Icone village durfort

Durfort, door to the Black Mountain (Montagne Noire)

The village is built just at the foot of the Black Mountain (montagne Noire), not far from the Lauragais plain. It spreads along the banks of the Sor, the local stream, whose spring is at Les Escudiés, near Arfons. Some of its waters are redirected in order to feed the Canal du Midi. The picturesque village is remarkable with its timber-framed and corbelled-construction houses. In the middle of the streets a gutter gently flows offering visitors a more pleasurable stroll.
We must remember that until 1360 the village was situated higher up, on a place named Le Castlar, near the Berniquaut oppidum.



Birth of the copper trade.

The ratio of agricultural land was very low so the villagers managed to develop the activity of the valley by using the hydraulic energy of the stream. Originally there were numerous mills along the stream, mainly woollen cloth or ‘fulling’ mills (over 14 of them in 1280), at the time the production was sufficient to export to Italy. Unfortunately the competition with fabrics from the Flanders and the revocation of the Edit de Nantes ruined the cloth industry.
Consequently people in Durfort decided to react by converting ‘fulling mills’ into copper beating mills. All they had to do was replace the beating end of the hammer with a heavy piece of metal which was used as a power-hammer. That’s how the industry of copper was born, which made the village famous for decades.
The making of most utensils (bowls, pans, saucepans, cauldrons…) required two types of craftsmanship: Power-hammer operators who worked from a ‘pastelle’ (a piece of melted copper recuperated from old copper utensils) along the stream in a building called ‘Martinet’, and coppersmiths who worked in their workshop in the village.
Nowadays, in modern kitchens, stainless steel has replaced this noble metal, yet it is coming back into fashion thanks to contemporary designers. The village managed to avoid being ‘copper dependent’, in fact other craftsmen can demonstrate their skill in different trades, leather items, woodwork, glass objects, basket-weaving, feather sleeping-bags or mountain clothing.