Why? Well in past times and now to an extent they were used to provide squabs. Squabs are young pigeons which are good to eat. Some of the larger houses or chateaux would have very large pigeonniers which would also provide the owner with a source of income. One adult pair of pigeons should produce about 15 squabs a year. There is a very large pigeonnier at the Chateau d’Aulnay which has 2,000 nest places inside, and thus could produce 30,000 squabs a year. Thats about 600 a week, obviously more than they would need for personal consumption.
At the same time as producing squabs, they inevitably produce quite a lot of quite rich fertiliser and this was used on the land.
A few pigeonniers were used for communication. The large one at Sauze Vaussais was used by La Poste Royale in days gone by. It is in fact a reconstruction of one that had fallen into disrepair and was moved to its present site in the late 1990′s. The reconstruction was completed in 1999.
If you know the whereabouts of any pigeonniers in this region please let me know, especially if they are a little bit querky or have a special history.
For a more detailed look at this subject please click Colombiers-et-Pigeonniers en Poitou-Charentes/