Pigeonniers - rural French architecture

These are one of the most interesting rural architectural styles in France, with many examples still in existence in north-east Aquitaine.

Originally the pigeonniers were used for breeding and raising pigeons for food to the owners. Their characteristics typically include:

Legs, often stone but sometimes in wood, raise the building off the floor - this serves to protect the wooden structure from ground moisture, and also (more importantly) to stop rats, foxes and other vermin from entering the building and eating the pigeon eggs.

These stone legs are typically a couple of metres long - although there are also pigeonniers that don't have these legs or where the gaps between the legs have been filled in over the centuries.

pigeonnier in south-west France

A raised main room where the pigeons can enter and leave in peace, through small windows in the roof or walls. This room will also have a hatch or doorway for people to enter.

The room is typically made from colombage (half-timbered) and has a steep tiled roof.

A variant on this architecture - many farms, although not having a separate pigeonnier, will have a tower adjacent to an existing building which serves the same purpose.

Modern use

Although some pigeonnniers are still used for their traditional purpose, many of those that remain have fallen to abandon.

Happily others have been saved and are serving a 'second life' by being converted to 'holiday rental' accommodation - many a small gite is found in an old pigeonnier!