Destination legends… and mysteries of the Ardennes forest. Our region has a wealth of legends, amongst which those of the four Aymon sons, the Dames de Meuse, Roc la Tour and a multitude of others… So, curious? Come and live an enchanting, authentic experience and venture out to discover our many legends.
The Ardennes legends were born between the 6th and 9th centuries, in the valleys of the Meuse and of the Semoy in the great forest that gave its name to the area (the Celtic word Arduen means deep forest). A mythical forest crossed by “magical” rivers and streams, where the mysterious shapes of nature whispered marvellous stories in the ears of men. It is often said here that under every stone lies a legend. Here, you meet diabolical lords, the wizard Maugis, the fairy-horse Bayard, the devil’s castle is even perched up there at an altitude of 400 m on fractured quartzite towers (Roc-la-Tour in Monthermé). Without forgetting the legend of the Dames de Meuse (village of Laifour) and the Four Aymon Sons site in Bogny-sur-Meuse which in the summer hosts the “fantastic ride”, a Son & Lumière show recounting the legend of these rebel knights.
THE HORSE BAYARD Bayard was a legendary bay fairy-horse, whose origins lie in the ‘chansons de geste’ of the Christian Middle Ages. The oldest versions date back to the 12th century and count among the most popular stories up until the 19th century. These texts – above all the one about the Four Aymon Sons – ascribe magical qualities and a supernatural origin to it: the son of a dragon and a snake, Bayard was released from a volcanic island by the wizard Maugis. King Charlemagne gave him to Renaud de Montauban, the oldest of the four Aymon sons. Famed for his strength and intelligence, Bayard was able to carry all four sons on his back at the same time, to allow them to escape the ire of the king. Surrendered to Charlemagne as peace offering, he was thrown to the bottom of the Rhine (or of the Meuse depending on the folklore and later literary versions) with a millstone around his neck. Bayard managed to escape and, as the legend goes, continued to rove around the Ardennes forest, from where his neighing sounded at the time of each summer solstice. This horse – probably the most famous of all the Middle Ages – is an important figure of folklore, particularly in Ardennes, Belgium and France, notably around Bogny-sur-Meuse, Liège and Dinant. According to the legend, Bayard’s Rock was split by a kick of his hoof. Many places with names such as “Pas-Bayard” or “Saut-Bayard” owe their names to him.