Although to the best of my knowledge I’m not of Neanderthal descent(‘tho some might argue for Cro-Magnon), I have spent a lot of time in caves. But most of them have been “cave”, with a longggg “A”. As in “Caaave.” The French word for “Wine Cellar.”
There is, however, as you may be aware, another variety of “cave” here in France, with a history and culture that precedes the wine storage variety.
Our story begins long ago – Deep in the mists of time. Before the Horse n’ Buggy. Before the motor vechile. Before even – gasp – the web! When they were people who lived in caves who were’nt Neanderthals or Cro-Magon; did’nt carry clubs, or wear animal skins. These sartorially advanced folks were the Troglodytes. Progressive. Insurgents. Non-conformists. The “under the radar” middle class of the Feudal System.
As you doubtless recall from reading “History for Smarties”, the Feudal System was the essence of simplicity. Two classes. Rich and poor.Royalty and peasants. Thus, if you were unfortunate enough not to have been born into Royalty – you went directly to the bottom of the ladder. Peasantville! Back breaking labor in the fields of the mean ole Lord o’ da manor(“Le Seigneur”) for which you got to keep a few grains of wheat or corn and live rent free in the humble hovel, he let you build(on your own time) on his estate.
But wait – there’s more! (And feminists should stop reading here, to avoid getting their panties in a knot)Le Seigneur, being the B.M.O.C(the Big Man on Campus – and his campus to boot) had “droits de Seigneur” (rights of the Seigneur) over all the Women in his back forty.You’re getting my drift – are you not, dear reader? “The Seigneur would like your wife/daughter at the Chateau by six pm” – was not an invitation to tea!
Ok – so, the Feudal System. Not humankinds finest hour. No equality for anyone.(especially Women) No home ownership.No paid work. No medical. No dental. No radio. And even if there was – guess who the D.J. would be?
But, happily, the Trogs were not down with being “down by Seigneur.” Like that old car commercial, they had a better idea. One that aced the program of Mr. mean, nasty and oppressive. Caves. A better home and (rooftop)garden. At a very affordable price. Free! And here’s why – After creating the caves by carving out the stone for his chateau, the Seigneur had zero interest in them, or their inhabitants. And, in one of his few wise moments, realizing the feeling was mutual, exempted the Trogs from taxes. So – Glasnost. Feudal style. The Seigneur has one less band of potential revolutionaires to worry about – and the Trogs get a hassle free hacienda that does’nt need a fridge. Fireplace included.
And so, the Trogs rocked on with their “hunter/gatherer dance.” Gettin’ grub for their stylish stone tables. Tellin’ tales around the fire, as they roasted their latest catch. “Putting food by.” A lifestyle several rungs up the ladder from their peasant Brothers and Sisters. For a while. Then, that thing that wounds all heels(uh…that would be….time?) stirred up the stream of history.
The peasants, as Marie Antoinette so sagely observed, were revolting. The Seigneurs were retreating. A New World Odour. The scent of freedom. Light. Freedom to carve a small garden out of the forest. Freedom to turn those garden given timbers into four walls of your own. Freedom to stroll a few paces without collecting an arrow in your back. But wait – there’s more! SUNSHINE! And – as more Trogs decamped – neighbours to trade with.
Over the years their stone villas were, and still are, squatted by “Alternative Lifestyle” seekers. Like Fashion -yesterday’s poverty morphs into todays’ chic. And what could more more chic than a cave mansion? Neanderthal cred with digital mod cons!
Although you’ll find Trog dwellings throughout France – some of the greatest concentrations are in the Dordogne(Les Eyzies) and in the Loire. Particularly between Montsoreau and Souzay Champigny on the south bank; and between Bourgueil and Tours on the North bank. The tiny village of Parnay(south bank) even has a Trog Church!
Ready for the “Trog Experience?”
THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!
What are ya thinkin’?