A brief look back at a significant area of influence, of which Le Bugue — at the heart of the Black Périgord — remains the beating heart.

by Sophie Cattoire

It was the time of Abbeys and their Mills – An example with the Frankish hundred of Albuca, which saw the birth in the year 1000 of the convent of Dame Adélaïde, at the crossroads of the Ladouch stream and the Vézère river.


In the middle of the Middle Ages, there was a major energy transition that deeply transformed society. We invite you to grasp the extent of this transformation through the example of the development of a group of villages, then medieval parishes of Périgord. They were all under the leadership of Albuca and were all caught up from the year 1000 in the rapid emergence of abbeys and their mills.

There was indeed a timely encounter, a prodigious collision, at the origin of a progressive revolution in techniques and customs. After the first dynasty of the Frankish Kings, that of the Merovingians, pagan Germanic barbarians who became Christians to survive, it was necessary to wait for the Carolingian Renaissance for the Catholic Church to truly acquire a central place in medieval society.

This surge of piety was accompanied by numerous donations of real estate, including farms and their mills, from wealthy members of the knighthood. They hoped to ensure the salvation of their souls through the purchase of "indulgences," which in this case translated into donations of part of their heritage. And it was precisely at this moment that the mastery of hydraulic power, through the mills, would put an end to slavery, inherited from Roman law and still shamelessly practiced by the Merovingians.

This renewable energy would replace the force of slaves and animal traction. Medieval society would replace the forced manual labor of men and beasts with the continuous rotation of mill wheels day and night.

This transformation was fully experienced by the archpriesthood of Albuca, the oldest in Dordogne, where the convent of Benedictines of Dame Adélaïde was established in the year 1000. Albuca, its Gaulish name, then became Albuga, its Occitan name, and ultimately Le Bugue, its French name that we know today. In present-day Bugue, one can still find some traces of this flourishing past.

On the edge of the clear Ladouch stream that crosses the village before flowing into the Vézère river, the Moulin de La Barde has preserved its medieval castle-like architecture. It contributed to every mission entrusted to mills since the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution. Daily bread, oil for lighting homes, leather, sheets, woolens, ropes, and finally electric power to supply the entire village of Le Bugue thanks to its turbines, it has given everything in turn and remains standing to testify.

A look back at this forgotten medieval revolution with the example of Albuca, a Frankish hundred that became Albuga in Occitan, and then Le Bugue, inheritor of this past that still holds its charm and continues to enjoy powerful attractiveness.


The choice of landscapes to settle in after the nomadic Prehistory, 10,000 years ago, is characterized by mature and wise thinking. The lively waters of the Ladouch stream — "The Source" in Occitan — splash the hillsides of a fertile valley before flowing into the Vézère River. It floods, in turn, vast undulating plains through its sinuous meanders.

Le Bugue, view from the Cingle, painting by AM Fauconnier
Le Bugue, view from the Cingle, painting by AM Fauconnier
The Ladouch flows into the Vézère at Le Bugue, aerial view
The Ladouch flows into the Vézère at Le Bugue, aerial view

A carved stone block, found among the ruins of the old Saint-Vincent church in Badefols-sur-Dordogne, will allow us to open a window onto the territory called "Albuca" between 481 and 751 Anno Domini, during the Merovingian era. Let's put ourselves in context.

After successfully invading Gaul (Alesia, 52 Before Christ), the Roman Empire was in turn driven out by the invasions of many barbarians that led to its fall in 476. Among these invaders, it was the Franks, barbarians of Germanic origin, who had the final say. A clever strategist, their leader Clovis managed to outmaneuver the Alamans and the Burgundians, while also dislodging the Visigoths who were already settled. In the process, he managed to win the favor of the Gallo-Romans by conveniently converting to Christianity. By becoming in the year 496 the first Christian king of France, he magically made people forget his heavy past as a bloodthirsty pagan barbarian. He traded the toad on his coat of arms for the famous iris flower, which allegedly ensured his victory.

Clovis receiving the fleur-de-lis, Illuminations from the Bedford Hours, 15th century
Clovis receiving the fleur-de-lis, Illuminations from the Bedford Hours, 15th century

According to the historian Louis Girard, the fleur-de-lis were originally iris flowers. In 507, the Battle of Vouillé pitted the army of the Visigoths under Alaric II against the Frankish army. Clovis' warriors, outnumbered, were pushed into the marshes of the swollen Vienne River. Not knowing how to escape this trap, they had a lifesaving vision. A deer appeared out of nowhere and peacefully crossed the Vienne River at a ford lined with tall yellow irises. The presence of these flowers up to the bank revealed a passage on stable ground that could be crossed by Clovis' armies. This sign from the marsh irises against the blue sky allowed the Franks to get out of this predicament and defeat the Visigoths. This victory was decisive and constituted the founding act of the Frankish kingdom, extending its vast territory from the Loire to the Pyrenees.


How did these Frankish warriors establish lasting roots throughout Gaul? By drawing inspiration from the tactics of the Roman legions they had witnessed in action. On freshly conquered lands, the Franks established a garrison. A troop of one hundred armed men, led by an officer. The Romans called him the centurion, the Franks would call him the "centenier." This leader had at his disposal to feed his men a surrounding territory called the "hundred." Having managed not without difficulty to drive out the previous invaders, the Franks likely wanted to materialize their victory by establishing military colonies, hundreds, and by surveying the lands. This is the analysis of François Michel, PhD in History and Archaeology of Antiquity. He presents it in his study entitled "Annibert the centenier and the Frankish domain of Villadeix" published in the bulletin of the Historical and Archaeological Society of Périgord – Volume CXLIII – Year 2016.

Below, we present the only known vestige to date of a Frankish hundred established in Périgord, under the Merovingian dynasty. A stone block engraved with writings, deciphered by this researcher who has provided us with these two photographs. This precious block is now located in Périgueux, in the collections of the Museum of Art and Archaeology of Périgord.

Vestige of the Frankish hundred of Albuca Face 1
The study by François Michel, PhD in History and Archaeology of Antiquity, entitled "Annibert the centenier and the Frankish domain of Villadeix" allows us to decipher the inscriptions engraved on this limestone block. According to the author, these inscriptions date back to the Merovingian era. In Latin, it reads: "Aniberto cintenario pedatora villatessa Francorum" which can be translated as "Annibert was the centenier, the measure of the Villatessa of the Franks (was carried out)."
Vestige of the Frankish hundred of Albuca Face 2
Here is the other face of this corner stone from a vanished building. This boundary marker constitutes the only vestige of the Frankish hundred that occupied in the 6th century a vast territory around Le Bugue. These one hundred armed men provisioned themselves in the agricultural estates of around twenty parishes, including the domain of Villadeix (Villatessa in Latin) located near Vergt.


Thanks to collections of ancient documents from churches and monasteries of young Christian France, we learn that in the 6th century, the Dordogne was occupied by three Frankish hundreds located one in Nontron, the other in Petit-Bersac, and the third in Albuca. Here we are... Why was Le Bugue called Albuca at that time? Because that was its Gaulish name! The Gauls had the habit of naming places according to the nature of their soil, which determined the choice of crops. Albuca refers to a clayey and heavy soil. A good soil for cereals, vines, fodder, and meadows. This name of Albuca was later taken up to baptize the hundred that the Franks established there. A territory large enough to be able to sustain, in addition to its population and thanks to it, a military colony of one hundred able-bodied men, the famous hundred, therefore. How do we know this? In two ways:

In the cartulary of Saint-Martin de Limeuil preserved in the Benedictine Annals, Canon Hippolyte Brugière found a document from the year 856 AD setting the terms of a donation. That of the Church of Sainte-Radegonde in the village of Millac* as well as the goods of its parish, namely all its buildings, lands, vineyards, meadows, streams. All located "in centena Albucensis," that is, in the hundred of Albuca. A territory that stretched from North to South from Millac d'Auberoche to Limeuil, and from West to East from Trémolat to Sireuil. This Merovingian hundred of Albuca contained the parishes of the following municipalities: Le Bugue, Limeuil, Paunat, Saint-Avit-de-Vialard, Campagne, Saint-Cirq, Manaurie, Journiac, Savignac, Fleurac, Mauzens-Miremont, Saint-Cernin-de-Reillac, Saint-Félix-de-Reillac, Mortemart, La Douze, Saint-Geyrac, and Millac d'Auberoche.

Furthermore, in the Gallia Christiana which traces the history of Christian France, the "Villa Albuca" is mentioned in the year 936 AD, where "villa" in Latin refers to a group of agricultural estates.

* The municipality of Millac is now called Millac d'Auberoche.

On this map of the Diocese of Sarlat drawn by Jean Tarde in 1624, we have highlighted the influence zone of the Frankish hundred of Albuca in the 6th century. It encompassed about twenty surrounding parishes. Its boundaries would define those of the archpriesthood that would succeed it in the 10th century.

It is indeed under the name of Albuca that the village of Le Bugue, as well as about twenty surrounding parishes, will experience, starting from the year 1000, a notable development. Thanks to a couple from the nobility, founder of an Abbey. This Abbey will have full authority over the entire extent of the former Frankish hundred which became in the 10th century an archpriesthood, the intermediate territorial level between the parish and the diocese.


It is important to remember that in a final gasp before its decline, the Roman Empire shifted from paganism to Christianity overnight. Out of opportunism and pragmatism. While conversions to Christianity were booming, the Empire itself risked imploding, unless it attempted to unite its peoples around a common ideal. The religion of the One God became the state religion in the year 380. Polytheistic temples were destroyed or transformed into churches. Pagan resistors were persecuted or massacred. The Roman Empire was not really saved by its last-minute spiritual reversal. It collapsed nonetheless. So, when the Middle Ages began, at the end of Antiquity, immersed in Roman decay and the convalescence of barbaric times, Europe was literally on its knees.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, was beginning to make good progress, and to ensure smooth sailing, it revived a practice inherited from Roman law. To soften manners and fill coffers, it encouraged the practice of "indulgences". By undertaking pilgrimages, mortifications, and prayers, or even better by giving a portion of their wealth to the Church, generous believers could completely erase their sins. The possibility of making donations to secure a place in paradise would appeal to many members of the wealthy knighthood.

The Carrying of the Cross, oil on panel, Hieronymus Bosch, 1510-1535, Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent
Through the terrified expressions of the figures accompanying Christ to Golgotha where he will be crucified, Hieronymus Bosch masterfully portrays the fear of damnation and the flames of Hell. This fear promoted the trade of indulgences in the Middle Ages, which were supposed to redeem the sins of believers in their entirety.
The Carrying of the Cross, oil on panel, Hieronymus Bosch, 1510-1535, Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent


It is in this context that Dame Adélaïde and her husband Sir Grimoald, Lady and Lord of Montignac, decided to transfer, in the year 964, the real estate they owned in Le Bugue and its surroundings, to the abbot of Paunat and his monks. Among the Latin manuscripts from the Abbey of Saint-Martial de Limoges, this decisive sales deed dated the tenth year of the reign of King Lothair was found by the archivist Jean-Léon Dessalles in the imperial library of Paris. And it is with great joy that I can read it to you here..

"I, Grimoald, and Adelaïde, my wife, selling by common consent, declare, in the name of God, to have sold, on this principle, to a man named Guigues, abbot of Paunat, monastery of our allodium*, in the Périgord territory, in the hundred of Le Bugue, in the town called Albuca, and in another town called Apabone, a town which has come to us as an inheritance from our cousin Basen, all that we have and possess there, and which is known to belong to us, except for the church of Saint-Sulpice. We sell, we say, to the aforementioned holy place, to Abbot Guigues, who is also abbot of Saint-Salvador or of Saint-Martial, and to the monks who honor God in the said convent of Paunat, all that it encompasses in lands, fields, forests, vineyards, meadows, mills, fisheries, and the port served by boatmen, whether cultivated or to be cultivated, recognized or to be recognized on the banks of the river Vézère; for which sale, we receive from you the price that I have agreed upon, of my own free will, between us and you, namely two hundred silver sols, and so that, from this day forth, you may enjoy, hold, possess, and do, in all things, as you please, without opposition, from anyone, as a repeat, which I do not believe should be done; if we or any of our heirs, or any other person assigned for this purpose, should go against this sale, whoever it may be, let them incur first the wrath of the Almighty, and with Dathan and Abiram and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord, let them burn forever in hell, and let them not obtain what they claim."

* From our "allodium": Land freed from all fees in the Middle Ages.

Pensive duck couple on the banks of the Vézère in Le Bugue
Unable to present portraits of Dame Adélaïde and Sir Grimoald de Montignac, that to our knowledge do not exist, I leave it to your imagination and humbly offer you the image of this united couple tenderly contemplating the memory of the Abbey of Albuca.
Le Bugue, the Atlantis of the Black Périgord
The history of this Abbey from the year 1000 still holds many surprises. In its own way, it is still there, as we will see.

By doing so, Dame Adélaïde and Sir Grimoald partially disinherit their descendants. This is likely the reason why, to avoid any lawsuits, mention is made at the end of the deed of the wrath of the Almighty that would strike any impious challenger. How do we know that Dame Adélaïde, in particular, harbored a pious desire in parting with her beloved hundred of Le Bugue? Thanks to a manuscript written at the beginning of the 13th century, found in the records of the Abbey of Le Bugue, on which one can read the following:

"The lady who built Le Bugue was named Adélaïde, and she built the convent in honor of Saint-Marcel (...) She gave this as a domain to God and to the house of Saint-Marcel and Saint-Salvador, and built Le Luc in their honor (...)"

The abbess and her Benedictine nuns, knowing they owe a great debt to their founder and benefactress, never fail to celebrate her memory every year, on the eve of Saint Luke's Day:

"The abbess must present a candle each year in commemoration of the anniversary of Dame Adélaïde, who built the Abbey of Le Bugue and gave Le Luc, and the candle must burn, at night, before Dame Adélaïde who was from Montignac."


So here we have about twenty parishes of the Black Périgord fallen into the hands of the Church, with the aim of establishing in their capital, Albuca, a convent of Benedictine nuns. Thanks to this containment, austerity managed to rhyme with prosperity. Certainly, the Benedictine order is strict. Pray, read, and work – ora, lege, et labora – such is the rule of Saint Benedict. However, the perimeter of an abbey protects its flock. This bubble benefits from a status of no man's land. Let me explain.

  • Cooks, bakers, butchers, and tavern keepers who belong to the Monastery are subject to its sole law.
  • Millers, blacksmiths, and other men of the Abbess are freed from the corvée and the host, meaning they are exempt from the obligation to go to war under the leadership of the Lord who, having ceded his property, has renounced his prerogatives.
  • Sisters, and a fortiori the prioress and the sacristan, escape forced marriages and strenuous pregnancies, in the demand for male heirs.

Since the beginning of this new millennium, many Ladies from the first houses of the Périgord have taken the veil and then made their profession. In short, it is the only career offered to them.

In the Monastery, in contact with them, the nuns learn poise, reading, writing, and even the basics of medicine so that they can go and help the villagers.

Summary judgments, absurd wars, domestic violence, and crass ignorance, ultimately, are things we can do without. And that is also what made the success of the abbeys.

The Virgin with Musician Angels, oil on canvas, Brother François Mes (1892-1983)
© Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Paul de Wisques
On the Opal Coast, the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Paul de Wisques exhibited, during the autumn of 2021, the luminous work of Brother François Mes, a monk and artist (1892-1983). One glimpses the gentleness and delicacy that the nuns and the entire village community hoped to find alongside the abbesses, in the convents that flourished all over France at the beginning of the millennium.


The bloodthirsty raids of Viking hordes from the late 10th century still haunt memories. In the aftermath of those troubled times, religious communities represent a haven of peace. And though hard work is the price to pay, a major upheaval is soon to prove beneficial. The providence for these Catholic enclaves of the new millennium is the rapid development of mills along the riverbanks. Their hydraulic power will replace the hand or animal-powered millstone, an energy transition that will change everything.


The Roman Empire remained slave-based, with no search for alternative means of production. In France, the use of slaves was still tolerated under the Merovingian dynasties, which were still somewhat barbaric on the edges, albeit Christian.

With the Carolingian Renaissance, increased fervor gave the Church a central place in society. The Church then instituted the "Truce of God." This peace of God aimed to protect ecclesiastical possessions, the number of which increased thanks to numerous donors eager to ensure the salvation of their souls after death.

CThis led to mills, originally under the control of local lords, changing hands. During the first half of the 11th century, from the year 1000 to 1050, in this fervor of piety, mills and their dependencies massively integrated into the Church's property, either through sale or donation.

Illumination from 'Life and Miracles of Saint Louis', Guillaume de Saint-Pathus, France, 14th century
In this illumination by Jean Pucelle illustrating "Life and Miracles of Saint Louis" written by Guillaume de Saint-Pathus in the 14th century, we can see what water mills looked like in the medieval period.
SSource: Paris, BnF, Department of Manuscripts, French 5716 fol. 288
© Bibliothèque nationale de France (© National Library of France)
Water Mill, Wind – Book of Accounts of the Old Rentier (circa 1270) – Royal Library – Brussels
On the website of the Federation of Mills of France, we discover this image illustrating the historical inquiry by Michel Lepetit: "XIᵉ – XIIIᵉ siècle, la première transition énergétique française" ("11th - 13th century, the first French energy transition.").
An article published in Le Monde des Moulins No. 59 - January 2017 - Source: https://fdmf.fr

These mills used the kinetic energy of water, renewable and abundant. All banks near other resources – cereals, nuts, oak bark, hemp, flax, wool – equipped themselves with hydraulic mills with increasingly sophisticated mechanisms and higher yields.

At a time when food was mainly composed of cereals in the form of bread or porridge, this progress would feed many more people while freeing up labor that could cultivate previously fallow land.


Both the Cistercians and the Benedictines played a significant role in spreading this technological innovation throughout Europe. Their agricultural complexes located outside the monasteries became veritable model farms. It must be imagined that the term "mill" at this time encompassed a dream entity. The sale of a mill, as detailed in ancient deeds, typically included: a pond, a mill composed of rotating and stationary millstones, a miller's house, barns, stables, and other buildings, a courtyard, a garden, a hemp field, vineyards, and meadows.

Hostie Mill, painted in 1470, Ulm Museum, Germany
This "Hostie Mill," painted in 1470 and preserved in the collections of the Ulm Museum in Germany, uses the same coded language as the Arcanum 21 of the Marseille Tarot. On the upper part of the image, the four elements are represented. Fire by the lion, earth by the bull, air by the eagle, and water by the angel. In the center, the Virgin completes this evocation of the origin of the World. This virgin and her acolytes pour wheat into the hopper of a mill. Instead of flour, hosts come out directly. This idealized vision illustrates well the fusion between the religious communities of the Middle Ages and their mills, sources of life in a world that turns in circles.
Tarot card 21, the World, Jean Dodal, 18th century
Arcanum 21 of the Marseille Tarot called THE WORLD in the game by Jean Dodal painted in the 18th century.

Thanks to the power of the mills, all the essential needs that gave so much trouble to the populations of the Early Middle Ages are satisfied. Indeed, they can be relied upon to:

  • Grind grain between the rotating and stationary millstones to produce flour from various cereals
  • Press walnut kernels to extract oil used for lighting every household
  • Crush oak bark to make the tannin necessary for tanning hides
  • Crush and scutch hemp and flax to separate the fibers from the nevotte and produce clothing, sheets, canvas, and ropes
  • Full the wool woven in the fulling earth to soften it, degrease it, and obtain a supple and clean fabric.
Sheep washing in Le Bugue on the banks of the Vézère
As seen in this vintage postcard, sheep washing before shearing continued until the 20th century, but it certainly was not enough to soften their wool and extract all the fats. Fulling mills were tasked with this mission, beating the woven or unwoven wool at the regular rhythm of fullers driven by the force of watercourses.

Later in the 12th century, iron mills and their large tilt hammers called "martinets" would strike the anvil either to crush ore or to give a flattened shape to ingots. Many forges would develop in Périgord thanks to the abundance of surface iron deposits. Subsequently, sawmills and paper mills would appear.

By the end of the 13th century, there were 40,000 water mills installed in France, equivalent to 1,200,000 workers.


These providential mills naturally and historically settled on the banks of watercourses with sufficient flow. Let us recall that the Ladouch is described in archives as "a large stream that originates from a precious spring with abundant and clear waters." Among these mills that revolutionized the feudal era between the 9th and 13th centuries, we have in Le Bugue a survivor that has defied the ages, precisely on the course of the Ladouch.

The Moulin de la Barde, flanked by its defensive arrow slits, emblematic of castle architecture in the Périgord during the Middle Ages, was once connected to the Château de la Barde, now called the Manor. From the 11th century, it served as a wheat mill, a walnut oil mill, a bark mill and a coot mill.

By the end of the 19th century, thanks to the consistently abundant flow of the Ladouch, it even became a hydroelectric power plant equipped with two powerful turbines, which provided electricity to the entire village of Le Bugue until 1907.

The Moulin de la Barde in Le Bugue on the banks of the Ladouch
The Moulin de la Barde in Le Bugue, still adorned with its medieval elegance, now welcomes heritage enthusiasts for stays in the time of the Abbeys and their Mills, as well as artist residences.


So what became of that famous Benedictine Abbey that flourished in Albuca from the year 1000 onwards thanks to Dame Adélaïde? Troubled by numerous wars of all kinds, Aquitaine experienced much suffering, and the residents of the Abbey of Le Bugue endured many horrors. This venerable building was looted, razed, rebuilt, relocated, and ultimately... buried.

Vert-Vert, Fleury-François Richard, 1804 – Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (A 108)
"Vert-Vert" is the title of this canvas by the painter Fleury-François Richard. It depicts the parrot that delighted the sisters of the medieval Abbey portrayed here. This work allows us to imagine the atmosphere of convents during this era. The Benedictine Abbey of Le Bugue must have resembled it like a sister. This painting is part of the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.

It is noteworthy that at the pivotal moment when the Huguenots revolted against the excesses of the Catholic Church, which had begun practicing a trade in indulgences as lucrative as it was indecent, the Abbess of the Le Bugue convent, Gabrielle du Breuil, decided to convert to the Reformed Religion. She closed her Church of Saint-Marcel and had a Temple built, of which nothing remains except the Place du Temple, where it no longer stands.

Its last resurgence, the Abbey experienced it on the banks of the Vézère, where the convent was reinstated at the initiative of Marie-Catherine de Rocquart, appointed abbess in 1677. She is therefore considered the second founder of the Abbey of Le Bugue, after the initiator Dame Adélaïde.

On the Napoleonic cadastre established in 1818, we can see the location of the convent of the Benedictine sisters of Le Bugue as it was reinstated for its final version in 1677 on the banks of the Vézère, under the leadership of Abbess Marie-Catherine de Rocquart. It is labeled on this map as "Location of the old convent." We can also see the locations of the old Church of Saint-Sulpice and its Presbytery, also on the riverbank and, for that reason, just as threatened by the floods of the Vézère. We have labeled all the important locations before the major works of the 19th century.
Le Bugue (Dordogne, France), Le Bugue, 3 P 3 755 Archives départementales de la Dordogne

The final blow for the rebuilt convent in the 17th century under the current royal Vézère occurred during the major works that took place in the second half of the 19th century. The axis from Limoges to Périgueux to Cahors cut straight through Le Bugue to its new bridge, sufficiently elevated this time to withstand the floods of the Vézère. These floods had previously swept away part of the old cemetery, which was indeed located right at the water's edge.

Dordogne – LE BUGUE – Le Quai de l’Hôtel de ville – Crue de la Vézère 25 mars 1912
Postcard – Edition Bertrand, photo – Librairie Papeterie
Dordogne – LE BUGUE – Le Quai de l’Hôtel de ville – Crue de la Vézère 25 mars 1912
Postcard – Edition Bertrand, photo – Librairie Papeterie
LE BUGUE – Inondations des Quais par la Vézère
Postcard – Librairie Papeterie – Teillet
LE BUGUE – Inondations des Quais par la Vézère
Postcard – Librairie Papeterie – Teillet

It is worth recalling that the old bridge of Le Bugue, established at the end of the Middle Ages, was destroyed during the Fronde in the mid-17th century. Crossing the Vézère was done aboard a ferry, tethered to a cable crossing the river at the current Port district.

In 1876, to connect the new Rue de Paris to the new stone bridge, the old Church of Saint-Sulpice and its Presbytery located to the East were demolished. Only their ground floors remain, buried under tons of rubble and asphalt that raised the new Place de l’Hôtel de Ville. A stone cross marks these architectural funerals on the current parapet.

Stone Cross in memory of the old Church of Saint-Sulpice and its Presbytery
A stone cross marks the spot where the old Church of Saint-Sulpice and its Presbytery once stood before the major works of the 19th century.
Sunrise over Le Bugue
Sunrise over Le Bugue

The esplanade where the Royal Vézère now stands was filled in later, at the very end of the 19th century. Thus, it covers the last remnants of Dame Adélaïde's convent.

Le Bugue en 1870 – Photo François BERTRAND Collection Jack Bertrand
Here we have an invaluable document. This is the oldest photograph of Le Bugue. It was taken by François Bertrand before the major works of the late 19th century. Thanks to this, we can see the old Church of Saint-Sulpice and its Presbytery, now gone as they are buried beneath the current Place de l’Hôtel de Ville.
Plan showing the location of the Church of Saint-Sulpice and Presbytery in 1818
On this map drawn by Mr. Bocquel in 1993, we can precisely locate the spots where the old Church of Saint-Sulpice, its Presbytery, and its garden lie buried under the current Place de l’Hôtel de Ville. This lends Le Bugue the mystery of a sort of Atlantis of the Périgord Noir.
The new Town Hall Square of Le Bugue in 1900
The beautiful sites of the Vézère – Le Bugue (Dordogne) – The Squares and the Avenue of the Bridge Postcard – Town Hall Stationery Library – F. Bertrand
Place de la Liberté and Rue du Couvent in Le Bugue in 1900
On this postcard, we can see the old Hôtel de France, now replaced by the Royal Vézère. We can also see the old Rue du Couvent, not far from the Vézère where the convent was rebuilt in the 17th century.
LE BUGUE (Dordogne) – Place de la Liberté and Rue du Couvent
Palais de la Carte postale Librairie Papeterie – J. Teillet

The Church of Saint-Sulpice that we know today in the center of the village was rebuilt between 1871 and 1876.

The new church of Saint-Sulpice in Le Bugue
The new church of Saint-Sulpice in Le Bugue

One could say that the final tribute to the founder of the Abbey of Albuca was paid in the 1970s, during the opening of the famous "Caveau de Dame Adélaïde." The nightclub of the Royal Vézère, so named, resonated with a completely different tune, as one might imagine. "You can ring my bell," innocently sang Anita Ward in the early days of disco. An invitation that undoubtedly made all the wheel mills of our hearts spin faster until late into the night.

Gothic arch openings, remnants of the old convent of Le Bugue
Remnants of this old Abbey include Gothic arch openings attributed to one of the convent's dependencies.
Gate of the former convent of Dame Adélaïde in Le Bugue
Today, Rue du Couvent is located in the town center, where the first Abbey of Dame Adélaïde was originally built in the year 1000. This portal with a pointed arch keystone is believed to have been the original entrance.
Gate and remains of the convent of Le Bugue according to the manuscript of Canon Hippolyte Brugière
Canon Hippolyte Brugière, a man of faith passionate about local history, compiled all available documents at the end of the 19th century to handwrite his monumental work entitled: "The Old and the New Périgord." In the section dedicated to Le Bugue, he drew the old gate and the remnants of the old convent. The Society of Art and History of Sarlat and the Black Périgord transcribed and published his work in several volumes. Its Special Issue No. 7 concerns the municipalities of the former canton of Le Bugue. Société d’Art et d’Histoire de Sarlat et du Périgord Noir (Society of Art and History of Sarlat and the Black Périgord)

Sophie Cattoire

We warmly thank Pierre-Lucien Bertrand, who provided us access to all of his archives and his knowledge to assist us in our demanding and meticulous research.

Author's Note: While I have focused here on the narrative of the emergence of abbeys and their mills from the year 1000, the entirety of Le Bugue's history up to the present day, with a comprehensive compilation of sources and archives, can be found in the latest work by Gérard Fayolle:
"Le Bugue, un village et ses historiens," published by the Historical and Archaeological Society of Périgord and distributed by PLB Le Bugue.