Occitan Myths and Legends

They accompany us and are at the origin of construction and stories. Sometimes a little absurd, sometimes inspiring. Discover the Occitan legends, which have crossed time and who will be told to you today.

l’Aligot

One can only dream of knowing more about who is (or is not) the originator of this potato delight.

The story begins in 590. King Eutalius dreamed of having a son, despite all his attempts with his wife and mistresses, he had 17 daughters and not one boy (not for lack of trying apparently). Very upset (17 girls means no heir at the time) he summoned the bishops of Auvergne, Gévaudan and Rouergue, well- known to be specialists in terms of fertility and the birth of a male heir (it is well known that it is controlled), to chat about how to have a little Eutalius Jr.

Delighted to be able to expose their science, they met on the Causse de l’Aubrac to talk about it!
The bishop of Auvergne brought potatoes, a bold choice when you have neither butter nor water available. The bishop of Rouergue brought cheese, cream and butter (fortunately the bishop of Rouergue was in favour of the slogan “dairy products are our friends for life”, because with the Auvergne bishop, it would have ended badly). As for the bishop of Gévaudan, a little stingy on the edges, he left with his hands in his pockets. In my opinion his colleagues must have made small understatements to him, because he later bought garlic and salt. It’s not insignificant, we say that we say nothing!

The small problem was that none of them knew how to cook and not one of them had followed Top Chef, so they soon went hungry. Personally in their situation I would have eaten a piece of cheese but hey, they don’t look very sharp to me. Anyway, by chance a farmer came by and helped them, and by help I mean he mixed everything in a cauldron! Thank God, the mixture was a real treat and the bishops ate it until they fell asleep.
When they woke up, the bishops, feeling a little heavy but fulfilled, decided to go home and promised to quickly make themselves some food (well, food made by someone else, remember that they don’t have any cooking skills)! And as they were not very eco-friendly, they left the cauldron in the Aubrac limestone plateau. That’s why the recipe became a speciality of the region!

What a beautiful and touching story, but we forget someone there : Eutalius. It is nevertheless him who is at the base of their meeting! Well, Eutalius had six other daughters and then he died. 

Moral of the story: have girls. If Eutalius had had a son, the bishops would not have met and therefore the aligot would not have been created. QED.

Carcassonne :

But where does the name of one of the most famous medieval cities in France come from? Well, from a woman, but especially from an ingenious woman. The legend Dame Carcas (the name would be a bit of a misnomer) dates back to the 8th century. The army of Charlemagne, Carolus Magnus to his friends, was at the gates of the city. Clearly, he didn’t come as a friend. The Carolus was not a joker, in terms of conquests and territorial annexations, he had a long list of achievements. In short, Charlemagne was there, making his little siege of the city, talking about the rain and the good weather. 

Inside the city, a woman, Princess Carcas, was at the head of the knights (girl power is no joke). And thanks to her instructions, the city held the siege for 5 years (which is kind of huge, do you remember what you were doing 5 years ago ?).
Unfortunately, after 5 years without any supermarket to stock up, the reserves were almost empty of food and clearly there were only a few pigs and wheat left.Except that far from letting herself be taken apart, Dame Carcas, n°1 poker player on winamax, had an idea: bluffing!   Also under the eyes of Carlos’ soldiers, she started feeding the pigs with the bags of wheat and pouring them from the highest tower of the City at the foot of the outer ramparts (author’s note: see if “throwing money out of the windows” doesn’t also come from this legend).

Charlemagne and his men, who were very gullible, thought that the city must still be overflowing with food if they squandered it like that. So he lifted the siege (6 years lost, instead of the soldiers I would have had it bad, and called him Carolus Minus).  On her side, seeing their enemies turn back, Dame Carcas understood that her idea had worked very well and to celebrate this, she asked the troubadour to “hit it !”, so all the town bells were used.  And in the distance, a soldier from Charlemagne, with a rather fine ear, cried out “Carcas sonne! » (which means “carcas rang” in french)

Moral of the story: a brain is better than muscles. 

The hare of the Pont du Gard :

There was once a very beautiful young woman in Nîmes, loved and courted by a very rich and handsome young man. Before agreeing to marry her handsome friend, she said to herself that it would be super nice to make him pass a little test, to prove his love (bad idea in general): to bridge the waters of the Eure source and those of Nîmes. 

Having the purse well filled (which always helps a little), our dear friend, hired some workers to undertake the job, he thinks that a bridge will do the trick (and he was right, he was clever, too bad he wants to marry a stupid girl who tests him).
The problem is that in terms of feasibility it was not possible (the canal had to be carried from one mountain to another over the Gardon, we are not architects or bridge engineers but it seems very complicated), so as soon as they put a stone, it was gone! This until the arrival of a foreigner. The latter proposed to build the bridge but on one condition: that the first individual who would pass over belongs to him. So first, it is very suspicious to propose that and then not very smart since everyone understood that it was the devil! SPOILER! In short, he snapped his fingers, or perhaps shook his behind, the historical testimonies are not very precise about how he used his particular powers, and the bridge was built. 

Except that, nobody wanted to be the first to walk on the bridge, which is understandable. Hell doesn’t look like much fun, even Lucifer ran away from it to play cops in L.A., so we can’t blame anyone. 

But the clever lover had an idea: he took a hare and let it loose on the bridge, making him the first one to pass by. The devil who at the other end of the bridge was waiting impatiently for his prey, threw the poor hare against the bridge when he realised that it wasn’t a human. (You’ll tell me he must not have a great view to only realise it now, but hey, maybe we don’t have a super mutual in hell, and all this smoke must be damaging the cornea).  

All that remains of this unfortunate victim is his footprint, forever marked in stone. The good news is that the Pont du Gard has become a famous monument, and therefore a fortiori him too, since he is part of it. In the end, the lover returned to Nîmes (probably a little frightened by this barbaric rabbit explosion) to marry his beautiful Nîmoise and live a couple’s life based on non-vegan trials, except that during his little journey, the young girl had locked herself up in a convent.

Moral of the story: there is no real moral here, just avoid talking to shady strangers, that’s all. 

A city without magpies :

“A giant had taken up residence in the ruins of the castle that dominated the village, in the company of a magpie, and he terrorised the villagers”. 

You will tell me that the beginning of the story is not crazy. Why can’t people live in peace, at worst every man for himself and God for all! And a magpie? Wasn’t there a crow (bad bird in chief) available in the area? Anyway. As you can imagine, the situation wasn’t during forever. There is always a valiant knight ready to lead a noble quest, even in a poor village there is a hero with a heart of gold (we are poets) ready to split the beast. Here we are talking about Guilhem. He is thinking and wondering how to approach the giant without being killed right from the start. He had the idea to disguise himself as a maid and to pretend to carry water to the castle (Guilhem loves watching Rupauls Drag Race and knows a lot about transformation, he is a pro). 

Meanwhile, the magpie was making its little round around the giant’s castle, probably looking for something shiny to steal (yes, shameful prejudices about this bird are persisting). That’s how she saw Guilhemette heading towards the castle. She thinks that the maid must have eaten well in the canteen and sauced the dish with the bread, because she was quite a big girl! When she got a little closer, she discovered that Guilhemette was in fact… Guilhem, shocking ! (She’s a particularly clever magpie, not the kind to go and make fun of everything). 

The magpie quickly went to warn the giant, who was blinded by the opulent breasts made with cushion of guilhem, and told her that she was just a stocky woman with a H shape my dear. (It may be that the dialogue has been hijacked for the sake of the script). Walking with his bucket of water, Guilhem drew his sword from its scabbard, and a fight to the death ensued. Indeed, the victorious Guilhem threw his enemy down the cliffs of the castle. At the time, there was no abandonment possible in a fight.

Feeling the danger, the magpie then fled to hide somewhere, but apparently quite well. And since that day, the villagers have lived in peace and quiet, and none of them, although the Gellone valley is frequented by many species of birds, has ever seen a magpie again.

Moral of the story: Always listen to your friends. 

Now you know some legend to tell to the next family meal, which will be in view of the current situation in a little while. The good news is that until then, there will be a lot of articles published (YEY! ) and I promise we will come back with a second article on legends ! 
So see you soon! 

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