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Myths and legends

There are many legends related to the local geography. Farmland, forest, rivers, streams, ponds So many inaccessible nooks and crannies give plenty of room mythical beings to live!

They find an extraordinary land to inhabit, in the protective environment of the forest, where outlaws, robbers and indomitable characters roam wild...

The legends evoke fears and even terror, but also the poetry of humble men from past centuries. Why not come and discover them all, beyond the picturesque appearances, and get a deeper understanding of the place.

In the area around the Grand Domaine, every natural place has at least one legend attached to it.

The best known are those concerning the discovery of the Bagnoles thermal spring waters, and the Roc du Chien. For more information, take the “Legends” guided tour, proposed by tourist office.

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The discovery of the Bagnoles thermal spring

Once upon a time, on the marches, where the borders of Normandy, Maine and Brittany meet, a lord of high degree and repute there lived. His name was Hugh, Viscount of La Ferte-Mace, Lord of Tesse Couterne. He possessed great wealth, great lands and great possessions, but he would have given anything to regain his youth, along with that of his faithful steed "Rapide" with whom he had won many battles.

He decided to abandon his horse in the forest, to let him die in peace. What a surprise he got when the creature reappeared a month later, as dashing and handsome as in the days of their many victories on the battlefield! He decided to follow Rapide back into the forest to see from where he had come, and what miracle could have transformed him in this way. His horse led him to a deep gorge, where no-one had ventured before, and here, there were dense fumes and a source of warm water and sulphur. The horse walked straight in, swimming and breathing the air. The servant who had come with Sir Hugh was convinced that it was an evil trap, and that this was the very smoke of hell. He dissuaded Sir Hugh from swimming. He then saw deer desperately plunging in, and successfully escaping the hunts. He finally decided to swim and, after some time, he also regained his youth. The servant ended up doing likewise after a few prayers. They returned to the mansion, barely recognizable, having been completely renewed with life and health.

In recognition of the places where he had found the cure, the Lord of Tesse founded a hospital and a chapel for the poor, sick and infirm.

It is said that Lord Essirard, married to a young maiden, but failing to have any children, she also bathed in the source, and some time later finally had an heir (legend has it that he had up to ten children!). He built Juvigny-sous-Andaine, a tower with an enigmatic shape, in gratitude. That tower is the Tour de Bonvouloir, which can be seen to this day.


The Roc au Chien

The rocky outcrop known as the "Roc du Chien" (Rock of the Dog) is located in the grounds of the town hall - a former château. Two separate legends explain the name:

The first tells of a reckless child playing near a ravine who fell over the edge. His dog followed after him and called for help by barking. When the dog died, in memory and recognition, he was buried here.

The second legend tells of an evil lord who on the eve of his wedding day, in order to say farewell to his bachelor’s life, raped an entire convent. Of course, Divine Wrath fell upon him, and turned him into a monster with a dog's head and a tiger's paws. Now very unhappy not to have been able to marry, the dark lord took to eating the young girls of Tesse-la-Madeleine on the eve of their wedding days.

A little hunchback tailor who was to be married, decided to place himself in front of his fiancée to protect her. An old man, seeing the plight of the couple, gave the tailor a bag containing three small magic stones and instructions on how to use them. They waited for the monster. Midnight struck, and the terrible beast appeared. Terrified, the little hunchback threw the first stone, the monster screamed, and then the second, and he spat fire, and finally he threw the third, screaming "dog of hell, remember the nuns!” And the monster disappeared. The next day saw the wedding procession coming back from the church with the monster's head petrified in the rocks.

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