The French love a good ghost story, from royal headless ghosts and underground cemeteries to the home of a serial killer. These are 13 of the most haunted places in France to visit this Halloween
Underneath the streets of Paris is one of the spookiest places in France – the Paris catacombs. Opened in the 18th century, the catacombs are one of the largest graveyards on record with the remains of around 6 million people buried here. It is a maze of dark passageways with walls lined with skulls and skeletons that is enough to give anyone a fright. There are a few skeletons that aren’t meant to be there either – like that of Philibert Aspairt whose body was found in 1804, 9 years after he disappeared in the catacombs.
Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris
A cemetery is a good place to visit if you’re looking for ghosts and Paris is home to one of the most haunted cemeteries in the world – and they aren’t just any ghosts. Opened in 1804, Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris has more than 300,000 tombs and graves and is the final resting place of some really famous names including Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Molière and Marcel Proust. Visitors report eerie feelings and ghostly apparitions – ghosts that seem to like the limelight are reportedly Chopin and Jim Morrison.
Palace and gardens of Versailles
Chances are you have probably been to the Palace of Versailles but did you know it is haunted by one of France’s most famous queens? Beheaded during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette now roams her home – there are numerous reported sightings of her ghost wandering the gardens or in her royal bedchamber.
Mont St-Michel, Normandy
Another of France’s iconic tourist attractions, Mont Saint-Michel is said to be haunted by the ghost of Louis d’Estouville. He commanded the garrison at the abbey and led the slaughter of 2,000 Englishmen during the Hundred Years’ War. According to legend, the sand around the garrison was red with blood and he still guards Mont Saint-Michel – so beware any English visitors!
Read more: The best ways to explore Mont Saint-Michel
Château de Châteaubriant, Brittany
Legend has it that at the first stroke of midnight on 16 October a ghostly procession of knights and monks following Françoise de Foix slowly climb the stairs of the Château de Châteaubriant before disappearing at the last stroke. Françoise was the wife of Jean de Laval-Châteaubriant and mistress of King Francis I and she died suddenly on 16 October 1537. Legend has it she was locked in a room and poisoned by her jealous husband.
La Dame Blanche
One of France’s most famous ghost stories involves La Dame Blanche (the white lady). There have been several sightings of a woman dressed in white asking drivers for a lift. Once in the car she screams and vanishes. One of the most famous sightings was in Palavas-les-Flots in 1981 when some young men picked up a woman dressed in white who then disappeared after screaming ‘beware of the curb’. Another place to visit to see La Dame Blanche is Château de Puymartin in Dordogne. This ghostly woman in white is said to be Thérèse de Saint-Clar who was imprisoned in a room at the top of the tower for 15 years by her husband after he caught her with a lover. She died in the room and her body was entombed in the wall of her prison.
Château de Brissac
In the Loire Valley, Château de Brissac has been involved in various wars but the ghosts that now haunt the castle are that of Charlotte de Brézé and her lover who were murdered by her husband Jacques de Brézé in the 15th century. Their ghosts have been seen roaming the castle and their wailing can be heard throughout the building.
Monts d’Arree nuclear reactor
The site of a decommissioned nuclear reactor in the Monts d’Arree is known by locals as ‘the gates of hell’. Legend has it a little girl was sacrificed by devil worshippers at the site and her ghost and that of a demon dog haunt the area.
Fôret de Brocéliande, Brittany
Thought to be the ancient forest of King Arthur, the Fôret de Brocéliande has several spooky areas including the Val Sans Retour (valley of no return). According to legend this is where the sorceress Morgan le Fay imprisoned unfaithful youths and the Rocher des Faux Amants high above the valley is where she enticed her prisoners.
Château des Fougeret, Vienne
Château de Fougeret is popular with ghost hunters and has even been on French TV several times. There are photos of ‘ghosts’ taken by the French Institute for Research and Experimentation on Spirits displayed in the living room and those who are brave enough to stay the night report seeing ghostly apparitions and voices telling them to go away and leave the castle in peace.
Maison de Landru, Yvelines
The owner of this house, Henri Désiré Landru murdered 10 women and one teenage boy in his house. Between 1914 and 1919, Landru put advertisements in the lonely hearts sections of Paris newspapers to entice them to his home and then murdered them and burned their dismembered bodies in his oven. He was eventually caught, convicted and executed by guillotine. It is said his victims haunt the house in Gambais in Yvelines and various tenants have been quickly driven out of the house by the ghosts.
The ‘bleeding house’, Aisne
One of France’s most famous ghost stories thanks to a TV programme about it involves the ‘bleeding house’. A family moved into the house in St-Quentin in Aisne and began to hear moans and noises and blood started to appear on the walls. The family left the house from a week and returned to find blood everywhere. The house was destroyed and the remains of 50 German soldiers from WWI were found under the house.
Basilique du Bois-Chenu Domremy
Another place to try to spot a famous ghost is the Basilique du Bois-Chenu Domremy, a church dedicated to the memory of Joan of Arc and near her home town of Domremy. Joan of Arc is one of France’s heroines who fought the English in the Hundred Years’ War and was burned at the stake. There have been several sightings of her ghost at the Basilica as well as other less famous ghostly figures.