Forest of Fontainebleau:
The remains of the Ermitage de Franchard.
From the twelfth century and perhaps before, the wild site of Franchard attracted the lonely pious. It was first a simple chapel dedicated to Saint Alexis, then to the Virgin under the name of Our Lady of Franchard. The solitude of the place made it dangerous, a first hermit was assassinated, a second suffered the same fate. The third was Brother Guillaume, canon of Saint Euverte d'Orleans. Guillaume was luckier than his predecessors and settled at Franchard. He sent for other monks and soon the hermitage grew and became a monastery. In 1169, the monks built a fountain called "fountains of the hermits". In 1197, Philip Augustus made the concession perpetual.
More than a century and a half passed without any major event disturbing the prayers of the community. The Hundred Years' War put an end to this tranquility and the monastery was completely destroyed.
A news item caused a sensation on September 12, 1626, when the painter Auguste Garondel and two of his companions were murdered at Franchard. In 1661, the Duchesse de Montpensier recounts in her memoirs a walk that Monsieur, brother of the king, did in the gorges, accompanied by his suite and twenty-four violins.
In 1676, the king handed over the hermitage to the Trinitarians of Fontainebleau, who restored the chapel and came to celebrate Pentecost, which attracted the population on pilgrimage. Outside of this event, the place remained dangerous because very isolated. The hermits were no more than a band of ragged robbers in the area. After several assassinations, the place was definitively abandoned and by a decision of the Council of the Regency dated 17 February 1717, the buildings were demolished.
Under the reign of Louis XV, a guard house is built, to which is added in the nineteenth century an oratory. The Franchard Madonna, dated from the 14th century, in polychrome wood, was removed during the Revolution of 1789 and collected by the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul de Fontainebleau. In June 1982, at the beginning of these, she is installed in the chapel of the Virgin of the church Saint-Louis de Fontainebleau (statue destroyed during a arson on January 10, 2016). The one currently seen at Franchard was offered in 1963 by Canon Forestier, then priest-archpriest of Fontainebleau.
In 1813 by order of Napoleon, for the convenience of the ranger, the administration has a well dug at 66 meters deep, but it will never give much water and it will be closed in 1904. In the Belle Epoque, the wife of the guard was authorized to sell the milk of her two cows for her benefit.
From the old hermitage, there are only a few buttresses and a wall of a thick wall today.
France is affectionately referred to as "the Hexagon" for its overall shape.French history goes back to the Gauls, a Celtic tribe which inhabited the area circa 300BC until being conquered by Julius Caesar.The Franks were the first tribe to adopt Catholic Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed. France became an independent location in the Treaty of Verdun in (843 AD), which divided up Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into several portions.The French monarchy reached its zenith during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who stood for seventy-two years as the Monarch of all Monarchs. His palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors are a splendid treasure-trove of Baroque art.The French Revolution ended the rule of the monarchy with the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" On July 14th, 1789 angry mobs stormed La Bastille prison and began the Revolution in which Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and thousands of others met the guillotine.One decade after the revolution, Napolean Bonaparte seized control of the Republic and named himself Emperor. His armies conquered most of Europe and his Napoleonic Code became a lasting legal foundation for concepts of personal status and property.During the period of colonization France controlled the largest empire in the world, second only to Britain.France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as one of the nuclear armed nations of the world.Text by Steve Smith.