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The Lake and its Legends

By Eric Verdel
research engineer
director of excavations at the Colletiéres site

the legends of Lake Paladru

The diabolic flood, engraving in the 17th century

Photo 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 legends of Lake Paladru

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).

the legends of Lake Paladru

Engraving by C. Pegeron and A. Perrotin, Allobroge, 2nd year, 1840. Photo Dauphinois Museum.

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.

"Pilotis" from the site of the year one thousand in Charavines-Colletière (Isère).
Photo Excavations of Colletière.

the legends of Lake Paladru

Archaeological excavations have also provided proof that three coastal sites (including that of Ars) were effectively abandoned around 1040, following a lake transgression which flooded them. The memory of this event is perpetuated in the oral tradition of a population who knew the locations where one could distinguish (and sometimes even collect with the fishing nets) vestiges under a low water height: piles of oak, pottery fragments, wooden objects, iron tools and weapons.

A Houot extract from the comic strip "Ars engloutie" Glénat edition

the legends of Lake Paladru

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 PF Couderc

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