©Brume à Bagnoles Orne en Forêt des Andaines 1|David Commenchal

The fairies

The legendary beings of the Pays d’Andaine

The legends of the Forêt des Andaines include three famous fairies: Gisèle, Andaine and La Gione. These legendary beings (who could be good or bad) chose to live very close to Bagnoles de l’Orne.

The fairy Gisèle

at Gorges de Villiers

Les Gorges de Villiers is a stunning natural feature located in the Forêt des Andaines around 7 miles from Bagnoles de l’Orne. A nature trail leads visitors along a path lined with rocky escarpments, fallen rocks and moorland. Here you will find the grotto of the fairy Gisèle and the fountain of hot water that belongs to the thermal spa at Bagnoles de l’Orne.

Beside the path above the fallen scree there is a natural cave in the rock. This is the grotto, or “ladies’ chamber”, which according to legend was the home of the fairy Gisèle. In exchange for offerings, she would grant farmers the use of a plough and two oxen for a day. They could work their land on the following day, but at sunset everything would disappear!

The fairy Gione and the dolmen

The haunt of the fairy Gione is a dolmen that is found at the edge of the forest three miles from Bagnoles de l’Orne. It is known as “Gione’s bed” because the old, ugly, bad fairy sheltered there. She often visited the peasants, who were obliged to entertain her. Sick of her presence, they played a trick on her and she fled, never to be seen again.

But no one dared venture close to her dolmen after nightfall… Legend tells that the fairy Gione bewitched the young Lord of Bonvouloir. When he entertained the fairy in his bedroom for several whole nights, the wicked fairy stole the young man away the night after his betrothal to the daughter of a neighbouring lord. She took him to a witches’ sabbath where he died of exhaustion after dancing too much. The wicked fairy then buried him under the dolmen.

The fairy Andaine at the Château de Rânes

It is said that the fairy Andaine still haunts the Château de Rânes, which is about twelve miles from Bagnoles de l’Orne. One day while out hunting, the lord of Argouge’s horse took his master, Raoul, to a spring where he could quench his thirst. At the spring, Raoul was enchanted by a woman who was bathing there. He approached her and invited her to his castle. It was only a year later that she allowed him to see her in the guise of the fairy Andaine. Transfixed with love, the lord asked for her hand in marriage. She agreed to take human form to marry him, but on one condition: Raoul must promise never to say the word “die” in front of her. He agreed without really understanding why, and they lived happily together for seven years.

But one evening, when she was taking too long to get ready to go out, he stormed into her chamber and said, “But what are you doing? You will make me die waiting for you!” The fairy looked at him with a desperate glance and flew out through the window. Today, you can still see the print left by her foot on the castle’s tower.