Annecy and the Haute-Savoie region in general are steeped in legend. While some are better known than others, they also provide an opportunity to learn more about the local culture.
The legend of the Lady of Angon
The first legend, and certainly the best known in Annecy, is that of the Dame d’Angon, Bernoline. It tells the story of Bernoline, a lonely young chatelaine living in her parents’ castle in Angon. One day, a young knight came to meet her and the two young men fell in love.
After their wedding, the knight set off to find a shining star that he had promised Bernoline, but he fell into a trap and made a pact with the Devil, who demanded her soul in exchange for her release. When Bernoline did not see her knight return, she went in search of him.
Desperate not to find him, she finally threw herself into Lake Annecy from the Roc de Chère. Since then, she has haunted the depths of the lake, carrying the bodies of those who drowned and always searching for her lost knight.
Further information: the Legend of the Lady of Angon
The Lake Fairy
Legend has it that there was once a pretty village on a peninsula off the coast of Duingt, where the inhabitants led a happy and simple life.
One Christmas Eve, an old woman and her dog arrived in the village looking for shelter for the night. Rejected from everywhere and tired of seeking shelter, they turned back and, at midnight, the old woman was transformed into a beautiful young woman and her dog into a white wolf.
The fairy of Lake Annecy then turned to the village and condemned it for its wickedness, causing a tidal wave that engulfed the village and its inhabitants. Since then, it is said that the twelve strokes of a distant bell can be heard on Christmas Eve, the desperate lament of the sunken village.
For more information, click here: The Lake Fairy
The legend of Château d’Annecy
The legend of the Château d’Annecy tells the story of Lothaire, an emperor living in the lakeside town in the 9th century, and his wife, a princess named Tiedtberge. Faced with the emperor’s infidelities, the queen began to reproach him on numerous occasions.
In a bid to regain his freedom, Lothaire tried to get rid of Tiedtberge by having her locked up in the darkest dungeon in the Château d’Annecy. The queen was rescued from her prison by a chaplain and managed to escape on horseback to Talloires Abbey. Lothaire, furious, was unable to find her. He ended his life alone, while the queen lived happily ever after.
For more information, click here: The legend of Annecy Castle
The Ladies of Sainte-Catherine
In the 13th century, Princess Beatrix-Marguerite of Geneva founded a convent at Sainte-Catherine, near Annecy. Nuns from the abbey of Bonlieu-sous-Sallenôves lived there. For more than two centuries, they lived peacefully, until idleness got the better of their way of life.
Saint-François de Sales tried to restore order, but to no avail. In 1772, the convent was closed and the nuns repatriated to Bonlieu Abbey. Only the five most pious nuns, who were dying of discontent, remained at Sainte-Catherine, where they died. They were buried under the flagstones of the abbey of Sainte-Catherine-du-Mont.
It is said that the ghosts of these five nuns haunt the valley of Sainte-Catherine, searching for the souls of their sisters. Visitors to the site can hear them breathing after dark.
Further information: Les Dames de Sainte-Catherine
The legend of Lac Vert
In Passy, it is said that on the evenings of a full moon, it is possible to see a shape resembling a white chamois near Lac Vert. The animal is said to have been killed a long time ago by a hunter from Chamonix.
In the face of this tragedy, the Lady of the Mountain is said to have shed a green tear, giving the lake the colour we know today.
The body of the white chamois is said to lie at the bottom of Lac Vert.
Further information: the legend of Lac Vert
The legend of the Dent du Chat
When you visit Lac du Bourget, you can’t help but notice the Dent du Chat mountain. But did you know its legend? Not sure you’ll look at it in the same way once you’ve read it…
Legend has it that a fisherman was punished by the gods for breaking a promise. He pulled a kitten out of the water, which over the months turned into a monster.
Formore information: the legend of the Cat’s Tooth
The Ghost Horse of Sallenôves
If you’ve ever walked past Sallenôves Castle, you may have heard the sound of raging hooves through the walls. Did you know that it was a ghost horse?
It is said that a knight tried to kidnap the woman he loved, under the nose and beard of her husband. But the chaplain, who was keeping watch, issued an excommunication that triggered a terrible storm. According to legend, the knight was swept away by the river.
Further information: the legend of the Ghost Horse of Sallenôves