Haunted castles and places in the south west of France

Now that the Halloween approaches it is a good time to recall the stories of ghosts and haunted castles and places in the southwest of France.

Two of the best known stories are …identically called the “Dame Blanche” or the “White Lady”: “La Dame Blanche de Puymartin” she of the famous Puymartin castle in Dordogne and “La Dame Blanche de Bonaguil” who “visits” the fortress-castle of Bonaguil in Lot-et-Garonne.

Bonaguil Castle
Bonaguil Castle

“The White Lady of Bonaguil” is the story of Marguerite de Roquefeuille, daughter of Bérenger de Roquefeuille (1448- 1530), “nobleman powerful and magnificent lord” as he called himself, Baron of Bonaguil.
Wanting to consolidate his family via a matrimonial alliance Bérenger forced Marguerite to marry an old rich Count. His plan was shattered when the Count died suddenly during the wedding dinner and Marguerite fled the in tears the banquet hall never to be seen again! The legend goes that Marguerite comes back to haunt Bonaguil each evening of the month of November: she is dressed in white and cries while walking through the castle.

Puymartin Castle
Puymartin Castle

“The White Lady of Puymartin” is yet another legend of a woman dressed in white that comes to haunt her former castle – Puymartin – a castle where she was held prisoner by her own husband during 15 years. This lady lived as Therese de Saint-Clar, wife of Raymond the Saint-Clar owner of the castle during the 16th century. She apparently betrayed her husband who upon returning from a war found that his wife has taken a lover. To punish the unfaithful Therese he ordered her in “house-arrest” in a small room in the north west tower, room where she died and where she was probably walled. Since then poor Therese, sometimes wanders at midnight dressed in white clothes trying to climb the stairs to her room.

Chateau Biron
Château Biron

Chateau Biron is yet another haunted castle this time by… a man, one of its former owners Charles de Gontaut, duke de Biron.
Accused of complotting against King Henry IV the duke was decapitated on the 31 of July 1602. Since then it is said that every year on the anniversary night of his execution he roams around his castle holding his head under his arm!

And let us finish with a Basque legend that talks not about a castle but about the haunted Atlantic beach of the town of Hendaye – in the Pyrenees Atlantiques department, near the border with Spain.
It goes on saying that in 1609, some 10,000 witches celebrated the Sabbath on the beach dancing around the menhir and that stayed there until the nineteenth century.
But following the destruction of stones, they take revenge by tormenting vacationers who are brave enough to go for a midnight swim.
The elders of the town of Hendaye explain that these witches, killed during the Inquisition, would be the cause of some very mysterious drowning.

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