Warm greetings from Flower Mound Studio flower friends! I am just back from a month away in France. With two back-to-back classes at Le Vieux Couvent in Frayssinet, it was a whirlwind trip with fabulous students, fun excursions and tours, and plenty of painting and shopping! But in the midst of all the festivities, there was the return of elle fantome du couvent! (Cue scary music…)
I should mention, this was not the first year the ghost of Le Vieux Couvent visited during one of my workshops, although she does not appear every year I am there. Dame fantome has particular tastes about whom she wishes to greet, it seems. The one thing that these visitations have in common is where they occur, in the Medieval building. Fondly known as “The Med,” this is the oldest structure in the village of Frayssinet, and was the former home of the nuns almost 100 years ago. Over 700 years old, the Med has 3-foot thick stone walls, an ancient staircase and a heavy oak door. Each bedroom has small porticos for prayer and contemplation. The Med is by far one of the most charming places to stay at Le Vieux Couvent, with an old world feel that resonates. Each room has its own particular charm and decor, and the largest is the room formerly occupied by the Mother Superior, with a six foot wide fireplace. The fireplace is large enough to crawl into on a cold French winter eve! And just across the hall from the Mother Superior’s room is a small bedroom called Evier.
Our story begins 2 years ago
Our story begins 2 year ago, when one of my students called me aside after dinner on the fifth night of our workshop at Le Vieux. “I don’t mean to disturb you, but I have to tell you something,” she said. “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been able to sense certain things.” I had known this student for many years, and always found her to be quite sensible. But still, I braced myself for what I was about to hear. “You see,” she said, “each evening since the first night I spent in Evier, someone has been opening my door.” She went on to explain that, for three nights in a row, someone had opened her bedroom door in the middle of the night. This individual was dark, in silhouette, and difficult to see against the hallway back light. “They just opened the door, looked in, and closed it again,” she continued. On the second night she called out to the dark figure at the door, but received no response. At this point, she said she realized something unusual was occurring. This was not another student accidentally looking into the wrong room. If someone had come down the hall, the creaky old floorboards would have alerted her. And if someone had come in the ancient front door, a loud CLUNK would have echoed throughout the building when the door closed. My student said that when she prepared for bed on the third night, she put a towel over her lamp and left the lamp on. When the door opened in the middle of the night, she kept the covers over her head and shouted, “I’m sleeping!” The next morning, when she awakened, her light has been turned off, and the towel had been removed from the lamp.
She said she had never felt threatened by the presence, but had actually felt a bit of comfort from it’s appearance, other than the annoyance of being awakened from a sound sleep. I did not know what to make of her story, and we were left with a ghostly mystery.
A short time later, the next group of artists who arrived to study with me at Le Vieux, including a woman from California who had studied convents and their history. When I shared the story with her, she said, “I know exactly who that was opening the door.” Every night in a convent, she explained, the Mother Superior checks on the sleeping girls by looking in their rooms. This was the ghost of the Mother Superior, she affirmed. It does seem to make a bit of sense, considering her visits were accompanied by a feeling of comfort.
But the story does not end there….
This year, just a few weeks ago, one of the students in my October workshop who stayed in the Medieval building mentioned to us all, casually during dinner, that her bedroom door had been opening and closing in the middle of the night. She said it was the strangest thing. There was no breeze, and you could have clearly heard someone coming on the old floors of the hallway. The door never opened on its own during the day, but each night, her door would open. She said she finally locked the door at bedtime, and the openings stopped. Which room was hers? You guessed it: Evier. Right across the hall from the Mother Superior’s room. Was this a ghost? It’s impossible to know for certain, but if there were a ghost, I can easily imagine the oldest building in this ancient village would be a comfortable home for a soul who so loved and cared for her ancient abode, and her girls.
Have you ever had a ghostly encounter
or a feeling you’re in the presence of a spirit?
Share your scary stories and leave a comment for Hallow’s eve right here!
PS: Something absolutely magical is here – Paint Brilliant Italy, my new 6-week online class, is now open for registration! Learn more!