Tag Archives: Primarette

A strange and worrying zoo in France

I have now written quite a few articles about the various Beasts of France, beginning with the most famous, the Beast of Gévaudan, which flourished from 1764-1767:

second-beast

And then it was the Beast of Benais, followed by the Beast of Noth, not forgetting the Beast of the Cévennes, the Beast of Primarette, the Beast of Orléans, the Beast of Lyonnais, the Beast of Sarlat, the Beast of Auxerre, the Beast of Cinglais, the Beast of Gâtinais, the list just goes on and on. Some of them were really quite peculiar creatures, even by the contemporary standards of Beastliness:

beast 1709

Not all French monsters are wolf-types, however. Here are just a few of the inmates of what the original website called “Un Zoo étrange et inquiétant en France”, “a strange and worrying zoo in France”.

The first animal is a snake, which used to live in the Forest of Fontainebleau, just to the south west of Paris:

forest of fontaineblasu

It was seen, and duly killed, by the King (Quite right too!). According to legend, it was 18 feet long, with a weight of some 160 kilos (around 350 pounds):

Giant_snakezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

This monster was venomous and used to hide in a great pile of rocks which offered him protection as no group of attackers was able to approach the creature simultaneously. Only one adversary at a time could reach him.

One day, King Francis the First or le Roi François Premier, was out hunting in the area. This king was a contemporary of King Henry VIII, at the start of the sixteenth century:

220px-Francis1-1

The King and His Royal Nose decided to put an end to this creature which had sown terror and desolation throughout the land.( Well, it was a very big pile of rocks).

BOA

The king had commissioned a suit of armour covered with razor blades. When the snake tried to coil itself around him, the razor blades, quite literally, cut the monster to pieces.  “Scratch one constrictor!” as they say.

What other animals are in the “strange and worrying zoo”?

Well, back in 1965:

“In the Toulouse area, flocks of sheep belonging to Trappist monks at the Abbey of St. Mary of the Desert, and also those belonging to the Count of Orgeix, suffered extensive depredations from a mysterious animal. Three students from the area of Cadours who were driving around one  night in the car, saw two animals which were larger than a dog or a wolf. They had light beige fur. These strange creatures were like enormous mastiffs, with huge, round, bulging eyes. The four footed killers then disappeared from the area as mysteriously as they had appeared.”

One year later, in May,

“In the region of Pignans (in the département of Var), a tenant farmer, Monsieur Baptistin, asleep in his small house, which was located some two kilometres from the village, was awakened by furious barking from his dog. He got out of bed, switched on the light and saw the silhouette of a huge animal which was disappearing into the darkness:

bigfoot giph

The next morning, he discovered near the water trough animal tracks of a startling size:

jerry-crew-taught-by-bob-titmus zzzzzzzzzzz

The authorities were alerted. The Forestry Services photographed the tracks and made a cast, but nobody was able to ascertain what kind of animal they belonged to.

For several weeks, the locals no longer dared to go out at night. The more daring people who did venture out never failed to take a reliable rifle with them.”

(Actually, it wasn’t Bigfoot, or at least I don’t think it was. It’s just that the details of this story are so vague that it is actually possible to interpret the events as being “Grand-Pied” himself, rather than some, presumably, fairly run-of-the-mill Alien Big Cat.)

In mid-August of 1966, a monster was seen haunting the area around Draguignan near the road to Grasse , a region where many UFOs had been seen, both in flight and on the ground:

“A former member of the armed forces, Monsieur Paul G… , found himself one morning around seven o’clock  face to face with an unknown creature. The animal had its mouth open.  It had a pointed snout, which was rather long, and triangular teeth. Under its neck, it had a goitre which gave it a frightening appearance. The ears were short, like those of a dog, but they were very pointed. The body was very long and covered with grey fur. The animal had a long tail, at least 40 centimetres (16 inches) in length.”

imaginative chaingyu

Interestingly, the town of Draguignan has a name and a coat of arms which are both redolent of another species of legendary animal. The town was founded around 400AD after Saint Hermentaire, the Bishop of Antibes, had overcome a dragon in single combat. Exactly how he managed this does not seem to have been recorded, but here is the coat of arms:

draguignan

It was definitely not a friendly dragon:

friendly dragon

In 1967, the presence of a number of monsters was reported throughout the whole of France. In the Creuse region in particular, between Royère and Chavanat:

Département_creuse zzzzzzzzz

…a feline of unknown species was flushed in the hamlet of Cloux Valleret by a farmer named Monsieur Simo:

surrey puma original

A week earlier, farmers in the Vosges area had already stalked an animal of indeterminate species which looked rather like a wolf:

wolf bounding

All that was easily topped though, by a report from Italy:

“In June 1970, in Meldola, about ten kilometres from Forli, a farmer claimed to have encountered some kind of dragon, six to seven metres long, with a body some 15 inches in diameter.

dragon

The Italian police organized a hunt which did not turn up anything. The monster appeared once or twice more and then disappeared forever.”

Back to France, in 1972:

“In the area around Vigan in Hérault, some medical students, out hunting in a snow covered area, discovered the footprints of an unknown animal:

yeti tracks

They followed the tracks for several kilometres. Suddenly they disappeared just in front of a rock which was projecting up out of the ground. The beast seemed to have reared up on his back end and then been recovered by his masters on board a flying machine.”

Don’t think though, that the French are especially weak minded and that this is why they continually report crazy sightings of weird animals. In this area, the British, quite rightly, are streets ahead of their nearest and dearest neighbours. But first of all, let’s just forget our many, many, ferocious Black Dogs such as Shuck and his like:

dog

Forget the werewolves seen more than once at Alconbury USAAF Air Base:

werewolf attack

Forget the sightings of Bigfoot in Cannock Chase and Sherwood Forest (an “eight-foot, hairy man beast with red glowing eyes” seen in late 2002) (allegedly):

red eyeszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Just on cats alone we are well in front. The most famous cat of all, of course, is the Beast of Bodmin:

bodmin1

But don’t forget his less famous sidekick, the Beast of Exmoor. And before that Gruesome Twosome, it was the Surrey Puma. And don’t ever forget the heyday of the Nottingham Lion.

But look at this list, put together originally by George M. Eberhart.

Don’t just skip through it. Select your top three:

“The Ashley Leopard, the Ayrshire Puma, the Beast of Ballymena, the Beast of Barnet, the Basingstoke Beast, the Beast of Beacon Hill, the Bennachie Beast, the Beast of Bin, the Blagdon Beast, the Beast of Bont, the Broadoak Beast, the Beast of Broomhill, the Beast of Bucks, the Carsington Beast, the Beast of Chiswick, the Essex Beast, the Inkberrow  Beast, the Beast of Margam, the Beast of Milton, the Beast of Otmoor, the Shropshire Border Beast, the Beast of Tonmawr, the Beast of Tweseldown (sic), the Black Beast of Gloucestershire, the Black Beast of Moray, the Brechfa Beast, the Cadmore Cat, the Chiltern Cougar, the Crondall Cougar, the Durham Puma, the Eccles Cheetah, the Fen Tiger, the Highland Puma, the Lindsey Leopard, the Mendips Monster, the M25 Monster, the Munstead Monster, the Norfolk Grinder, the Pink Panther of Derbyshire, the Penistone Panther, the Penwith Cougar, the Beast of Powis, the Rosshire Lioness, the Terror of Tedburn, the Tilford Lynx and, last but not least, the Wolds Wild Cat.”

For me it’s, in third place, the Norfolk Grinder. Second is the Penistone Panther, but my own winner is…….. the Eccles Cheetah!!

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The Beast of Primarette

The Beast of Primarette is not really a top drawer Premier League monster, so the first port of call will have to be the French version of Wikipedia. Here is my own translation:

“The “Beast of Primarette” was a man eating animal responsible for a series of attacks on humans in the vicinity of the village of Primarette in the south east of France. The first attack took place in the spring of 1747. Between then and the end of the winter in 1752, seven victims were identified in the parish registers.”

Primarette is a tiny village in south eastern France. On this map, it is represented by a red dot. The orange arrow is on holiday, but not in France:Untitled

In 1747, François Malarin, the village priest of Primarette, reported the very violent death of a little boy in his parish :

“In the year 1747 and on the 23rd of May, the Tuesday of Whitsuntide, during the service of Vespers, a carnivorous wolf (loup carnassier) seized the child of François Malarin from the door of their house in the presence of his mother. She was unable to snatch the child back from the animal’s teeth. Several people returning from Vespers heard the story of this misfortune and ran into the woods, following the trail of blood left behind by the child. They found some of his limbs scattered on the ground including the head, the arms, an upper leg and a foot. These body parts were all buried in the presence of Michel and Gabriel Perrochat, father and son, Antoine Jeury, Jean Bassat, Claude Berthier and several other people who had rushed to see this sad sight. The child, aged around seven years and one month old, was the legitimate son of François Malarin from Espagnoux and Fleurice Petit. Whereof I have signed, not the witnesses, who do not know how to write.

                                         Favre the Priest.

An “x” is appended by Michel Malarin as a supplementary act.”

A sketch is in existence:

150 wolf child

This beast, most un-wolf-like in its behaviour, was later to claim several more victims, and the priest reported later that year the level of emotion aroused by these incidents. In the Parish Register of 1747 he wrote therefore:

“There have been this year a large crop of acorns, and carnivorous wolves have eaten three children in Primarette. It is believed that they were most probably lynxes and the common people believe that they are werewolves. Until the priests give the peasants permission to carry out hunts armed with pairs of spectacles, nothing will be able to cure their stupid credulity.”

Below is the original parish register entry, in French, of the paragraph translated above. See if you can pick out any words, such as “loups”, “carnassiers”, “loups garous” or any other words. I can’t imagine any reader would be expecting to manage to read French written by long dead Favre the Priest in 1747. Nor indeed, would he be expecting anybody to still be reading his words in 2015:

800px-Primarette-1747-9NUM_AC324A_6-p48

Here is a werewolf, a “loup garou” filmed by a trailcam in Wisconsin:

werewolf

The last victim within the bounds of the parish of Primarette was found in 1752, but nobody was ever able to identify the animal responsible for all these attacks.

Here is a very large wolf. It will calm you down after the werewolf. This animal was filmed by a trailcam in northern Scotland:

wolf bounding
Here is a list of the poor victims:

May 23rd 1747                       Michel Malarin, 7 years of age
June 1st 1747                          Joseph Fournier, 13 years of age
October 24th 1747                 Mathieu Roux, 5 years of age
October 11th 1748                 Benoite Pichon, 2 years of age
January 23rd 1749                Marie Peiron, 6 years of age
May 14th 1751                        Jeanne Fervonat, years of age
February 19th 1752               Marianne Boindrieux, 3 years of age

Another French website suggests that mention of the huge number of acorns, and the presence of man eating wolves may be connected in the minds of the locals at Primarette. Perhaps they had some kind of superstition about this.
It is unfortunate that no description of the beast seems to have survived, although I would continue to argue that if the locals in this area thought that all the deaths in the area were caused by lynxes or werewolves, then that in itself lends credence to the idea that it was no ordinary wolf, an animal with which they would have been only too familiar. Favre the Priest tried hard to give people in the distant future some idea, adding little sketches to the side of his manuscript:

1747-38-Primarette-A1737a wolf

Here is a pair of wolf’s heads:

two wolves

I have enlarged some of the sketches. Again, you may be able to read some of Favre the Priest’s words:

wolf sketch

Here is a second head, with the name “Marianne Boindrieux”:

another wolf sketch

See if you can see the signature of Favre the Priest (“curé”):

more and more wolfsxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

This cryptid did not behave like an ordinary wolf. A wolf does not attack people at their front door. I’m not sure either, that a wolf would run off, dismembering its victim, and scattering body parts around, almost in sheer glee. And why did the same individual wolf remain in this area from May 23rd 1747 to February 19th 1752? Or was it a number of individuals from a local population, all with the same deviant behaviour? Members of a different species, in fact? “Like a wolf, but not a wolf.”

In so many cases like this, the original French text calls the animals “loups carnassiers”. “Carnassiers” means “carnivorous” or “predatory”. Why do they keep appending this epithet to the word “loup”?

And how on earth can  this continuing series of creatures continue to be explained away either by the nefarious activities of Jean Chastel and his sons, or the accidental interbreeding of wolf and dog? It has become a truism nowadays to say that “wolves don’t interbreed with dogs. They eat them.”

And what happened to the Beast of Primarette after 1752? Did it take early retirement?

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