Views in Talloires

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Legend of the Princess of Angon

 (September Morn by Paul Chabas 1915)
The story begins with a young princess of great beauty named Bernoline in the small village of Angon on Lake Annecy. She spends days and days bored in her home – the Castle Angon –  until one golden September morning, whilst bathing in the lake, she crosses paths with a knight

returning from the crusades – he asked Bernoline for a place to rest for but a few days…. a few days that turned into years as the pair fell in love.

After a short while the pair married, and lived happily for two years until one evening while relaxing on the terrace of the castle, enjoying the evening view of the lake, Bernoline and the knight saw in the sky – a sublime, brilliant shooting star that seemed to fly across the lake coming from the Roc de Chere and disappearing over Mt Charbon at the end of the lake.  Bernoline was enamored of the star and thought if she could have it, the star would shine on their love.  She aksed her knight to bring it to her and who was he to refuse the beautiful Bernoline? And so it was that the knight set off on his journey, crossing alps and roaming forests, asking people he met if they had seen the brilliant shooting star. Always, the answer was  “yes” but it went over the next mountain. So for one hundred days until, on the edge of a sea, in total despair a mermaid appears and take pity on him.  She agrees to give him the much coveted star…with just once catch: that he return within two weeks time by midnight  to his love in Angon – or else Bernoline will pay for the star with her life. Not deterred the knight galloped off and managed, amazingly, to arrive at the very end of the lake a half hour before midnight on the last day of the two week time allowed.

His luck, however, was running thin, and he was delirious with joy and fatigue. The knight soon realized that he had taken a wrong turn and was now on the wrong side of the lake in Duingt, too far to ride back around the lake to Angon by midnight.  But all was not lost as he saw the shadow of a fisherman and his boat on the lake and he called to him until the fisherman finally acknowledged. However, all is not how it seems, he barters with the fisherman to take him across the lake back to his love and it’s then that the man requested a rather unexpected price. He will take him through the last leg of his journey in return for his soul in 10 years time – for the fisherman is in fact the Devil. An ultimatum dawns on the knight’s mind as he realizes that his beloved wife will die tonight if he doesn’t accept the offer. Of course, in the name of love and honor the knight accepts…. and he is soon again basking in the beauty of his wife.  Bernoline was joyous at the knight’s return; what was once a brilliant shooting star was nothing but craggy rock.
[Duingt is point A.  Angon is point B.]

The pair lived happily after… for ten short years until the knight left his home, his servant passing on the grave news and the details of this diabolical agreement to Bernoline. At that moment she swears to rescue her husband from the clutches of the devil…and sure enough Satan appears before her. He promises to reunite her with her knight on condition that she recognize him amongst a crowd of bystanders….in the guise of another. She agrees knowing in her soul that she would recognize him in any skin and so she scrutinizes the details of everyone that she meets with a magnifying glass, without ever recognizing her love until one day the devil once again appears before her and says that her husband has appeared before her no less than ten times in different guises.

Bernoline, desperate from despair ran out into the night and threw herself into the lake from the top of the Roc de Chere, and since then, when someone drowns in the bay of Talloires, she holds the body deep under the water to see if the drowned person might be her love returned in disquise.  Thus a macabre and rather sinister collection of corpses has formed below the calm and beautiful waters of Lac d’Annecy in the bay of Talloires.

Be careful what you ask for. You may already have it.

The following is a famous painting by Paul Chabas painted at Angon with Mt. Charbon in the background. Perhaps the legend of the Princess of Ango inspired his painting: September Morning.


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