The site of Courbefy

Chapelle de Courbefy
Chapelle de Courbefy (photo Office de tourisme des Monts de Châlus) )

The site of Courbefy in the Commune of Bussière-Galant is one of the most interesting in the territory of the Monts de Châlus. It mixes history, myth and religion, which is what gives it its unique character.

The site was perhaps occupied in the pre-Roman period but it is the Middle Ages that have left traces of a sizeable stronghold. Little is known about its history. It belonged to Géraud de Maulmont, who perhaps rebuilt it. He was a powerful landholder and cleric in Limousin, also the lord of Châlus and proprietor of the castle of Châlucet-haut.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, the castle at Courbefy was the property of the Maulmont family, then of the king of France, Philip the Fair. During the Hundred Years War it was besieged and taken on several occasions, both by the English and by armies in the service of the king of France. Following this, it was handed down through the family and was eventually destroyed in the programme of fortress demolition ordered by Richelieu. The demolition was made the responsibility of the citizens of Limoges and the surrounding area because the ancient fortress had become a hideout for brigands and had a terrible reputation.

In spite of this, one can still make out numerous traces of what had been a powerful castle. An early curtain wall surrounded the central section which must have been a large principal building. Parts of the walls, some of them collapsed, are still visible. In particular, one can see the remains of the latrines in the north-west corner. The site gives a unique vantage point over the surrounding region, both the Monts de Châlus to the north and Perigord to the south.

Bonne Fontaine dédiée à Saint Eutrope
Bonne Fontaine dédiée à Saint Eutrope (photo Office de tourisme des Monts de Châlus)

At Courbefy, one can also visit the small chapel originally built in the 13th century, probably contemporary with the castle and extensively altered in the 17th century. One can still come here for private prayer when on pilgrimage to the springs. These three springs, known as “Bonnes Fontaines” (holy springs), are singular places of worship found in great numbers in Limousin and beyond. Those of Courbefy were particularly renowned and busy. They can still be seen today, protected by walls of dressed stone. One of them even has a cross covered with ex-votos, votive offerings and other marks of devotion.

These springs, and the worship of them, are extremely ancient. In Antiquity, particularly in Celtic and Gallo-Roman religion, certain natural sites were venerated, particularly those associated with water or the subterranean world. With the coming of Christianity, the saints replaced the ancient divinities but the worship and devotion accorded to the springs continued. They remained important in the Middle Ages, overshadowed by the great fortress above them.

Visites

Le site de Courbefy se visite.

Des visites guidées du site (la chapelle et les Bonnes Fontaines) sont organisées durant la période estivale, du 1er Juillet au 20 Septembre, le mercredi à 15h.

Tarifs : 3 euros par personnes, 2 euros pour les 10-16 ans, gratuit pour les moins de 10 ans.

Renseignements au 09.60.07.30.07.