This summer i challenged myself to a mini mission cycling a round trip of 220 km in Normandy, France, camping along the way, to pay my respects to Chêne Chapelle an Oak Tree 1,000 years old situated in the sleepy village of Allouville-Bellefosse.
Since a kid I've always drawn, climbed, sheltered under and hidden inside trees. I love trees! Especially the old ones who have a few stories to tell .
In 1669 Chêne Chapelle was struck by lightning making it hollow. A religious villager decided to build two chapels inside with a staircase that spirals up and around the trunk where you enter Chambre de l'Ermite....an old meditation room? Downstairs there is another chapel named Notre Dame de la Paix (Our Lady of Peace). Chêne Chapelle is fascinating fairytale architecture, Grimm Brothers.... Tim Burton, Guillermo Del Toro... mysterious, dark, intriguing, inspirational! Inside there is a tranquil reassuring atmosphere... you feel as though you could disappear into another world.
I met a lady the day i visited who's Father had taken her to the tree as a child, she had almost forgotten where it was and how to find it, but had a magical memory of the place. Years later she returned with her son on the anniversary of her Fathers death to reconnect.
It really was as incredible as I'd imagined.Only problem is i discovered there are two more not far from this one!
|tiling to protect|
|an old engraving|
|one of two chapels inside the tree|
|i found a hidden valley of thatched homes|
|beautiful totem poles outside Allouville-Bellfosse|