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Below is a map of the area, which mainly features the river Creuse valley. La Jarrige is ringed in the bottom right corner. On the left side of the map is the beginning of the Brenne National Park and the Abloux river area. There're a million things you could say about the area so I'll keep this relatively brief and concentrate on the stuff that's of particular interest to me. You can always Google the rest.
I'll start from the top and work around the map clockwise.

St Marcel

At the top of the map is St Marcel. This used to be known as Argentomagus in Gallo Roman times and was the main settlement in the area - because of this history it now has a wealth of roman remains. The foundations of the roman town are just outside the existing one and there is a state of the art museum on site. There is also a huge roman theatre cut into the side of the hill overlooking the town of Argenton. It was dug out of accumulated debris only in the last hundred years. The existing town of St Marcel began life as a medieval priory. The safety of its fortifications attracted non-clergy (like St Benoit Du Sault, down the road) and I suppose the clergy became out numbered. The advantage of that history is that it now has a beautiful medieval ecclesiastical landscape.


A few kilometres down the hill from St Marcel is Argenton-Sur-Creuse. This is the largest town on the map; having medieval origins and a river that divides it between the high and low town.
It took over from Argentomagus sometime in the early middle-ages and became famous as a textile town. It still has an amazing amount of Renaissance houses which drape over the river from the high town side.


A few kilometres south of Argenton on a river of the same name is Gargillesse. Although it says Gargillesse-Dampierre on the map, the latter is actually a few kilometres away, and we're talking about Gargillesse here. This place looks like a film set, but not so perfect as to be artificial. There's a whole cluster of beautiful medieval buildings perched on a rocky outcrop, surrounding an ancient château and church. George Sand, the nineteenth century, writer spent some time here and the place is known for its thriving arts community. The church contains some amazingly intact thirteenth century frescoes and the tomb of a thirteenth century crusader - shame about the sixties-style hanging lights.

Cuzion and La Jarrige

The next stop south of Gargillesse and along the line of the river Creuse is Cuzion. This is a pretty village which is also the commune centre for the area. It contains the local mayor's office, which is the administrative headquarters for a designated region. It also has a lovely romanesque church and all the usual things to be expected in a french village, e.g. bakers, bar and post office.

Within the Cuzion commune and two kilometres south east is La Jarrige, where our adventures are in full swing.


A couple of kilometres south east of La Jarrige, along the eastern border of Lac d'Éguzon, is the village of Bonnu. The lake was a manmade one and the Creuse river was dammed in 1926, providing hydro-electric power to the region as well as a leisure amenity and drowning a village in the process. Apparently the lake is to be drained this year for general maintenance - should be interesting. The dam is known as the Barrage d'Éguzon. The village itself is high above the lake shore and the beach, which bears its name, is almost a vertical ride away down the side of the hill to the lake. Bonnu has a beautiful château, which has been sensitively restored. It used to be part of a ring of defensive châteaux, along with Éguzon, Châteaubrun, Crozant and Prune-au-Pot.


Just before the river crossing to Éguzon on a hill outside the villages of Cuzion and La Jarrige and on the opposite side of the river from Montcocu, is the fortress of Châteaubrun. It pokes up above the trees on the hill road to Cuzion and keeps disappearing at every bend. It looks like a small single tower from the road, but looks are deceptive and this place is a sizeable château. The land to build the place was reputably given to Hugues IX by Richard Coeur de Lion. So it has an ancient lineage and is now a Chambre d'Hote. The second photo is the river Creuse looking towards the Éguzon barrage.


Across the river and up the other side of the Creuse valley is Éguzon. The lake and barrage are named after the place and there's a nice beach on the Éguzon side of the lake called Chambon. Éguzon is a quiet market town with an ancient 12th century château surrounding the local mayor's office. The town hosts a wednesday morning market in the square and every November, a chestnut fair.

St Benoit du Sault

West of the Creuse river is St Benoit du Sault - bottom left on the map. This is a medieval hilltop town which stands on the Porte-Feuille river. It was established by monks from the monastery of St Benoit in the Loire sometime in the tenth century. They fortified it against marauding robber barons and in doing so made it an attractive and safe haven for settlement in general. It has managed to retain its medieval charm perched up on the walled rock.


About 6 kilometres north of St Benoit du Sault is Abloux. Now this is pretty much off the map but because we've lived here for over half a year we do have a certain soft spot for the place and have had time to appreciate its not insignificant charms. Abloux is within the commune of St Gilles and straddles the D1 which connects St Benoit du Sault with Argenton-Sur-Creuse. The village is perched on the eastern slope of the Abloux valley and is dominated by a modest though beautiful château. On the opposite side of the valley is Chazelet which attempts to compete with Abloux in the my-village-has-the-best-château competition. That's its château, bottom right. Naturally being a bit partisan I plump for Abloux.