French ghosts don’t only appear at Hallow’en … keep your eyes wide open when visiting some of the country’s most haunted sites.
Some ghosts clearly like to be left in peace, judging from the voices that have been heard urging visitors to leave the 14th century Château de Fougeret in Queaux in the department of Vienne. And some spirits are clearly out to cause trouble. The elegant Château de Lunéville near Nancy has been cursed since January 1719 when the first of several fires broke out, always on January 3. The last one happened in 2003.
At Château de Veauce in Auvergne, a 16th century servant girl wanders the corridors and sometimes even the bedrooms, but ghosts don’t only live in grand houses. The last tenants of a small property in Nortbécourt, Pas-de-Calais, were subjected to stone throwing, flying fruits, and a chair that moved by itself.
At Incarville church in Eure, a kindly Abbott named Delamarre who lies buried in the nave is often to be heard breathing along the paths. Not quite so benevolent though are the noises in a pink brick house at 38b Rue de la
Chaussée in Toulouse. Some believe they are made by victims hung on a nearby gibbet whilst others favour the ghost of a woman model, murdered by an artist.
Of course ghosts don’t only inhabit buildings. Myths and legends abound in the Forêt de Brocéliande in Normandy, legendary home of Arthurian wizard Merlin. Merlin is reputed to have met Viviane at the Barenton Fountain and a white lady is one of several spirits said to live at the Château de Trécesson.
In fact a dozen or more white ladies still wander ethereally round France. The figure of Mathilde l’Empresse, daughter of the founder of the Abbaye de Mortemer in Eure, walks through the abbey ruins, whilst another white woman is often seen at Château de Bonaguil in Lot-et-Garonne. And France’s highest chateau, the Château de Brissac in Pays de la Loire, is haunted by Charlotte, wife of a former owner, stabbed by her husband over her affair.
The infamous Red Man appears in the Jardins des Tuileries in Paris to herald disaster but despite all the bones in the city’s catacombs, only one spirit seems to have hung around – a Green Man who has been leaving footprints since 1777. East of Paris, the Château de Blandy-les-Tours in Seine-et-Marne is one of France’s most haunted buildings with a 10th century Seigneur in a bloody costume, clanking chains and blood-curdling noises.
But not all hauntings involve people. A ghostly horse is said to roam the ruins of the Château de Commarque in the Périgord, searching for his master executed in the 100 Years War. And a headless horse is just one of several ghostly animals seen at Relans in the Jura.
Finally, never forget that ghosts like to get their own way. Since 2014, the owners of a small house at Villers-Outreaux in the Nord have been receiving all kinds of unwelcome attention from an unseen presence who clearly objects to them felling a tree in the garden. It always pays to keep that Ghostbusters phone number handy!