Genost de Laforest, the hunter priest of Chapaize

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The plaque - ©GdeLaB / CC-BY-SA The plaque - ©GdeLaB / CC-BY-SA
Saint-Martin church in Chapaize Parish church Accident Nicolas Genost de Laforest Animals

Nicolas, Ragotin and coypu

A very special priest lived in Chapaize: Nicolas Genost de Laforest. The most famous priest in Chapaize, at the end of the 18th c. (1751-1783), born in Tournus in Burgundy, immortalized by a 19th century author, Théodore de Foudras: with his novel Les gentilshommes chasseurs (“The Hunter Gentlemen”) he became the abbot Duverger.

Foudras described him: “He was 45 years, all skin and bone, with a nice and colourful face, a nice fellow.” And what was this man’s weakness? Hunting! He had a real arsenal, lots of guns, a little bay horse, Ragotin and dogs: with that, he could hunt the coypu, track the fox. But also biggest creatures!

A wolf bigger than a horse!

In 1773, a rabid wolf attacked several people in the area of Chapaize. Nicolas started a beat, tracking the beast like a real retriever. He easily caught it, and became a real hero… a legend! And the period newspapers exaggerated the wolf’s size, saying that he was as tall as a horse… yeah, a legend! Even king Louis XV congratulated him.

But while he was tracking an animal in the woods, near the castle of Lugny, in 1783, his mount unhorsed him. Wounded, Nicolas died after few days of death throes…

La Daubigny, scouts’ song

Théodore de Foudras (a hunter, too) even dedicated Nicolas a song, La La Daubigny, still singing by scouts nowadays.

The refrain says: La Daubigny résonne dans Charpaize Ses plus fiers accords Et l’on entend quand le vent s’apaise Raire un vieux dix cors., “La Daubigny proudly resounds in Chapaize. And when the wind dies down, we can hear an old horn ringing” The Daubigny? Yes, the name of one of the church’s bell… Hey: look, a plaque on the wall of the presbytery of Chapaize pays a tribute to our hunter priest.


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