The legend of the Mées Penitents
We can see them miles around! Even travelers on the A51 motorway have an impregnable view on those stony colossus…
This mineral chaos is about 100 metres high and 2 kilometres long, on the banks of river Durance: they were slowly created with pudding stone, a rock made of sand, sandstone and little pebbles, 20 millions of years ago.
The wind and the rain sculpted those rocks and now, they evoke penitents.
Do you see this queue of monks wearing hoods? Ashamed and petrified...
In 800, valley of river Durance was invaded by Saracens. The war was gory but one single man, lord of Les Mées, succeeded in pushing them aside.
He captured 7 young Saracen ladies and brought them back in his castle, under the horrified eyes of monks living in a neighbouring monastery.
An abbey managed by saint Donat: this one implored the lord to expel those pretty tempters… the lord finally accepted.
Ladies were locked in city of Arles, in a convent, sent in a boat who went down river Durance.
But the Saracens troops had just arrived in Arles… so saint Donat ordered his monks to keep an eye on the boat.
So did our monks… but as soon as they saw the half-naked bodies of the pretty Saracens ladies, they forget everything… they forget they were monks!
Donat saw their lustful eyes, so he petrified them on the spot, their hood on the heads, along river Durance...