The Tours de Merle, a bewitching and mysterious site

Saint-Geniez-ô-Merle
The Tours de Merle, a ...

In the heart of Xaintrie, following a winding road that winds between dense and exuberant forests, suddenly stand Les Tours de Merle... In the town of Saint-Geniez-ô-Merle, this village of castles emerges as a testimony to the past. Here you are facing an old co-seigneury (like a collocation, but of Lords!): 7 towers dating from the 12th to the 15th century, each the property of a different Lord. It is a real medieval castrum (a fortified site) in the heart of the Maronne gorges. An exciting visit for the whole family awaits you.


Photos of the article: Corrèze guide


Merle Towers

The Merle towers, a unique historical site

It is a preserved place nestled between the hills of Xaintrie. The surrounding landscape is authentic (Zone Natura 200, Znieff); The name Merle comes from the rock on which this feudal complex is built. From the 12th century, the lords perceived the potential of this site: in a loop of the Maronne river, it took up a strategic position straddling several counties and dioceses. It is high up, with forests (therefore food and materials) in the surroundings, while offering the possibility of building on the rocky outcrop. And that's what they do, 30m high, 200m long, the medieval city is erected and actively inhabited for more than 3 centuries.

The families of local Lords (the Carbonnières, the Veyracs, the Noailles, etc.) succeeded each other and protected each other while respecting each other and each developing their own neighborhoods. All around the village develops which will shelter up to a hundred people in 1350. Houses with thatched roofs, garden and orchards and all the trades represented, it is a place which prospers. The Hundred Years War passes by, but the site nevertheless remains intact, the English seem to show little interest in it. On the other hand, during the Wars of Religion, the site of Merle was the scene of a siege of Protestants who established a garrison on the spot in 1574. The places were then irreparably dilapidated and the Lords settled elsewhere for more comfort. At the end of the 17th century, the end of the occupation of the Tours de Merle and the adjacent village by the villagers who also left and the site fell into oblivion.


Merle Towers
Merle Towers
Merle Towers


A sumptuous natural environment

All around the Tours de Merle, the landscape is authentic and preserved. The Maronne Valley is a place rich in exceptional fauna and flora, it is protected and classified, which reinforces the interest of the Tours de Merle. You will see species of birds of prey and remarkable birds, bats and particularly rare lichens (moss) which testify to very good air quality with little atmospheric pollution.

To continue exploring the site, go for a walk along the Maronne, towards the ruins of an old mill dating from the 14th century.


Do you like walks? Set off to explore the Tours de Carbonnières, the “mini” blackbird towers, which are located a few kilometers away in the heart of the forest. We discover them after a short hike, with a Tèrra Aventura circuit so that the children have a great time.


Merle Towers
Merle Towers


Tour of the Towers of Merle

Like many tourist sites in the region, the Tours de Merle are open from Easter to All Saints' Day. The site can be discovered in free visit with a modest pricing. A welcome booklet allows you to walk around the site at your own pace while understanding the membership of each tower, the strategic issues, the different types of buildings, trades and activities of the villagers present. For the youngest, a treasure hunt and a puzzle game are organized to make the walk more attractive and make them look for clues while learning the history of the site. It is also possible to book a guided tour with a guide-lecturer, before the visit. This lasts 1h30 and allows you to better immerse yourself in the history of the site, while asking questions to specialists. On the seasonal wings, visits take place at 3 p.m. on opening days and during the summer school holidays, 3 visits per day are organized depending on the number of visitors and the availability of the guides. Other types of themed tours are available in season.

Animations and sometimes conferences are also organized on site. The animations are internships or practical workshops to learn more about the life of the inhabitants of the Tours de Merle in the Middle Ages, their way of living, eating, dressing, working...


Not far from the Tours de Merle, visit Les Fermes du Moyen-Âge, an additional site, a veritable eco-museum that traces the life of peasants and farmers of the past, in this beautiful region of Xaintrie.


Merle Towers
Merle Towers
Merle Towers
Merle Towers
Merle Towers

The visit requires good shoes because the terrain is steep. Take your binoculars to observe the birds of prey in flight above the towers. You will wander around the entire site, it is also possible to climb to the top of 2 towers, via narrow stairs which will delight children! You can then continue to walk or take some time with a refreshment or a picnic on the banks of the Maronne. This very pleasant site will occupy you for a good half-day to appreciate all its riches and its bewitching environment.


Merle Towers
Merle Towers
Merle Towers


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