French Friday #3: A fairytale

Winter morning

Smooth white birches lift their barren branches to meet the fog

Lonely snowflakes drift unhurried from the gray sky

Forest floor blanketed in crisp brown leaves, rustle, crackle underfoot

Acorns strewn across the ground, severed from the oaks that bore them

A clearing, a sacred circle kept in muted asylum by somber wooden guards

In the center, stone upon stone, crudely shaped, but gently placed

Long chamber, a covered alley, leafy carpet, rocky walls: House of Fairies

Entry left always open — an invitation, not for guests

But for the dead

Entry to the Maison des Fées

There are legends here. Bretagne, or Brittany as it is known in English, is one of the more haunting and mysterious provinces in France. It shares a Celtic heritage with England, Wales and Ireland – Britain. The people still speak their native Celtic language of Breton and still pass down the stories inspired by the thick forests and rocky seacoasts. Sleeping Beauty and even Merlin the Magician hail from Bretagne. There is evidence of Druidic influence throughout the region in the form of megalithic structures, built for many different purposes. Mr. Gren and I took a short trip to Bretagne for his birthday one year and managed to visit a few of these sites, in between visiting ruined castles and the impressive Mont- Saint-Michel.

Side view to show the length

My favorite of these megaliths was in the Forêt du Mesnil, near the town of Tressé. This particular type is called an allée couverte: a narrow, low-ceilinged chamber. It is about 16 yards long, two and a half yards wide, and just one and a half yards high. It was probably built around 2000 B.C. and would have served as a communal tomb, dedicated to the Goddess Mother. Centuries passed and the Romans rediscovered it, but were unsure of its purpose. In this land of legends, it is easy to imagine a world populated by other beings, and this rocky tomb took on a more innocent identity as the Maison des Fées (or sometimes spelled Feins). This morning I found an instrumental piece called “La Maison des Feins” by French gothic band, Artesia. I don’t know whether they were inspired by this location or not, but the ethereal music seems to suit the atmosphere of this ancient place.

Closed end of the Maison des Fées sports carved breasts and necklaces (which don’t show up in my photo)

Apparently there is a trend now to create tiny little fairy houses out of natural materials, gaining popularity due to a book series by Tracy Kane. I haven’t read these to verify whether they are any good, but I know already that my girls would love a project like this. Look for it later this summer!

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