Just before you reach the village of Tresse, this allee couverte is signposted from the road, leading you to a woodland parking spot.
The area is busy with people walking in the woods, most with baskets full of mushrooms foraged from the forest, and we follow the well-trodden path a short way through the lovely mature trees to the monument.
The Maison des Fees really is in an idyllic setting, the woods in full autumn splendour, and as leaves fall in a gentle cascade around us with each breath of wind, the sylvan quality of the setting really does make you think we could be in the presence of the fey. The monument itself as well isn’t half bad, a long passage grave, once covered by a mound, now left exposed like the petrified skeleton of some great beast. Sprouting near the entrance is a strange bolete, a miniature fairy toadstool, and the folklore of the place still seems redolent in the air.
At once I scamper down the passage, low enough that I have to hunch over, and inspect the interior for carvings, of which I’ve heard the site has some good examples. I draw a blank before Ellen calls me from the outside of the monument, where she has found the carvings on the slabs at the back of the monument. There we observe the famous ‘breast’ carvings (a very French interpretation I’m sure!) which are like cup marks in reverse, four stand out clearly, with the remains of a further four visible on a separate slab, though now slightly diminished, as apparently they were smashed off in 1961.
The site reminds me a Dutch hunebedd, looking similar in layout with somewhat rounded stones resting on low orthostats. Nearby a subtly positioned multi-lingual information board is attached to a rock, and another nearby rock sports a somewhat whimsical picture of a fairy, and is also the best place to get a photo of the whole length of the allee couverte.
The Maison des Fees is a beautiful and magical place to be, especially at this time of year, and we spend some time here as people come and go, and even take the example of the French by foraging some sweet chestnuts, dropped by one of the sheltering trees, to take home and roast in the log burning stove.
My first ever allee-couverte! And I wasn't disappointed at all. Hidden away in the forest this was much longer than I expected and much squarer inside. On some of the stones in the terminal cell some little raised knobbly bits have been carved in lines. These are quite common around these parts. Someone somewhere considers these to represent pairs of breasts, but frankly I'm not convinced. Not a bit!
Aubrey Burl, in Megalithic Brittany says: "legend has it that fairies lived in the tomb's ruins. When their cow trampled on some crops they compensated the farmer with a magic loaf, saying it would never grow less or harden s long as he kept his promise. Forgetting his promise the farmer boasted of his prize one day and the loaf instantly became as hard as brick."