Secret history of French villages - May 2019

The Château de Picomtal, in the village of Crots

The carpenter’s tales that laid open village’s secrets - or what a 19th-century artisan’s diaries, hidden under the floor of a Hautes-Alpes château, said about rural life

The discovery of the writings of a carpenter on offcuts of wood beneath the parquet floor he was making at the Château de Picomtal, in the village of Crots where he lived, gives a unique view of 19th-century life.

Joachim Martin was 38 and married with four children, when he used his carpenter’s pencil to recount his life and that of his village from 1880 to 1881.

He wrote what he thought as he knew they would not be discovered until after his death. He ...

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