To get us in the mood for ‘Spookmas’, Jackie McGeown, who runs the blog Best France Forever, tells us some tales of French phantoms and the chateaux they are doomed to haunt for an eternity.
1. The ghost with the wooden leg at Château de Combourg
The Château de Combourgis is said to be haunted by a certain Comte de Combourg. Back in his day, he wore a wooden leg and this is the leg that can be heard marching up and down the castle’s stairway.
This story makes me wonder if the leg is still wooden in the afterlife or if it’s made of some ghostly material which allows the spirit to pass through walls? In which case, how could it make knocking noises against the stairway?
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Château de Combourg. Photo: Objectif Nantes/Flickr
His ghost is sometimes accompanied by a black cat, possibly the ghost of the cat found buried alive in the walls of the castle.
Apparently this was done to ward off evil spirits but also because human stupidity is limitless.
2. The murdered lady of Château de Châteaubriant
The next ghost is our first encounter with the sadly all-too-common theme of spousal abuse.
Believing his wife Françoise de Foix to be having an affair with King François I, Jean de Laval Lord of Château de Châteaubriant in the 16th century is said to have imprisoned her in her bedroom and either poisoned or stabbed her to death.
This poor woman’s ghost is said to make an appearance every October 16th, the anniversary of her murder, and honestly who can blame her?
Does the ghost of Françoise de Foix appear in her former home every year? Photo: the lost gallery/Flickr
3. Noisy ghosts at Château de Blandy-les-Tours
According to reports, the tower of Château de Blandy-les-Tours is haunted. At midnight on All Saints Day (November 1st), phantoms circle the castle ramparts, screaming in a “sinister” manner and doing some terrifying chain clanking in the style of Marley’s Ghost in A Christmas Carol.
But that’s not all. There is another ghost, thought to be the master of the castle in the 11th century who also happened to be a murdered. He appears in various rooms in the castle wearing a bloody shroud and brandishing a dagger, something we can all agree is pretty cool.
4. Haunted horse of Château de Sallenôves
This is my favourite. The Château de Sallenôves has an AMAZING ghost.
Inside the castle there’s a room called The Devil’s Room (isn’t that asking for trouble?) and at midnight a horse appears there wearing armour and foaming at the mouth.
5. The Bride of Château de Trécesson
A thief lurking by the Château de Trécesson one night spotted a carriage drawing up. Two “gentlemen” get out and begin digging a human-shaped hole.
Once this is done, they drag out a young woman, dressed in a bridal gown complete with floral headdress and bouquet, and throw her into the pit.
They bury her alive, claiming she has dishonoured her family. The thief then goes home and tells his wife, who sends him back to save the poor woman. He does but she’s already dead. Fast forward to present day and the ghost of the victim is said to frequent the castle dressed in all in white.
6. The star-crossed lover of Château de Paymartin
Another castle, another ‘woman in white’ ghost. In this case it’s Thérèse de Saint-Clar, mistress of Château de Paymartin in the 16th century.
Legend has it that her husband found with her lover and forced her to spend the next 16 years of her life trapped in a tiny room in the castle tower.
Now she is said to haunt the castle dressed in white.
7. The starving servant of Château de Veauce
A beautiful 18-year-old servant, Lucie, was being “courted” by the master of Château de Veauce, much to the displeasure of his wife, Jacqueline de La Fayette.
When the lord went off to war, the Baroness took her revenge by having Lucie thrown in prison in the tower where she died of cold and starvation.
Lucie haunts the castle at midnight and you will never guess what colour she wears…white.