Monday, August 11, 2014

Rennes-le-Château: Saunière's Home

Trip to Aude: Day4
After you've passed through Saunière Museum (see previous post), you enter the house that Father Saunière built. The one that started off the whole conspiracy theory business. It's a nice, attractive little bourgeois home with a modest garden and an orangery. The only 'extravagant' touch is the slightly fanciful 'Tour Magdala' (Magdalene Tower), a stubby tower and a walkway that he build on the side overlooking the cliff. But still, it is hardly a 19th century French Xanadu. It is the sort of home that a prosperous doctor or lawyer of that epoch might have built himself. But it was possibly a bit too much for the humble folk of this tiny hamlet circa 1905. They wondered where their impecunious padre got the money from. His pay from the church certainly wasn't enough to cover construction costs. It started tongues wagging. And they still haven't stopped wagging, nearly two centuries on. It has funded an enormous conspiracy theory business. Dan Brown has probably constructed several homes in Southern California a great deal more extravagant than this one, from the proceeds of Da Vinci Code, as have his publisher and the producers of the movie version. Heck, even the writers of Holy Blood, Holy Grail must have made a small fortune out of it, despite their small-minded and avaricious lawsuit against Dan Brown (As some sort of a novelist myself, I have strong feelings about it. In my view, Dan Brown went way beyond the demands of normal decency by mentioning HBHG right in the text of the novel, instead of just in the acknowledgements. Millions around the world bought HBHG just because of that. Why, even I bought my copy after reading of it in DVC. Instead of being satisfied with that, M/S  Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln decided they wanted a slice of the DVC millions too, and brought a copyright infringement lawsuit. Luckily, they lost. Otherwise novelists around the world would have been facing the consequences today.)
Besides these two, there have been at the last count over a thousand other conspiracy theory books in English and French, all centered on the little village of Rennes-le-Château and Father Saunière. This village too has done well out its notoriety. This otherwise insignificant village gets hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, all idiots like me, who give a bounce to the local economy.
Indeed, nearly everyone has done well out of this. All except poor old Father Saunière, who died in penury in 1917, harried by the church in ecclesiastical trials.

Anyhow, here are the pics of the infamous Saunière Home:
The first thing you see on leaving the museum is Father Saunière's grave, and the garden.

Next up, the orangery, walkway and Tour Magdala, with a magnificent view of the valley from the ramparts.

This is the inside of Tour Magdala. It actually houses Saunière's library. I believe he never got the chance to sit there and read.

And then the house itself. A typical 19th century French bourgeois villa.

After seeing all this, I felt rather sad about Father Saunière. All the poor chap did was try and build himself a nice little home. And people are still talking about it.

Tomorrow's post: The church of Mary Magdalene where Saunière presided.

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