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France’s oldest tree, alive since Louis IX, hides treehouse chapels within its trunk
These oak chapels aren’t your average tree houses—it’s not known exactly when they were built, but they’re estimated to be between 800 and 1200 years old! In the late 1600s, the tree survived a lightning fire that hollowed out the center. Interpreting this occurrence as a holy event, the local priest at the time called for the tree to be turned into a church. The tree was still growing under the kingdom of Louis IX, and it survived the Hundred Years War with the English, The Black Death, the Reformation, and the Revolution.
A staircase spirals around the thousand-year-old trunk. The tree is starting to show its age, and it now has internal and external poles supporting it. A sacred place of worship, the Oak Chapel is now a pilgrimage site that welcomes thousands of visitors each year.
Photos © Photo P. Biron
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