Thursday, August 23, 2007

Saint-Bitochon, un monument bien monte

In today's Le Canard enchaine, the great French political muckraking journal, there was a little article on a little known touristic site in the Poitou-Charentes region. A grand monument to bad neighbors, the stele of Saint-Bitochon.
The 6 meter tall vaguely suggestive monument made of stone and covered in pink concrete was built in 1866 by Louis Bordier over a subterrenean grotto. He was inspired to do so when his neighbor, the Countess of Gue decided to build a Neo-Romantic Chateau. Louis thought that the style of the chateau was an outrage and he feuded with his neighbor over her right to build the monstrosity in his view.
She went ahead and built it but the next year, a strange turgescence rose from the earth right under the Countess's delicate nose, just over the property line.
Louis was making his statement. The 6 meter stele has a hollow pipe running up the center and Louis, ever the braggart, well into his 60's let it be known that the monument would spout smoke when ever he was entertaining his mistress.
The monumental shaft was smoking continuously, the fire stoked in the subterrenean chamber below. Whether Louis was the sexagenarian sexual athlete he claimed to be or just a nasty neighbor, we will never know.
This was too much for the delicate sensibilities of the Countess, who found it neccessary to block up all the windows on the side of her castle with a view of the naughty object.
Over the years, the property changed hands but the stele remained and became the site of a local pilgrimage by locals who invented the legend of Saint-Bitochon. Women would come to rub their bellies on the shaft to insure a pregnancy and was a popular trysting site for many couples over the century. Newly weds come to have their picture taken in front of the stele for good luck. Saint-Bitochon has entered the pantheon of the neo pagan deities still worshipped by the country folks as fertility Saints.
The owner of the property keeps it open and is very proud of the monument saying, "It's almost the same as having the Eiffel Tower."


Man with the Muck-rake said...

Saint-Bitochon has entered the pantheon of the neo pagan deities still worshipped by the country folks as fertility Saints.

How nice to note that tradition still exists. Seems to me no different than those who worship the Man in the Sky. At least the neo-pagans are not as violent and conniving as the Sky Man worshipers.

Village Green said...

Fascinating tale! Thanks for the reporting and the picture.