Discover one of France’s most beautiful natural wonders, Lac de Paladru or the Blue Lake. A place of wonder as it is said that it was once a place of the Ancient City of Ars that suddenly disappeared after it was cursed.

The beautiful Lac de Paladru is one of Southeastern France’s most stunning natural wonders. From its lush forests around to its many attractions and its abundance of fish, this lake has something for everyone, including some paranormal rumors about how an ancient city that once stood where the lake is, suddenly disappeared.

The Blue Lake

Lac de Paladru is a picturesque lake located in the Isère region of France that is nicknamed the Blue Lake because of its bright color. The 36 meters deep lake was formed by two rivers, the Paladru and the Séranne, which irrigated this area for centuries before. 

Discover one of France's most beautiful natural wonders, Lac de Paladru or the Blue Lake. A place of wonder as it is said that it was once a place of the Ancient City of Ars that suddenly disappeared after it was cursed.
Lac de Paladru: The beautiful blue lake in France may hold entire settlements within its depth.//Source: wikimedia

The lake itself dates back to the 10th century and has since become renowned for its beauty, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Whether you want to explore its history or practice some fishing, Lac de Paladru offers something for everyone, even a local legend or two.

Legends of a Sunken Village

Many of the legends coming from the lake, comes from the myths of the Ancient city of Ars that once stood where the lake is now. It is said that it was a great city with riches and existed under the Holy Roman Empire. 

We do know that there were settlements to places that now are covered by the blue lake, but how big they were, and for what reasons the settlements disappeared is still up to debate.

The written accounts and locals called the city for Ars that means burned in French and the popular opinion was that it disappeared after a volcanic eruption and turned to ash. But even before the city supposedly disappeared there were written accounts of it by that name. Whether the name gave rise to legend or its faith were simply written under the stars is hard to tell. 

But did this city really exist? There are those saying it really did, although perhaps more of a village and interestingly enough, there is archaeological excavation that shows that there are abandoned settlements after a flooding of the lake around 1040. 

The Peasant Knights of Lake Paladru

What we do know is that at the beginning of the 11th  century, the Lac de Paladru had a lower level than today. Around the year one thousand, probably in 1008, about sixty settlers built a fortified wooden habitat on a chalk beach.

It was settled by farmers and craftsmen that had a second mission. They were also chosen to defend the territory as knights, and are remembered in songs and legends today. As the water rose gradually, the peasant knights eventually left the settlement around 1040. 

Is this the settlement that gave rise to the legend of the City of Ars, or was it something completely separate?

The Ancient City of Ars

The settlement of the peasant knights around Lac de Paladru are well documented in writing and archeological findings, but we can also find stories and remarks about this City of Ars as well throughout the times. 

But what really happened to it? Did there really exist a place like it? There are plenty of legends tied to the mythical city, and some of them were written down by Louise Drevet who published it in her book Les Légendes de Paladru from 1896. 

The Legend of the Pilgrim’s Curse

One of the legends tells that the Ancient City of Ars was a proud, rich and greedy city by Lac de Paladru that didn’t care for other outsiders. And in an almost biblical manner, it also led to its destruction. 

Once a pilgrim wandered to the Ancient City of Ars near the lake and was only met with cold inhospitality even though he was starving and exhausted. Except for two women, a mother and her daughter who gave him food and shelter. 

This angered the pilgrim so much that he put a curse on the village that was first heard by the ringing of the golden church bell, opening a chasm that swallowed the hostile village and sent it to the bottom of the lake. 

Only the two hospital women are spared from his curse and it is said you can still hear the sound of the bell from the bottom of the lake. 

The Legend of the White Lady  

There is no complete legend in France without the appearance of the Dame Blanches, or the Lady in White. 

The beautiful Countess of Ars accompanied by her young lover will plead the cause of her village with the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire. He ruled the Empire from 1155 until his death in 1190. 

The Ancient City of Ars wanted to be free from the emperor and the Countess of the city was chosen to go to the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa in today’s Germany to ask him in person.

Emperor Frederic Barbarossa agrees to spare the village on condition that the countess of Ars marries his nephew. The Countess accepts, although it’s not what her heart wants, and returns to her village. 

Here there are more than one version of what happens. In one version of the legend, she returns to her village but sees that it’s completely destroyed by an earthquake and a volcanic eruption, and her sacrifice was all in vain. 

Discover one of France's most beautiful natural wonders, Lac de Paladru or the Blue Lake. A place of wonder as it is said that it was once a place of the Ancient City of Ars that suddenly disappeared after it was cursed.
The White Woman of the City of Ars: According to the legend, there was no city when the countess of Ars returned and she was never seen again. jsamwrites/wikimedia

Both her and her lover take a boat to try to return to it, but there is nothing to return to. Some versions say they just kept the boat floating, reaching new shores and disappearing together. Some say that the boat never returned from the lake, and they both perished in the blue lake. 

The Legend of the Chevalier d’Ars  

Another legend that tries to explain the city engulfed by the Lac de Paladru is that of the Chevalier d’Ars from the village. He was chosen by the beautiful Béatrice de la Buisse as her man and it sent another man into a fit of rage and jealousy. 

The lord of Maurienne had wanted that position for himself and decided to take extreme measures for his revenge. He sold his soul to the Devil himself and in return, the village of Ars were cursed and engulfed.

Still Water with Deep Secrets

Locals still tell tales about old fishnets, pottery and other things that don’t belong to them at all. And under the still waters of the blue waters of Lac de Paladru, the legends of the mythical City of Ars continue to ring the ghostly bells for anyone to hear.

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