As the rain had forced a stop , we spent a while exploring the small ancient village of Vessac, and sheltering in the interior of the communal bread oven.
The common oven or four banal was a feudal institution in medieval France. Frequently owned by the feudal lord, who had the right to own all the ovens within his area, each operated by its own ovenmaster, or fournier. Personal ovens in individual houses were outlawed, and people were forced to used the communal oven to bake their bread. Obviously they had to pay for this privilege.
Traditions surrounding the four banal may have lasted as late as World War II. In some rural areas of France, the old communal ovens are still extant and are sometimes used for community celebrations.