The troglodyte village of La Madeleine in Périgord Noir

Tursac
Share The troglodyte village of La Madeleine in Périgord Noir
The troglodyte villag ...

La Madeleine is a sumptuous troglodyte village in the Périgord Noir, in Tursac. You know this village which refers to the Magdalenian period (remember our prehistory lessons!), because the foot of these cliffs has been occupied for 17,000 years by our ancestors. This rock which overlooks the Vézère Valley is bathed in sunshine, it has been a real little village since the end of the 9th century. We will discover the lifestyles of the inhabitants of the cliffs, the troglodytes, but also a fortified castle and a delicious chapel on the side of the rock. With the Vézère as a backdrop and its canoes plying it peacefully, it is a haven of peace, a well of culture and history! Do we dive into it together? On the way for a journey of the senses and the mind!

Photos and video of the report © Guide du Périgord



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La Madeleine, more than a tourist site, an era

It was in 1863 that the site of the Madeleine was discovered, it is a reference site, which even gave its name to a period of humanity, the Magdalenian (the last culture of the Upper Palaeolithic ). We discovered, thanks to archaeological excavations, a sumptuous sculpted mammoth tusk, engravings, tools, a human skeleton in an exceptional state of preservation, it is the child of the Madeleine. In 1979, the site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 1988, it finally opened to the public. Come and discover the history of its inhabitants, it's our history!


To go further and see the objects mentioned above, we recommend that you visit the MAAP, the Museum of Art and Archeology of Périgord, during your visit to Périgueux. Read our article report with video on the MAAP, to learn more about this museum.


Village of the Madeleine


The cliffs of the Madeleine have always been the refuge of humanity. Around the 10th century, the inhabitants of the surroundings took refuge there, they felt protected there thanks to the strategic position of this rock pierced with rock shelters, which overlooks a bend (a loop, a meander) of the river, while dominating a cultivable plain. We see the enemy coming from afar, we can protect ourselves by hiding, anticipating the assaults. A village was built then, with techniques of the time in wood and cob. By visiting the site, reproductions of these ephemeral constructions are in place, to understand their architecture. Stone remains are also visible, they are more contemporary (if one can say so!): it was during the Hundred Years War , very present in Périgord, that a lord and his family settled in these places. The ruins of the Château du Petit Marzac bear witness to this, as well as some very well-explained developments. You will even discover a charming private chapel. The cliffs of La Madeleine had a very late occupation, because the natural environment is generous: wood for heating and cooking, a cultivable plain for agriculture, the Vézère and its merchant character for trade. It was in 1870 that the last villagers left this site, which had fallen into disuse with modern life and its new lines of trade, travel and communication.


Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
Rock shelters to explore
Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
Pedagogical reconstructions, to learn and understand
Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
The medieval vegetable garden and the Château du Petit Marzac behind


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Visit the site of La Madeleine in Tursac

The village of la Madeleine is open from February to October (see their website for the exact dates). Several modes of visits are possible:

  • Guided tours are done with guides, it is the most lively way to immerse yourself in the rich history of this site. They last 1h15 and are organized several times a day, from Easter to All Saints' Day.

  • Self -guided visits, with or without an audio guide. Take your Smartphone and your headphones, download the audio tour guide. If you don't feel like it, be aware that interpretive panels line the tour path and you will benefit from a lot of interesting information to understand the site and its landscapes.

Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
The reception building
Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
Guided tours

Park in the dedicated car park, take a wooden footbridge to reach the reception building. A small museum is there, as well as a shop. The visit begins overlooking the site, we enjoy a splendid view of the cingle de la Vézère and the plain. It is a somewhat caustic environment, with small oak trees and low vegetation. We leave this plateau to walk along a path to the bottom of the cliff. Observe, smell, touch, we enter the lands of our ancestors!


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Troglodyte village of La Madeleine

Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
Trunk apiaries, a novelty in beekeeping!

The visit is linear, you will pass by reconstituted shelters in wood and cob, but also shelters under rocks which were occupied. We see tools, equipment, a forge, a quarry, a common oven also which was used for baking bread for the lord and the villagers. The visit is fun, you still have to observe where you put your feet, the ground can be uneven, it is nature that surrounds us!


Troglodyte village of La Madeleine

Troglodyte village of La Madeleine Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
Troglodyte village of La Madeleine

At the beginning or end of the day, the shadows stretch and project themselves, La Madeleine is bathed in an almost surreal, magical environment! In summer, the coolness of the shelters under rocks is appreciable, the tranquility of the stone constructions, moving. We go from prehistoric to medieval habitats, which we interpret thanks to the panels. Do not forget either that the Madeleine had a defensive vocation, to protect themselves the inhabitants had equipped the places with guard posts and other ingenious inventions, which can hurt! You will turn around to reach the Château Fort du Petit Marzac, at the level of the medieval vegetable garden. It dates from the Hundred Years War and is in ruins following a fire. However, it still has an interesting aspect and it represents a specific period of occupation of the place. Climb to the top, before returning to the reception building.


Troglodyte village of La Madeleine

Troglodyte village of La Madeleine Troglodyte village of La Madeleine

Troglodyte village of La Madeleine

Troglodyte village of La Madeleine

The peasant farm of La Madeleine, a new site to discover

The La Madeleine site is run by the Hamelin family. Charles, the dad, worked in management for more than 10 years, he was able to take over the site 5 years ago, which is now managed with Louis and Marie, brothers and sisters, who work to make it known with pedagogy . They are at work to offer tours, activities (workshops and activities available in summer), always renewed and interesting. Since 2019, the family has been able to acquire land in the alluvial plain and is working, through Marie, who is passionate about life, to revive a farm of yesteryear, a producer. A real work of agriculture, an open-air experience. Horses, sheep, pigs, we can speak here of organic farming, or even permaculture. Generous nature and in symbiosis, with respect and strong values! The bakery produces delicious bread, cooked over a wood fire, the small restaurant offers simple and tasty menus. Go for a walk and discover the history of the Madeleine through the memoirs of those who lived there. At the entrance to the site, an old tobacco barn presents a small museum, with panels explaining the use of each object of yesteryear. In the middle of the cackling hens, you will discover magnificent photos of those who brought La Madeleine to life.

We wish you a pleasant visit to La Madeleine, the troglodyte village in Tursac!


Troglodyte village of La Madeleine

Troglodyte village of La Madeleine Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
Troglodyte village of La Madeleine Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
Troglodyte village of La Madeleine Troglodyte village of La Madeleine
Troglodyte village of La Madeleine


Did you like our report? Find more on the Guide du Périgord blog . Join us on the Guide du Périgord Facebook page , we also have an Instagram account @guideduperigord


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