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A brief history of Les Tulipiers

Professor Urbain, Les Tulipiers

Prof. Achille Urbain 1884 - 1957

The two houses were built in 1888 and were purchased shortly afterwards by the Urbain family. Son, Achille, later became Professeur Urbain and the town of Ribérac has named our street after its famous inhabitant.

Achille trained initially as a veterinarian, specialising in horses, and had a distinguished military career during the First World War. Among his decorations were the Légion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre. He was quite badly wounded and hospitalised at Verdun but subsequently recovered and went on to have a second career as a botanist and zoologist. He studied at the Pasteur Institute, receiving his PhD in 1920.

This led to his appointment in 1931 as the director of the Parc Zoologique at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and finally, to his directorship of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris from 1942 to 1949, a post he held until ill-health forced his retirement. Among his many achievements there, he is credited with the discovery of a Cambodian bullock - the Kouprey.

Googling his name produces images of a kind-faced gentleman and one can even hear a scratchy recording of his voice, as he delivers a lecture in 1951. By all accounts, he had a happy, active and fulfilled life.

He and his wife Jeanne had four children and it is pleasing to think of them all as one walks around the garden, picks fruit from their orchard and looks at the view, largely unchanged, that they must have seen from the top of the garden.

Les Tulipiers in 1945

Les Tulipiers - September 1945

Les Tulipiers in 1945

Early view over Ribérac (Les Tulipiers at back, right of centre)

As to Les Tulipiers, we have made some changes since buying the houses in 2012, but have tried to retain the atmosphere which we found on our arrival. The grenier (the top floor) had no windows or barriers - it was just used for storage and had no ceilings. We presume that the winch was used to take water up there, perhaps from our well. It could however, have been used to store winter feed for the horses which were stabled in what is now the studio.

The property used to extend over a much larger area and was originally a vineyard. Our neighbour, Gil, tells us that although this was many years ago, vines still pop up in the gardens from time to time. The name of the street opposite ours is "Les Graves" - signifying the gravelly, limestone soil in which vines like to grow. Indeed, the Dordogne used to have more hectares devoted to vines than the whole of the Bordeaux region. Not a lot of people know that - especially in Bordeaux!

Photographs taken in 1909 show the two houses standing proud, surrounded by trees and little else. We think that parcels of land have been sold off over the years but that has now come to an end because the garden is the perfect size for the house at over 100 metres in length and filled with huge trees, including many very productive fruit trees.

We love it here. We think you will too. Come and try it!