They played their part in an important cycle that meant the forests were well managed, and that ensured some places off the beaten track had regular employment, ensuring cash circulated around the local economy.
But in recent years many have faced a squeeze from a struggling housing market, and tightening budgets, as well as competition from other parts of Europe, but also the Far East, with cheaper products being pushed through out of town superstores.
One smaller wood yard that is looking to buck this trend is Parquets Castagné, or as they should now be called, Castagné, who have changed their name to reflect this new reality.
"Whilst we were recognised for making parquets flooring it was only making up 40 per cent of our sales," said third generation owner of the business Philippe Castagné.
"So we decided to change the name to enable us to focus on the other products we offer, as well as open up a new exhibition building and renew our marketing and promotion."
Located close to the railway station at Villefranche-du-Périgord, the Castagné factory was originally formed in 1924 by Philippe's grandfather making pit props and staves for the coalmines in the north of France.
As the business grew it began manufacturing parquet and hardwood flooring in 1955, but the economic crisis of 2008 saw larger producers close down and the industry as a whole struggle.
However, with such long experience and a knowledgeable workforce, the business has moved with the times and whilst still making parquets, lambris and exterior cladding from chestnut and oak, it has looked to appeal directly to home owners and smaller contractors.
A new exhibition building has been created in an old railway crossing house, with a large poster on the outside wall featuring bold colours and both inside and out examples of Castagné's different products.
"We are able to provide fencing, including the classic chestnut paling wired fencing, but also chestnut wood outdoor terracing, garden sleepers for raised beds and other accessories," said Philippe.
"Most of our wood is locally sourced, so you know that it is ecologically sound and that it is from properly managed forests.
"You also know that you are supporting the local economy and a local business, which is something of increasing importance today."
The new Castagné showroom is open Monday to Friday from 08h to noon and 14h to 17h, and on Saturday 08h30 to 11h30.
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