The precipice of the Two-Lovers

Amfreville-sous-les-Monts is a commune with 555 inhabitants (in 2010) in the département Eure in the Haute-Normandie in France. It lies in a loop of the Seine, south of the mouth of the river Andelle. East of Amfreville-sous-les-Monts lies a high plain, in the west lies the lake “Lac des Deux-Amants” (‘Lake of the Two-Lovers’). On the other side of the river Andelle lies Pitres, which was an important city in the times of the Merovingians and the Carolingians. The king Charles the Bald (823-877) had a palace there.

Containership in a lockage at Amfreville-sous-les-Monts, photo on wikimedia-commons by user Spedona, licence: CC by SA/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Charles Nodier (1780-1844) was a French Romantic author, he wrote “La Seine et ses bords” (‘the Seine and it’s riversides’) from 1836 to 1837, amoung other landscapes he described the “côte des Deux-Amants” (‘slope of the Two-Lovers’).

On page 139 Nodier wrote: On the slope of the high plain, on which the rustic houses of Amfreville stand today, there was once a massive castle, its ruins have disappeared long time ago. The castle belonged to a tyrant. He had a beautiful daughter. A knight, that was living in the neighbourhood, fell in love with her. The tyrant was not pleased with the knight and therefore made a condition for the wedding, the knight had to carry the girl on his shoulders up the slope. If her feet touched the ground before they reached the mountaintop, they couldn’t marry. The knight carried his beloved up the slope. When they arrived on the mountaintop, the knight dropped with exhaustion in front of the tyrant and his entourage. The girl took the knight in her arms, but he was already dead. She lifted his corpse and threw herself in the abyss. The lord of the castle regretted, that he had driven his daughter and the knight into death. He built a chapel on the place, which became the priory “Prieuré des Deux-Amants” later. There are no traces left of the original chapel.

Old postcard of the côte des Deux-Amants in the archives of the département Eure

The priory was founded in the 12th century, destroyed in the 17th century and rebuilt 1685. It was dissolved and sold in the course of the French Revolution (1789-1799). The residential building still exists, it is called “château des Deux-Amants”, ‘castle of the Two-Lovers’, and is privately owned.

The château des Deux-Amants, old postcard in the archives of the département Eure.

The legend of the two lovers exists since the 12th century. In some versions the daughter and the knight have names, for example Calliste and Edmond. Calliste didn’t jump in the abyss, she cried herself to death.

Old postcard of a contemporary engraving of the priory (source: archives of the département Eure).

Old postcard in the archives of the département Eure, that depicts a romantic image of the two lovers.

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