Normandy's myths and fabulous legends of fairies, elves, witches and all manner of creatures
The legend of the Devil's Bridge
Somewhere in the enchanting unspoilt countryside between Romagny and Le Neufbourg, a crow's flight from the peaceful little town of Mortain, there is a bridge known as the Devil's Bridge. There are many Devil's Bridges, which get their name from the legends surrounding them. They are mainly found in Normandy, and many of them are connected with the same intriguing legend. The devil is said to have helped the inhabitants build a bridge, usually of stone and usually in the Middle Ages.
A feat or architecture or the result of dark magic? Make your own mind up about this legend in Mortain in La Manche département in Normandy.
The legend of the Devil's Footstep
In the Middle Ages it was often told that heavenly figures once descending to earth, and this gave rise to a host of legends.
The legend of the Devil's Footstep derived from the story of the battle between the demon Beelzebub and Saint Michael the Archangel.
In Mortain you can learn the story of the battle and see the footprint left by the devil when he was defeated by Saint Michael the Archangel.
The legend of Needle Rock in Mortain
Next to the high waterfall at Mortain in Normandy is an imposing monolith known as the Needle of Mortain. People used to think this rock was inhabited by fairies...
If you look closely at the imposing block of stone, you'll see it is made of massive quartzite and is so thin it's easy to believe it is magical.
Today, this needle of rock is popular with rock climbers in Normandy.
The goblins of La Manche
Goblins are small magical creatures that turn into harmless animals during the day and into elves at night. It is said that at night, if you listen carefully you can hear the sound of doors slamming and crockery smashing in parts of La Manche.
There are said to be all sorts of different goblins, and contrary to popular belief, these elves are thought to more mischievous than evil. The best-known legend is that of the goblin of the fort at Omonville-la-Rogue. The story has it that a girl became friends with him and he would play tricks on her.
Discover the others famous and magical stories about La Manche in Normandy
The legend of Gargantua, the mythological giant
It is said that Gargantua, the hero of the novels written by the 16th century author Rabelais, spent some time in Normandy and that several of the stories about him explain some of the region's unusual and strange rock formations and landscapes. The story goes that Gargantua relieved himself from the top of the cliffs at Carolles, forming the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel and creating tides here. Another story has it that he once threw three huge rocks into the sea so that he could cross the bay without getting his feet wet. Today, these granite islets are known as Tombelaine, Mont Saint-Michel and Mont-Dol.
In yet another tale, the giant was about to step on to Jersey in one stride from Besneville, but was distracted by a stone in his boot. When he emptied his boot, the stone fell on to the shore and today forms a hill, the Mont de Besneville.
The legend of the caves of La Manche
Many legends have elements of the same story in common, and so it is that many of the caves eroded by the sea along the granite cliffs here are thought to lead to underneath local parish churches.
This is true of the caves at Jobourg. The caves are difficult to reach, but the strange colours and disquieting sounds inside are food for an active imagination.
The legend of the Trou Baligan at Flamanville is typical of the phantasmagorical myths and legends that abound in La Manche. The story goes that in this cave there lived a dragon that every day left his lair to seek out and eat children.
The villagers, horrified at what was happening, resolved to bring the dragon a child from the village every day as a sacrifice, but one day a bishop called Saint Germain struck down the dragon, which turned to stone.
Tales of witches in Normandy
It is said that there were once a number of suspicious events and magical happenings in La Manche, with records of mysterious recoveries from illness, particularly in the mid-17th century.
The best-know of these is the story of Marie Bucaille, who was accused of sorcery and nicknamed the Witch of Cherbourg.
In the Cotentin, for many years there was a festival of sorcery that took place in the village of La Haye-du-Puits, which is today remembered at the "Soirée sorcellerie" organised by the local tourist office.