Every year, thousands of people visit France to sample the local cuisine, visit museums, take in the sites, and experience the thrill of Parisian nightlife. What many people don’t realize is that France has a dark side, a shadow self filled with ghosts and spirits that haunt the forgotten paths and passageways of some of its oldest locations. Listed below are ten of the most haunted places in France. Tourists might see more than the normal sights when visiting these attractions.
10. Pere Lachaise Cemetery
The Pere Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris, covering 110 acres of land with over 300,000 individuals buried there. It was established in 1804 and it’s known not only for its beautiful sculptures and tombstones adorning the many graves, but also for the numerous famous individuals who’ve been interred there including poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, composer Chopin, and Jim Morrison of the Doors.
Pere Lachaise is also well known for the restless spirits that wander its grounds. Visitors report numerous encounters including orbs, ghostly lights, eerie sensations, cold spots, and apparition sightings. Visitors experience ghostly tugs on their clothing when they venture too close to the grave of prime minister Adolphe Thiers and it’s rumored that the ghost of Jim Morrison can sometimes be seen wandering in the vicinity of his gravesite.
9. Château de Brissac
Château de Brissac may look like a fairytale castle, but it has a dark history filled with adultery and murder that ultimately makes it one of the most haunted places in France. Built in the 11th century in the province of Anjou, the Château de Brissac was rebuilt in the 15th century by Pierre de Breze, the chief minister of King Charles VII. Jacques de Breze then inherited the château after his father’s passing.
It was at this time that the Château de Brissac gained its notoriety. Jacques married Charlotte de Valois, the daughter of Charles VII. Charlotte was known for her dalliances with other men, and when Jacques caught her with one of his huntsmen, he ran them both through with his sword, killing them. Soon there were reports of ghostly activity, with the belief that Charlotte and her lover roamed the château, wailing in their sorrow and loss. Some legends even state that Jacques was forced to sell the château because he was being tormented by the ghostly pair. Visitors today report a variety of encounters including ghostly wailing, apparitions, and being touched by unseen hands.
8. Mont St. Michel
Perched atop a massive rock island near the coast of Normandy, Mont St. Michel is a grand monument that was built under mystical circumstances. In the 8th century, Bishop Aubert of Avranches began construction of the oratory after receiving a vision of the Archangel Michael telling him that he was to build a church. Some legends even go so far as to suggest that the church was built by the Archangel Michael himself. Regardless, nuns and monks still inhabit the island today, returning to the abbey after a checkered history that included a period when the abbey was converted to a prison during the French Revolution.
Mont St. Michel is believed to be haunted by a variety of figures, but the one that stands out as the most notorious is Louis d’Estouville. When he took command of a garrison at Mont St. Michel in 1434 Louis d’Estouville was considered to be a ruthless lord. He went on to lead his men in the slaughter of 2000 Englishmen during the Hundred Years’ War, killing so many that legend states that the sands of the island were red with blood. It’s believed that his ghost still wanders the halls and grounds of Mont St. Michel today, protecting the Mont from invasion. There are also reports of spectral monks wandering the grounds and buildings, perhaps praying for the souls of the dead Englishmen who died so many years ago.
7. Château de Trécesson
Château de Trécesson is an ancient castle replete with legends of family quarrels and murder. The Château in its current condition is believed to have been constructed in the 15th century, but the Trécesson family name is documented as far back as the 13th century.
One of the more prominent legends tells of the Bride of Trécesson. One night in the 1750s, a young bride was buried alive, apparently by her brother. A poacher who was hiding in a nearby tree claimed to have witnessed the event, stating that the scene unfolded when a coach arrived with the young woman and two gentlemen inside. A hole was dug, and the young woman, who was dressed in bridal attire, could be heard pleading with her brother and his friend not to kill her. The men buried her alive, stating that she had dishonored the family name. Another version of this tale has the bride being bricked up in a castle wall on the morning of her wedding. Besides the legend of the Bride of Trécesson, there are other stories of mysterious occurrences at the castle including a headless ghost and a phantom card game that sometimes ends with one of the players pointing a spectral gun at witnesses. Unfortunately the castle is privately owned, so tourists aren’t allowed in to catch a glimpse of the local ghosts,
6. Maison de Landru
The home of Henri Désiré Landru is possibly one of the most haunted places in France. Outwardly the house is attractive, speaking of grander times when those who could afford it lived life to its fullest. Located in Gambais in Yvelines, the house has a dark past that ultimately has resulted in numerous tenants leaving the home out of fear.
While living in the house, Henri Désiré Landru killed at least ten women and one teenage boy between 1914 and 1919. Landru would place lonely hearts advertisements in local Paris newspapers, luring his victims to his home where he then murdered them. Landru dismembered the bodies and then burned the parts in his oven. He was finally caught in 1919 when the sister of one of his victims convinced the police to begin an investigation. His case went to trial in 1921, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death by guillotine, a sentence that was served three months later in Versailles.
It’s believed that the house is haunted by his victims, and possibly by Landru himself. The house is again up for sale, at a purchase price of 450,000€.
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