Long ago, the brave knight Béranger hailing from a valley nestled in the French Alps, was on his journey home after a victorious battle in Brittany. During his travels Béranger met an intelligent, beautiful, and charming lady from Poitou named Mélusine. She grew to love Béranger as he turned out to be as gentle and caring as he was brave. The two romantics were wed that spring in Poitou and Mélusine gladly began her move to Sassenage, the location of Béranger’s large castle and estate.
While everything about these newlyweds appeared to be perfectly ordinary, Mélusine had only become adept at hiding a part of herself from the rest of the world. She was a siren fairy. While bathing, a tail would replace her legs. Mélusine was a sight to behold in the water; her hair glowed, her eyes brightened, her voice sang clear and strong, and her tail was a scintillating aqua blue marvel.
As soon as she stepped out of the water Mélusine would go back to being human, but if ever anyone were to behold her in siren form, she would be cursed to remain a siren forever. Mélusine had been considering a permanent siren identity to be a desirable option as she had recently experienced a series of underwhelming and disappointing suitors. Believing she would never find a man as kind, strong, and hard working as Béranger she soon changed her mind upon getting to know him. Mélusine now feared the possibility that he would discover her secret. Thankfully, the customs of the time made it easy for Mélusine to continue to hide her alternate identity from her beloved Béranger. Even married men and women rarely witnessed each other bathing.
As the couple traveled from Poitou in western France to Sassenage in eastern France, spring turned to summer, and they arrived at Béranger’s estate during the hottest time of the year. Béranger went right to work helping his hired hands and extended family care for the large estate and ready it for a fall harvest while Mélusine settled in and explored her new surroundings.
The majestic mountains of the Vercors surrounding Sassenage were full of caves containing refreshing springs. One day as Mélusine was trying to escape the heat, she slipped into one of these caves and noticed the inviting waters beckoning her to take a dip. She assumed her siren form and began singing for she was immeasurably happy in her new life and enjoying her bath.
Béranger working in a nearby field heard his wife’s lovely voice echoing through the mountains and into the valley. He decided to take a rest from his labors to pay her a surprise visit and followed the sound of the singing. Neither of the two fully understood what was happening as Béranger entered the cave and his eyes fell first upon his wife’s clothes, then her bathing, and finally the siren’s tail. He cried out her name in shock and she turned around with tears in her eyes, for she now realized her fate was sealed.
Mélusine told Béranger she loved him but that she was now consigned to a life in the caves’ springs. The two embraced and wept, Béranger collected Mélusine’s tears which were now small stones that she claimed could heal maladies of the eyes and he left the cave too painful to return to. He engraved her image, a beautiful siren, on the stones of his castle.
Sirens are immortal, so while Béranger eventually passed away Mélusine lives on. The network of caves and springs are complex and Mélusine has become good at hiding, much the way she hid her fateful secret from Béranger. The sound of her cries for him are impressive and terrifying as they whistle through the mountains and valleys. Some think it is the wind, but you can still find small, clear stones in the caves of Sassenage which some have said can heal the eyes.