Stories and Legends
This very remarkable Gallic tumulus was built in 300 BC and its also known as the “Butte de Renaud-tombant.” Measuring 12 metres high and 70 metres round, the site has been classified since 1924.
The Butte des Élus is crowned by a statue of the Virgin Mary, which is said to have been put up in gratitude for the village’s protection during the 1870 war.
The story goes that young women passing seven times under the arches supporting the statue, without laughing or smiling, are guaranteed to find a husband or become fertile!
According to the legend, around AD 850, Simon Ist of Beaugency was suffering from a serious illness, which was inexorably leading him to his death. One morning, he smelt a sweet and pleasant fragrance which had spread through the city, and was instantly cured!
A few days later, he found out that on the very day of his miraculous recovery, the clergy of Amiens had found the remains of Saint-Firmin, and on this occasion, the same smell had spread through Amiens. Simon was convinced his recovery was linked to the discovery of the Saint’s relics.
He gifted his seigneury to the clergy of Amiens which left it to be managed by his descendants, on the condition that the lord of Beaugency came to pay tribute to Amiens each year and paid a gold “Maille” (gold coin) to fund the students of the city. If the lord in question did not pay the gold Maille, the students of Amiens were entitled to go to Beaugency to claim it while being accommodated and fed at the town’s expense until the gold Maille was paid!
This is why one of the main streets of Beaugency is now called “rue de la Maille d’or.”
“The bridge of Beaugency, the eighth wonder in the world, is the devil’s work, and a bridge like no other. He built it in one night, seemingly in one go, as no one even heard the sound of a hammer.
Only, he had vowed to keep for himself the most beautiful soul who would cross this bridge, whether young, old, man or woman. The people of Beaugency – always dependable – came out of this tricky step on top. They grabbed a strong tomcat and threw it onto the new bridge!
The Devil – who lived in the tower, in the middle of the quay – was surprised to see a cat walk onto the embankment and followed it immediately. However the agile creature, saw him jump onto a pier, and in three leaps, crossed the bridge. Still running, with a final leap, the cat reached an area full of vegetation.
Aggrieved by his misfortune, the demon tried to push the bridge over with his shoulder, however it was too well build and did not collapse. Yet, a crooked arch was all the devil left of his efforts on that memorable day. As regards the cunning inhabitants, they kept the name of “Chats de Beaugency” (Beaugency cats). ”
During the Hundred Years War, bad weather damaged harvests and a band of looters wreaked havoc through the countryside.
The city of Orléans was at risk from famine and asked Meung-sur-Loire for help, which was only a few leagues away, but the road far from safe. Nonetheless, it was decided to give it a try as Meung-sur-Loire was the city of mills and also had donkeys! Thus, the donkeys were loaded with sacks of flour, and the convoy left at night for Orléans.
Early in the morning, the inhabitants of Orléans saw them arrive from the top of the ramparts and cried: “Here are the Meung donkeys!”.
A nickname that almost stuck to Meung inhabitants, if they had not replied cheekily to those wanting to call them donkeys: “Many donkeys pass through Meung, but none stay!”.
It is said that a peasant ploughing his land discovered a 1-meter high polychrome oak statue of the Virgin Mary in a bush. Adorned with a crown, she was holding her divine child on her knees.
The peasant wanted to take his discovery to the vicar of Mézières-lez-Cléry, but the oxen pulling his cart set off in the opposite direction and stooped suddenly in a clearing, not far from the Loire.
It was thus decided to build a small chapel on the very same spot where the oxen had stopped! This chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary became an unmissable step on the road for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela.
Miracles and pilgrims multiplied and the primitive building soon became too small. Thus, to welcome the pilgrims, Philippe le Bel had a collegiate built, which was later on rebuilt in the 15th century. It has gained the title of Basilica since 1984.