Here, we are near Domrémy-la-Pucelle, in Joan of Arc’s land... what about the Bois Chenu (″Bald Wood″)? An old oak forest, pretty ancient and sacred! Here we find a basilica at the end of the 19th century, raised by architect Paul Sédille (he re-built the famous department shore Le Printemps in Paris).
Building works only ended in 1945. So, nothing to see with Joan? Yes! He raised it where she used to play, when she was a kid. The place where she heard her voices, too, who gave her a mission.
Besides, a little path leads us to the ″fountain of the Febriles″ (fontaine des Fiévreux), where a plaque echoes an extract of Joan’s trial, in Rouen. Judges asked her: ″Next to the fountain and the tree, did the saints call you?″ She said: ″Yes, and I heard them.″ A tree? Yes, let’s see that!
In the Bois Chenu was a big beech tree, very tall and gorgeous: people here called it ″the Fairies’ trees″ or le Beau Mai. The tradition says that fairies came under the leaves to sing and dance at night… In Domrémy, people used to come to dance and have picnic.
They hang flowers crowns on the tree. Everyone, the young, the old, lords of Domrémy… especially during the Lent, known as the ″Fountains’ Day″, where the young maids cleaned fountains and wells. A pagan celebration, if you want! Joan also took part, like her friend Mengette: she loved this handsome tree…
Well worth seeing in the basilica: in the crypt dedicated to Our-Lady-of-Armies, we can see the pretty statue of Our-Lady of Bermont. Do you remember? She used to be in the chapel of Bermont, not far from here: Joan came to prey her every Saturday.
Under the vaults, big wall paintings by Lionel Royer, representing Joan’s life, while French blazons in the choir evoke cities crossed by the Maid. Yes, Joan is everywhere, here! Hey, come under the porch: a sculpted group by Allard represents Joan hearing her voices (saints Catherine and Marguerite, plus Michel).