The legendsthe scariestof the Pink Granite Coast
Witches Dancing in the Breton Heath 2Witches Dancing in the Breton Heath 2
©Witches Dancing in the Breton Heath 2|Dall-E

Tales and legends of Brittany on the Pink Granite Coast

Warning! You’re about to discover the most frightening legends haunting the nights of the inhabitants of the Pink Granite Coast. Are you ready to risk a sleepless night, haunted by tales of specters and mysteries? You’ve been warned…
Published on 10 November 2023

As Halloween night settles on the Pink Granite Coast, this spellbinding region reveals its dark and mysterious side, tinged with the spooky legends that permeate its cliffs and beaches. Among the tales that stir the hearts of locals and visitors alike, explore the legends of the Ankou, the Intersignes, the Korrigans, King Marc’h and Arthur facing the dragon…

L’Ankou : L’Émissaire de la Mort

L’Ankou is a sinister figure from Breton mythology, embodying death itself. He is described as a gloomy man dressed in a dark cape, often wearing a black hat. His task is to collect the souls of the dead. According to legend, the Ankou travels in a creaking cart pulled by skeletal horses. His appearance is a harbinger of imminent death, and it is imperative not to cross his path, or tragedy may strike. For those wishing to see the Ankou (in complete safety), we recommend a visit to the church in Ploumilliau (4 km from Saint-Michel-en-Grève), which houses a wooden statue of him.

The chariot of death

One evening in June, a young man from Trézélan went to lead his horses to the meadows. As he whistled back, in the clear night, he heard coming against him, a creaking cart. Curious to see the legendary “cart of Death” known as “karriguel ann Ankou”, the young man hid to observe it. He saw a cart pulled by three white horses, accompanied by two men both dressed in black and wearing wide-brimmed felt caps. The cart’s axle breaks, but one of the men asks the young man to cut a branch to repair the axle. After the repair, the young man returns home unharmed, but falls ill the next day and dies. This story illustrates the belief that those who get close to the cart of Death can suffer fatal consequences…

Many stories like this one continue to fuel the legend of the Ankou…
Discover a new one with this video!

The Intersigns: Premonitions of Death

Before the coming of the Ankou, the Intersigns announce the death of a loved one. But the person to whom the intersign manifests itself is rarely the one threatened by death. If the Intersign is seen in the morning, it’s because the announced event is due to take place soon (eight days at most). If the sign is seen in the evening, the event is more distant, and may be a year or more away. It is said that the inhabitants of the Côte de Granit Rose remain on the alert for these omens, dreading the misfortune that awaits them.

Here’s a short list of omens to watch out for…
  • Whoever sees a weasel (eur garellik) must die within the year.
  • When the magpie comes to land on the roof: someone must die in the house.
  • When a rooster comes crowing very close to you: your last hour is near.
  • When dogs howl at night: death is trying to approach the house
  • The bird of death (ar sparfel) flutters around the house and knocks on the window when death comes.
  • If, during a church wedding, the candle placed in front of one of the spouses goes out: one of the spouses will soon be widowed.

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The Evil Pranksters: The Korrigans

The Korrigans are legendary creatures well known in Brittany, where they occupy a special place in local mythology and culture. These little fairy beings are often regarded as prankish, mischievous, even evil. They like to play tricks and jokes, ranging from harmless pranks to more devious deeds. For example, they can lead stray travelers astray in the woods, leaving them to get lost in mazes of rocks, or hide in houses to disrupt the daily lives of the inhabitants…

The round of the korrigans

If on the moor in the evening, you’re waiting for songs to come from beneath the earth and korrigans start dancing around you. Above all, don’t join in – on the contrary, stop it immediately! If you don’t, you’ll be leaving with the korrigans for a hundred years! The only way to stop the korrigans in their “fest-noz” is to ask them a riddle:
– “When I’m lying down, they’re standing up! When I’m up, they’re down! What’s that?”
You’re in the clear, they sit in the heather and think. If, by misfortune, a korrigan finds the answer and tells you:
-“That’s easy, it’s the feet!”
Then pull out of your pocket, another riddle:
-“4 walking, 4 hanging, a pitchfork in front, a broom behind! What’s that?”
That’ll keep you quiet until daybreak! Then the korrigans will go singing.

Le Roi Marc’h : Le Cavalier de l’Obscurité

Le Roi Marc’h, or Marc de Cornouaille, is a sinister figure who haunts the Breton night. With his horse ears, he was the legendary king of Armorique! His palace was located in PortzMarch, near Douarnenez. King Marc’h was reputed to appear before tragic events, particularly storms at sea. The sound of his Morvac’h horse’s hooves eerily echoes on the cliffs, foretelling maritime disasters. Breton sailors have long dreaded its appearance, regarding it as a warning of impending dangers.

King Marc’h and Dahut

King Marc’h loved to hunt along the Cornouaille cliffs. One day while riding his horse Morvac’h, he saw a white doe on a beach in the distance. His love of hunting drove him to shoot an arrow at the immaculate beast. But the doe was none other than Dahut, princess of the sunken city of Ys. She twirled the arrow, which hit Morvac’h and killed him instantly! King Marc’h rode down the cliff to avenge the death of his beloved horse. But Dahut stopped him and said:
-“You wanted to kill me, King Marc’h, I could kill you too, but I’m going to punish you more heavily. Since you weep so much for Morvac’h, from now on you will wear the ears and mane of your horse… From then on, King Marc’h remained hidden in his castle behind a black veil so that no one would see the terrible spell!”

Arthur and the Dragon

The legend of Arthur and the Dragon is a heroic epic that has survived the centuries. According to the tale, the brave King Arthur confronted a ferocious dragon that terrorized the region. The epic battle between the ruler and the fearsome creature shook the earth. Although Arthur triumphed, some claim that the dragon continues to haunt the coastal caverns, awaiting the day of his revenge.

How King Saint Efflam saved King Arthur?

Saint Efflam was a king who vowed to become a monk. He left his young wife Enora on his wedding night to come to Armorica, present-day Brittany.
When Saint Efflam disembarked on the Lieue de Grève, he found before him King Arthur fighting a monstrous dragon with a bright eye, red snake scales and a fish tail. The beast dwelt in a cavern at the foot of the Great Rock, from which emanated an appalling smell of sulfur. It had been three days since Arthur had fought the dragon, without being able to defeat it.
When King Arthur saw Saint Efflam, he said to him:
-“Would you, lord pilgrim, give me a drop of water?”
Efflam struck the ground with his staff and a spring gushed forth. After quenching his thirst, Arthur threw himself at the dragon, thrusting his sword into its mouth, the dragon after a last scream died as it threw itself into the sea.
Today walking around Grand Rocher, you can still see the traces of this famous battle.

Halloween on the Pink Granite Coast…

This Halloween, the Pink Granite Coast reveals its dark side, where the Ankou, the Intersigns, the Korrigans, King Marc’h and the dragon haunt the dark nights. If you decide to explore this bewitching coast on a spooky night, be prepared to face the unknown and the terror that lurks in the darkness. The Pink Granite Coast is much more than a breathtaking landscape, it’s a world of legends that leave no room for the most wary of souls. Happy Halloween!

Storytelling walks with Yvon Dagorn

Loving Breton stories and legends? Let Yvon Dagorn, storyteller since 1992, transport you with his storytelling strolls. He’ll take you on an evening tour of the town of Tréguier through stories handed down by his ancestors and collected from local personalities. Mixed with Breton words and expressions (always translated), his stories will scare you, make you laugh… and sometimes even move you, depending on the mood of the moment… Enjoy your stroll!

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