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Sassenage tanks, the lair of the fairy Mélusine

A tank | Christophe Delaere / CC-BY
Natural cavity Legend Sassenage tanks

Sassenage: caves, a torrent

The cuves de Sassenage are caves born 1,5 millions of years ago, created by an underground river: the Germe.

The torrent Furon (an affluent of river Isère which source is located in the commune of Lans-en-Vercors) forms a resurgence at the caves’ exit.

You know what? We are here on a mythical site: those tanks are part of the 7 merveilles du Dauphiné (″Dauphiné’s 7 wonders″) with the mount Aiguille or caves of la Balme!

Mélusine: a fairy in Sassenage!

Clairvoyant pots

In Sassenage, we also visit the castle but also the lovely gorges where runs the torrent Furon.

We have also caves, the famous cuves (″tanks″): two big water tanks dug in the soil.

Normally, those tanks are dry… The tradition says the water appeared each year for the Epiphany, and disappeared the next day.

According to the quantity of water, people could predict things, especially for the harvests (a tank predicted for the vineyards, the other one for the cereals).

Handy! And in those tanks, we found the famous fairy Mélusine: we left her in the castle of Sassenage...

The snake woman

The fairy Mélusine! Well, originally it was a story from Poitou, but it was popularized in the 14th century by the book written by Jehan d’Arras, so we find it everywhere in France, like here, in Isère.

Hey, lords from the castle of Sassenage claimed their ancestor was Mélusine herself!

So, the pretty Mélusine changed herself into a big snake every Saturday. Yuk! She forbade her husband from seeing her.

But Raymondin found her behavior pretty weird… so one day, he looked through the lock on her bedroom’s door… and discovered the truth.

Mélusine had a dip in her tanks

Surprised, Mélusine ran away by the window, yelling, and never came back… she moved in the caves.

Well, she was fine, here; every day she had a quick dip in the tanks.

Before her death, she gave the cave’s waters a big power: to predict the good and the ill-fated.

Hey, by the way, you know what? We find in the torrent Furon some ″ophthalmic stones″, nicknamed ″Mélusine’s tears″: pebbles which cured irritated eyes...

The visit of the tanks

We can enter in the cave by a little road going along the gorge (20 min. of steep), on the foothills of the Vercors nature reserve. Inside, brr: don’t forget your sweat, it’s about 12°C! The visit lasts 1 hour.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!