The trade in Bordeaux wines to Belgium and Northern France grew exponentially in Haute-Corrèze between the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It encouraged economic development in this little rural community, and lead to the building of a hotel, two banks and three distilleries, as well as a label printer and cork manufacturer. The wine was delivered to clients in barrels which they then had to bottle themselves. Corks and printed labels bearing the name of the merchant were often provided free of charge by the merchants and sent separately.
By 1914 there were around 300 wine merchants in Meymac. And is was in their honour that the fountain of lions was erected in 1907. Many people bought Bordeaux vineyards, whether they came with a château or not, and founded veritable dynasties. For those wanting to advertise their success, Meymac and surrounding villages became desirable locations for the building of grand houses. These houses were mainly built along the main roads such as Avenue Limousine to the south or Rue de Panazol to the north.
These homes were sometimes embellished with towers or turrets, balconies or ornate doorways, and their dormer windows were adorned with carved frontispieces.
The cast iron railings of the balconies and doorsteps often bore the owner’s initials and sometimes also strands of vines and bunches of grapes.
This house, built in 1901 and located in Rue de la Prairie, also sports ceramic decoration. Araucanian tree stands in its wooded grounds. Like the Cedarwood and Redwood trees, this rare species was embraced by the wine merchants to mirror the fashionable grounds of the châteaux.
Meymac may only boast a handful of wine merchants today, but numerous Corrèze families still own vineyards where some of the finest Bordeaux wines are produced.
The Wine Merchants Houses
Explore the heritage of the buildings which sprang up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to the economic rise of the Meymac wine merchants, who grew rich following the example of Jean Gaye-Bordas.