A Borie is a dry-stone structure, generally a one-room cabin. The smallest can be a single, low room where a shepherd could weather out a storm or a cold night. More typically, the single room borie is big enough to stand upright in, with space for a fire and often a shelf or two built into the thick stone walls.
Larger bories can have multiple rooms, right up to the largest we know of, which is an entire borie village (Village de Bories) at Gordes in the Vaucluse department.
The name borie is used for the dry-stone huts in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region of southeast France. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France, these same stone structures are called capitelles.
Dry-stone huts, whatever they are called, can be found all over the world. In the Borie Village at Gordes , there are photographs of "bories" from Beaujolais in France, Corsica, Crete, Death Valley in California, Italy, Mexico, Peru, the Sinai dessert, Switzerland, Turkey and what used to be Yugoslovia. A Beyond reader, who's a student of archaeology from the University of Malta, told us the Maltese variety are called "giren".
The borie in our top photo is typical of those in the Luberon and the area around Apt and Bonnieux and Gordes. Beside the village of Gordes is located a famous trio of bories called the Three Soldiers (photo, left).
Have a look at our Bories Explained page for more information.
The Calern Plateau (Plateau de Calern) in the back country of Grasse is dotted with the dry-stone huts. Many are small, one-man sized, but this is a great area for discovering them while exploring nature, finding wildflowers and watching the soaring eagles.
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The Caussols Plateau (Plateau de Caussols) in the back country of Grasse has large, open fields, low rocky and forested hills, the wee village of Caussols, a Roman road, and several very interesting dry-stone bories.
In the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the South of France, bories are called capitelles. A different name, but the same dry-stone huts, here often dating to the 19th century. A short loop-hike from the village of Blauzac, only 8 km southwest of Uzès, takes you through woods, fields and vineyards, and an area of around 50 capitelles. The word cabanes in the title of the hike is simply the generic name for cabins, or huts.