Very few regions of France, have as many famous legends as Brittany. In the heart of Brittany, the Forest of Broceliande is home to probably the most famous of all: The legend of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin, Morgana the Fay… It is a land of magic and mystery and the scariest one is probably the one surrounding the Valley of no Return…
I had dreamed about visiting Broceliande for a long time and finally on one of our last road trip, we made it there. Autumn had settled in with misty and cold mornings, glorious colorful trees, occasionally shimmering as the sun would pierce through the clouds to reveal their beauty.
It was so cold…
It was cold when we arrived at the beginning of the path to the ‘Val sans retour’. The sort of cold that pierce through your skin and freezes your bones. I couldn’t help to wonder if it had to do with the place. We were first walking toward the lake called the fairy mirror and as the forest was getting increasingly dense, the wind had stopped but the cold remained.
Maybe it was because of the lake…
You see, the lake of the fairy mirror is so called because of the legend of the 7 fairies who were hiding from mankind in the lake. One day, the younger fairy showed herself to a horseman and her 6 other sisters decided to kill the horseman, to protect their secret. The younger fairy got so mad, she killed all her sisters and their blood turned the lake’s water purple.
Knowing this, I kept slightly away from the lake edges, admiring it, at a respectful distance.
But maybe it was because we were walking toward the Val sans Retour…
The Val sans retour, or the Valley of no return, is where Morgana, the Fay, King Arthur sister, would make prisoners, unfaithful lovers. For eternity, they would stay trapped there, together but apart, so their desire for one another would torment them for ever.
Lancelot came to the Val sans retour to save one and won the battle against Morgana who released all the cursed lovers. But Lancelot paid a high price as Morgana managed to make him prisoner in a castle. Despite her other many lovers, Morgana was always in love with Lancelot. But he only had eyes for Guinevere, King Arthur’s wife, which drove Morgana to do despicable things.
Lancelot eventually managed to escape from Morgana’s castle, of course. He had to continue his adventures and quest for the Holy Grail!
So there we were, Mr A and I walking pass the fairy mirror, toward the valley of no return.
Those are just legends, aren’t they?
No matter, how much I told myself ‘those are just legends’ ‘those legends are not real’ , every step I took was making me slightly more nervous than the previous one.
‘How far might it be?’ ‘How will we know if we have been trapped by Morgana?’ ‘Will we ever escape?’ ‘No, No, she has no reason to trap us’ ‘there is nothing to fear’… my mind was running wild as all those things were popping in my head. We only walked for a few minutes but it felt like hours in my mind, as more questions than I would dare to share, were pouring like a torrent of doubt.
We only walked for a few minutes before being saved
Walking toward our undesirable fate was becoming pure agony.
Thankfully, we were soon being saved.
I would love to tell you that Lancelot appeared there, in the middle of the misty path, riding his magnificent horse and that, as his armor and sword were shimmering in the sun, he told us to turn around and never come back. I would really like to tell you this is exactly how it happened…
But instead, I’ll confess, it isn’t. In lieu of Lancelot, a slightly scary and overly large man crossed our path and mumbled something about hunting and the path being forbidden to tourists at this time of the year. He looked nothing like a knight, wasn’t riding a horse and thankfully, I guess, he didn’t have a sword!
My fist reaction was to be annoyed by such news but I realized a second after, that, deep inside I felt a mix of relief and disappointment to not have to walk this path. Relief to never find out if we would have been trapped by Morgana and disappointment that I felt we might have.
Never the less, as we turned around, my feet felt lighter with every step. Even the cold that was frizzing my bones was disappearing. Yet, all the messy, crazy, border line neurotic thoughts were still filling my head as it seems they decided to linger for a while.
We stopped again to admire the Golden Tree which provided some relief for my brain and finally headed back to the car to continue our exploration of the Broceliande forest. As Mr A was driving, I was silently hoping for the rest of the sites to not be as intense as the Valley of no Return!
Note: Part of the Valley of no Return is forbidden from 1st October to 31st March. Maybe because it is hunting season, but maybe it is because Morgana comes back every winter to continue to trap unfaithful lovers. Who really knows?!
Yeah, I got crazy imagination sometimes! Check out the Tale of the Shower Coin if you want to have a good laugh!