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Tales & legends of Gévaudan



The name Gargantua is today associated with Rabelais but this giant character pre-existed well before the 16th century.
Specialists, however, do not agree when it comes to the origin and date of appearance of this figure mainly present in France and Great Britain.
Some evoke a character resulting from the Celtic culture, others still older when some lean for the Middle Ages.
Still is it that Gargantua adored to walk in Lozere!

Evidence? There’s plenty of it!

He left his left hoof at Chateauneuf-de-Randon and the right one on the Randon signal. By the way, these hooves are at the origin of the cultivable land of Quézac!
By shaking his hooves after ploughing, he deposited a good soil where lentils were grown.
It would be the same with the Puechs des Bondons, these are the mounds of earth that this good giant removed from his shoes.

He was very close to men and was very helpful.
He cut wood for widows, plowed the fields…
But also joined the shepherds to play shuffleboard.
The only difference is the size of Gargantua’s palace !
You will easily recognize them by their immense size on the Causse Méjean or at the Thort south of Langogne.
All this work makes you hungry and thirsty, it is during one of these cravings that Gargantua installed the Pas de Soucy ! He decided to build a dam with big rock and to recover the fish with naked hand. The men left this dam too colossal to be dismantled!

The Barons of Gévaudan

The legend

A young man of honest condition, native of Mende, took the desire to go to Paris to find a better fortune.
He was sent to the Court of the King of Hungary.
He fulfilled his mission with so much zeal that he became the confidant of the king.
His entrances to the royal palace opened the heart of the king’s only daughter to him.
But of this marriage it was not necessary to speak, the heiress of the throne of Hungary cannot marry a shepherd of Gévaudan.

The unfortunate pretender had no other resource than to kidnap the one he loved.
Persuaded of the noble extraction of her lover, the young girl collected jewels, rings and jewels.
She withdrew to her room, under the pretext of praying, and went out in secret to join her lover. They rode without stopping until Gévaudan.


They married and had seven male children. But resources soon ran out, so the young couple were forced to apprentice their three eldest children early on. The first was destined to be a carpenter, the second a mason, and the third a turner.

Meanwhile, the king of Hungary was looking for his daughter and suspected that she had gone with her advisor to Gévaudan. He went there with an escort to retrieve his daughter.
At the announcement of the king’s arrival, the young man fled, but as luck would have it, two captains of the royal guard were lodged in his house.

The princess, for fear of being recognized, did not show herself.
The king learned that the woman who lived in the house occupied by his two captains was hiding and wanted to know why.

He called her before him. The young woman obeyed and came to humbly beg forgiveness.
The king, moved, forgave his daughter and son-in-law.
The children were presented to him, the three eldest coming with their tools: an axe for the carpenter, a hammer for the mason and a lathe for the turner.

The king did not want to return to Hungary, so he gave up his titles and bought the Gévaudan, which he had erected as a county.
The county crown was for his son-in-law and he reserved the bishopric for himself.
The son-in-law died first and so the bishop received the title of count. He then divided the territory into seven baronies for his grandsons.
This is why the first of the barons of Gévaudan bears the name of baron d’Hacher (Apcher), the second is the baron of Pierre (Peyre), and the third is the baron of Tournel. The other four: Randon, Canilhac, Cénaret and Florac took the name of the land that was devolved to them.
The eighth barony, that of Mercœur was created only more recently.


Gregoire de Tours, biographer of the Kings of France, tells us the story of Saint Privat.

In the third century, Saint Privat, bishop of Gévaudan, is charged with evangelizing the Gabales.
The latter, inhabitants of Gévaudan, believed until then in natural forces (thunder, water, etc.).
The bishop travels through Lozère to convert the population and then withdraws to a cave, on the edges of the Causse de Mende, to pray.
Meanwhile, Chrocus, chief of the Alamans barbarians leads his troops of plunderers into Gévaudan in 258, putting the country to fire and blood.
The Gabales take refuge in Grèzes, and despite the siege of the barbarians, do not surrender.
Chrocus and a few men then go in search of Saint Privat and flush him out of his cave.
The barbarians demand that he ask the besieged to surrender. He refuses.
They order him to deny his faith, another refusal.
In reprisal, he is martyred with a stick and then thrown from the top of the causse inside a barrel pierced with nails.
He would have crashed on the hill of the Executioner or at the current location of the cathedral.

After his death, Privat became a highly venerated Saint.
More and more pilgrims visited his tomb and the cave where he had retired. It is this pilgrimage that allows Mende to become a city that will prosper until it becomes the capital of Gévaudan in the 10th century.


The legend

Sister of the king of the Franks Dagobert, Énimie is of great beauty, which attracts the covetousness of the most beautiful parties in Europe. But the young woman has decided to devote her life to God and therefore refuses to marry. Of course, she is not asked for her opinion and the monarchy organizes a wedding.

Enimie will beg God not to let her marry, on the morning of the wedding she is touched by leprosy when she wakes up. The suitor refuses to marry, the other suitors leave. She has won.

But leprosy is a very painful disease and she is miserable. An angel appears to her in a dream and orders her to go bathe in the waters of Burle in Gévaudan to be cured.

She leaves Paris with an escort, goes down to Gévaudan where shepherds guide her to the miraculous spring. She bathes there and immediately the leprosy disappears. But while going up the slope, the disease reappears, she starts again but each time the disease reappears. At the third attempt, she understands that she must stay in the valley and therefore decides to establish a monastery.

It is this foundation, of which nothing remains, that marks the beginning of the history of the village. The Burle spring is still reputed to cure skin diseases.

Some years later,

Reference works:

  • CHABROL Jean-Paul, The Beast of the Cevennes and the Beast of the Gévaudan in 50 Questions, Editions Alcide, 2018.
  • MAURICEAU Jean-Marc, La Bête du Gévaudan, Larousse, Paris, 2008.

  • MAURICEAU Jean-Marc, La Bête du Gévaudan, la fin de l’énigme?, Editions Ouest France, 2015.

  • SOULIER Bernard, On the trail of the Beast of Gévaudan and its victims, Editions du cygne, Paris, 2011.

    MAURICEAU Jean-Marc & MADELINE Philippe, Repensing the wild thanks to the return of the wolf: the humanities challenged, Presses universitaires de Caen, coll. “Bibliothèque du Pôle rural” (no 2), 2010