Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Le donjon de Niort

As an American and English speaker, I grew up thinking that a dungeon was a dark, underground cell where prisoners were kept and tortured. It's true that in the anglophone world, the word has evolved. In French, un donjon is what the English call the "keep," the strong, central structure of a castle or fortress. In many medieval ruins, the donjon is often what's left standing and what we see when we visit them.

The river side of the donjon, seen from the parking lot on the river.

So it is with the donjon at Niort, which dates from the thirteenth century. It was part of a much larger fortress, long destroyed and dismantled, on the banks of the Sèvre Niortaise. We parked our car right across the river from the donjon, which is in the center of the old city, right next to the central market hall and not far from city hall.

The city side of the old donjon. It was a museum for a while, and now it serves as an exhibition space.

As usual, having the dog with us meant that we wouldn't see the interior, but that's ok. Walking around the outside was good enough. We've both been inside donjons before and I'm sure we didn't miss much.


  1. I always had the same impression as you, growing up, about what a dungeon was. I only learned about a keep / donjon from teaching my medieval châteaux unit :)

    Looking forward to photos of the new garage door and shutters!

  2. that looks pretty sturdy & safe from invaders!

  3. I think I'd feel very safe inside that donjon. Yes, we want to see your new improvements.

  4. That's fascinating. I hadn't known that. Wonderful photos ... again. Nice dungeon! I don't know why but Niort makes me think of Monty Python. I can just hear John Cleese saying Lay DonJohn De Nee-ort.

  5. judy, that sounds like a fun class!

    melinda, my siege days are over!

    evelyn, we'll take some photos soon.

    mitch, hehe.

    jan, it certainly was!


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