Riddle for the day - what was the purpose of this building?

Riddle for the day - what was the original purpose of this building? A sign of wealth and power, the edifice at Château de Montpoupon is currently used to display Hermes scarves and hunting trophies.

While at Château de Clos Lucé, the castle where Leonardo de Vinci spent the last years of his life, the interior is decorated with lights.

Scroll down to see the answer.

1,000 niche dovecote at Château de Clos Lucé

Answer: You're a clever group! I should have known that you would easily recognize a dovecote (pigeonnier). But perhaps you didn't know that the number of niches (boulins) represents the amount of land owned by the proprietor. In the Loire Valley, one niche corresponded to one and a half acres (three quarters of an hectare). Knowing that the dovecote at Château de Montpoupon had 700 niches, we can easily determine the size of the estate. As two pigeons were housed in each niche, it's easy to imagine the noise coming from the 1,000 niche dovecote at Château de Clos Lucé. Combined with the chickens on the ground, there was a real cacophony of cluck, clucks and coo, cooos. 

The royal chefs of the itinerant court, whose job it was to serve between 3,000 and 5,000 meals at every sitting, used pigeons' eggs served in omelettes and fresh pigeon meat to provide a welcome change from salted meat. Pigeons also provided their owners with a rich source of fertilizer (colombine) to improve the soil of vineyards. Pairs of pigeons were given by monarchs and nobles as gifts, while their feathers were used to make quilts and feather beds. And in an age when cell phones didn't exist, pigeons carried important messages from château to château.  Thus, dovecotes played a very important economic and social role in the Middle Ages.


  1. ah, David has a good answer. I was going to suggest a place to cure meats.

  2. A granary or hay storage barn?

  3. Definitely pigeonnier. Here's my take (different place but same idea.)

  4. WOW!
    looks FAB...what an amazing place to display Hermes

  5. Cheese storage! I was going to suggest pigeons but I've beaten to it, so I'm going alternative!

  6. Great article! I was just visiting in Paris for 2 weeks and I traveled to Evreux to visit a friend. Her home has been in her family for 250 years...or more. She has a pigeonnier on her property. I had no idea about the niches (bowlins). I enjoyed your informative article! Thanks for sharing!

    Henri Loves Paris

    1. Sorry...boulins! I didn't catch that before I posted...;)


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