The Lake and its Legends

Par Eric Verdel
ingénieur de recherche
directeur des fouilles du site de Colletiéres

The diabolic flood, engraving in the 17th century

Cliché H. Jézéquel, National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, Paris

Some legendary stories relate more particularly to the hamlet of Ars, established since the Middle Ages on the west bank of the lake of Paladru (on the commune of "Pin").

The first tells the story of a pilgrim to whom the uncharitable inhabitants refuse hospitality: in the night, the elements are unleashed and provoke the engulfment of the village. The second evokes the rupture of a pact passed between the Arsois and the devil (there is still today a place called "the Barn of the Devil" not far from the Pré d'Ars).

Gravure de C. Pegeron et A. Perrotin, l'Allobroge, 2e année, 1840. Cliché Musée Dauphinois.

"Pilotis" du site de l'An Mil à Charavines-Colletière (Isère).
Cliché Fouilles de Colletière.

In the eighteenth century, we first discovered the foundations of a chapel Sainte-Anne d'Ars.

In the same place, more recent observations also mention the discovery of sarcophagi and medieval ceramics.

Les fouilles archéologiques ont d'autre part apporté la preuve que trois sites littoraux (dont celui d'Ars) ont effectivement été abandonnés vers 1040, à la suite d'une transgression lacustre qui les a ennoyés. Le souvenir de cet événement s'est perpétué dans la tradition orale d'une population qui connaissait les emplacements où l'on pouvait distinguer (et parfois même recueillir avec les filets de pêche) des vestiges sous une faible hauteur d'eau : pieux de chêne, fragments de poterie, objets en bois, outils et armes de fer.

A Houot extrait de la bande dessinée "Ars engloutie" édition Glénat

Historical research has finally shown that between 1172 and 1177, the Carthusians of Silve Benite had called on Pope Alexander III and the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to defend their interests against the community of Ars. It is even probable that the monks set fire to the hamlet and drove out the inhabitants of Ars, which prevented them from gaining access to the lake's property and its fish resources.

These various elements indicate that the local legend has fed on real facts, both based on the vagaries of nature (the flood of the eleventh century) and on the destruction of the village of Ars (towards the end of the twelfth century ). Two events that the Carthusians, who sought to have the widest "desert" around their monastery, have recovered for their benefit by attributing them to a divine intervention.

Legend of the white lady, acrylic painting on synthetic canvas

C. Sage and M. Ribeaud, 1995. Photo P.F. Couderc

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