In the Middle Ages, Roman roads were still used extensively, also by pilgrims. Our hostel is on such an old Roman road. (The large stones on the kitchen floor would come from that road.) So pilgrims have been passing by for centuries, and pilgrims could probably spend the night in what is now the barn ('grange') centuries ago.
It is suspected that the barn was originally an abbey farm. The building used to have two floors, with windows and two large fireplaces, indicating that they were built as living quarters. The remains of a large cross-window can be seen on the ground floor. Inside, on both sides of that window, seats have been made in the wall. Under the building are large vaulted cellars.
Abbeys used to build such farms to work the lands that were too far from their main building. Such a farm was headed by a 'grangarius'.
The first deed in which our house (opposite the 'grange') is mentioned is from 1496.
Sometime in the 16th century, the house became the residence of the Lords of Le Chemain (as it was then called): the De Choiseuil family. Their family coat of arms is depicted on the mantelpiece in the drawing room. The framing stones, the lintels decorated with braces and the wall with a gate also indicate that it was a house of standing.
Just before the French Revolution (1789), the house was bought by the Lords of Villemolin: the De Certaines family. She used it as a wine farm. Some details in one of the cellars still remind you of this today. (At the end of the 19th century, viticulture in this region was almost completely lost, due to a very harmful aphid.) The family still lives in the nearby Château de Villemolin.
In the mid-19th century, De Certaines sold the farm to their tenant: Perreau. After him, four more generations of Perreau worked on the farm ("La Ferme de la Cour de Cercy"). In 2000 the family sold the house to Karel and Willemien Musch, who called it 'l'Huis Perreau'.
We bought the house at the beginning of 2014. We then decided to take the name of our previous hostel, in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port: 'L'Esprit du Chemin' in ... Le Chemin (= The Way).
For this long history in short, we were allowed to use research by Karel Musch.
Immediately after buying the house, we started the conversion into a hostel. We have had a lot of help with that. More than 90% of the work was done by volunteers! During the renovation we have respected the history of the house as much as possible.
The major renovation took place from 2014 - 2017. In March 2018, Karel Smetsers published a beautiful photo book about that period. You can download the photo book here (PDF).
Many thanks to Karel and to all the photographers who provided images!