Friday, 1 January 2016

Yellow Bellies

The inhabitants of Chaumussay had a nickname in the old days. They were known as les ventres jaunes ('yellow bellies'). This sobriquet may have had two origins [Source Au temps de Chaumussay by Michel Brouard]:

  1. A century ago vines were quite numerous around Chaumussay and a sign of wealth. Their owners were considered to have so much gold in their waistcoat pockets that it would rub off on their bellies.
  2. The quarrymen who worked extracting stone from the mines and quarries would emerge from the workplace with their clothes covered in yellow limestone (Fr. tuffeau jaunâtre) dust. The best underground quarry in the area was dug out in the 1880s. Later it served to grow mushrooms and then as a storage depot.
 The entrance to an abandoned limestone quarry near Chaumussay.
The second explanation seems much more likely to me. The very best tuffeau is sparkling white and comes from the underground quarries at Bourré. Other quarries provided differing qualities and colours of stone, ranging from white to yellow and suitable for building fine houses to paved roads. This house shows you the typical colour of stone around Chaumussay. Compare it to the colour of the Chateau of Chenonceau.

Happy New Year to Everyone.
May it be happy, healthy and prosperous.


  1. Happy Gnu Year to ewe two too!
    May your clients arrive in their thousands....
    well enough to give you a healthy income...
    but no exhaustion.

  2. Happy new year, Susan and Simon. I hope all goes well for you in 2016.

    Thanks especially this year for drawing our attention to Issoudun. We drove through there thinking how dull it looked, on the very same day you were discovering all these gems in the town. Now Issoudun is on our map for 2016.

    1. Wow! What a coincidence!! I have to admit, before the Birettes outing I would have said exactly the same as you. We've been through Issoudun a number of times and gone 'Cripes, what a trou!'. Just goes to show the benefit of local knowledge and being shown somewhere by someone who lives there.

    2. Susan, that's not the only coincidence. In 2014 you wrote a post about the heritage traffic jam in Le Blanc. On May 28 I was sitting in the car waiting for E and catching up on your blog. I wondered why Le Blanc sounded familiar and then realized that's where we were at the moment.

    3. I remember you commenting on it at the time. I wonder where we won't quite meet up this year? :-)

  3. A fascinating post.
    Happy New Year to you!