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The Legend of Dame Sirmonde – Roussillon

Roussillon is ranked as one of the most beautiful villages of France and is totally unique. Roussillon is in the very heart of the biggest ochre deposits in the world and is distinguished by a wide palette of flamboyant colours. The village developed from an original castle which was built in 987. There is a famous legend, yet to be confirmed.

Lady Sermonde and Lord Raymond d’Avignon lived in the castle in Roussillon. Guillaume de Cabestan, son of the Lord of Cabestan in the Hautes Alpes was taken on at Roussillon castle to work as a page and to apprentice to a knight in order to learn knightly ways. Raymond d’Avignon, who was an avid hunter, preferred the company of his horses and huntsmen, and often left his wife alone. With time, Dame Sermonde and Guillaume fell in love. The young page’s songs became more insistent and obvious, and the domestics at the castle reported their suspicions to Lord Raymond d’Avignon. 

Wanting to know more about the situation, Lord Raymond invited young Guillaume on a hunting party, and turned the conversation to his wife. So as not to betray Dame Sermonde, Guillaume told Lord Raymond that indeed he was in love, but with Dame Sermonde’s sister, Agnès. To be sure, Raymond d’Avignon decided to travel to the nearby town of Tarascon, with Guillaume, in order to have confirmation of Guillaume’s story. Agnès quickly understood all that was at stake, and to save the two lovers, she played along. Dame Sermonde learned of her husband’s actions, and was both furious with his behaviour and indignant that her love for Guillaume went unacknowledged. She demanded that Guillaume tell their story in one of his songs. Guillaume sang of their love and, hearing the truth, Raymond d’Avignon flew into a rage and took his revenge. During a hunting party, he stabbed Guillaume in the back, cut off his head, and cut out his heart. He returned to the castle with the heart and had his cook prepare it with a spicy sauce. 

Dame Sermonde delighted in the dish, until her husband informed her that she had just partaken in dining on the heart of her lover. “Seigneur”, she said, “you have given me such a good meal, that I never want to taste anything else again”. 

Realising that his wife was escaping his control, Raymond d’Avignon drew his sword, but Dame Sermonde fled out of the castle to the edge of the cliff, and threw herself over the top. It is said that her blood coloured the lands all around, and that a spring gushed forth at the point where her fall ended. 

Discover this beautiful village on any of our Villa Maison Provence tours, walk the village and relive the “Legend”

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