. Germain d’Auxerre” can be seen from a long way off
  • Inside the church, the panelled vault takes the form of an inverted ship’s hull; in the centre of the Louis XIII style retable  is a painting, “The Adoration of the Magi”. It was restored last year, thanks to the “Appenai Heritage Association”
  • In 2001, a ground use plan created 17 building plots for new houses, to meet the demand for new homes from families who want to settle in the village

Ige: 701 inhabitants – 2786 hectares [6686 acres] 

  • 2003: development of the business park. Relocation of the CGR factory to this area (70 employees)
  • 2006: a workshop was built to provide temporary help for new enterprises (carpentry and joinery)
  • Within the parish is Le Ch‚teau de Lonnť, in the style of Louis XIII, with  its English style landscape grounds, created in the 19th century

Vaunoise: 111 inhabitants, 765 hectares [1836 acres, 2.95 sq. miles] 

  • Our visit wais by kind permission of the owners of Le Ch‚teau des Chaises, M. and Mme. de Caffarelli.
  • Le Ch‚teau des Chaises was constructed around 1860 on the site of an older building and is a large edifice in the style of Louis XIII
  • The place name “Chaises”  derives from the Latin word “casa”, hut, house, property, as does “chez” [“at the home of”]
  • The village of Vaunoise is located at the foot of a hill. From Merovingian times [5th century], vines were extensively cultivated here, up until the severe frosts of 1777. Today, the hillside is covered by woodland, and forms a green backdrop to a beautiful group of typically Percheron houses

Chemilli: 245 inhabitants – 1092 hectares [2698 acres 4.2 sq.miles]

  • The village still shows traces of flax cultivation, which flourished in the 19th century in the Perche. There are two stone ovens adjoining the buildings of the former St. Germain priory.
  • Flax was used to make boat rigging and sails. Foreign competition and the arrival of cotton hit production, which stopped completely in the Perche after 1945. The ovens were used to dry the flax. They consisted of two levels, with the flax laid out on the one which was heated by a cast-iron grate full of coke, a fuel which burns without flame.

Le Gue de la Chaine: 770 inhabitants – 1864 hectares [4606 acres, 7.2 sq.miles] 

  • BellÍme National Forest covers 605 hectares of the village area. The village was formed in 1872 when it separated from St. Martin du Vieux BellÍme. A small stream called “La CalabriŤre” crosses it, and the name of the village [Chain Ford] comes from the cable which extended across the stream to make the crossing of the brook easier

St. Martin du Vieux BellÍme: 649 inhabitants – 1588 hectares [3924 acres, 6.1 sq. miles] 

  • In the pretty village centre can be seen the former Benedictine priory where Blanche de Castille and St. Louis stayed. [King Louis IX of France and his mother]
  • Beautifully carved stalls are to be found in the church
  • The town hall was renovated in 2002
  • At the edge of the forest is the hamlet of La BruyŤre, a former clog-makers’ and sawyers’ village which was very active until the beginning of the 20th century

La Foret Domaniale de BellÍme (BellÍme National Forest):

  • Covering 2428 hectares,[6000 acres, 9.4 sq. miles. It is 11kms long and 3 kms wide. Different species of trees grow there: oak (66 %,), beech (22%), Scots pines (9%), silver fir (2%), other conifers (1%)
  • In the middle of the 17th century, Colbert, a minister during the reign of Louis XIV, faced with the deplorable state of the forest, decided to undertake wholesale reform to exploit the important resources effectively. He changed the forest into one with mature oak and beech trees
  • After that, the forest was considered to have the finest stock of ship-building timber in the Kingdom, thanks to the remarkable quality of the oak
  • The quality of its oak and beech timber is recognised all over Europe
  • The jewel in the crown is the School-Oak, which is more than 300 years old (400m high, 1.35m diameter)
  • A forest tradition was born which continues to our day
  • The National Forestry Office (O.N.F.), a public body which operates industrially and commercially, is responsible for the management of the forest
  • A large variety of animals live in the forest: hares, woodcocks, foxes, pheasants, deer and wild boar. Shooting and hunting with hounds are organised.
  • The forest provides many opportunities for walking and riding
  • The long-distance footpath No G.R. 22: Paris-Le Mont St.Michel, crosses the wood from east to west
  • The fitness circuit within parish of St Martin is laid out with obstacles over a distance of 1231m. La Herse Lake was created in 1780 and is a pleasant spot for a walk
  • The Herse Fountain is in the village of Eperrais; it is mentioned at the beginning of the 17th century and was noted in the 19th for its mineral properties, just like the waters of Bagnoles de l’Orne, the county spa town

Eperrais: 118 inhabitants – 1412 hectare 

  • The village of Eperrais surrounds a delightful Romanesque church, which is being restored by the “Eperrais Heritage Association”. The priory of “ChÍnegallon”, founded in about 1100, lies at the edge of the forest. It became a private residence during the French Revolution.
  • The following parishes, which we shall not be visiting, form an integral part of the CDC

Pouvrai: 112 inhabitants – 680 hectares. 

  • The village houses are grouped around the church “Notre Dame de la Nativitť”
  • From the road, one can see a castle in the style of Louis XIII. It was built in 1880;   the second cousins of Empress Josťphine, the De Tasher family, lived there in the past

St. Fulgent des Ormes: 166 inhabitants – 832 hectares. 

  • In the centre of the village, on one of the church walls, a painted typically Percheron sundial is to be admired
  • Two flax ovens stand near the 18th century house “Le Logis” 

Origny Le Butin: 116 inhabitants – 457 hectares. 

  • The forest covers 163 hectares of the parish area. The houses are grouped around the church “ St. Germain d’Auxerre”
  • The long distance footpath No.G.R.22 crosses the village

Traduction : Martine O, Michel O et Veronica A

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