In the forest there is a small stone cross, and I was curious about why it was there and the inscription upon it. Fouteau de Poulailler. I discovered this week in one of my library books a little more about this cross.
Raillier a republican historian of the revolutionary period, wrote that in pagan times if an inhabitant of the countryside had a fever one of their close relations or friends would go to the fouteau (beech tree) make a prayer, engrave the figure of a cross on the bark of the fouteau and dig a small hole in between the roots where they would leave an egg or a coin.
The effect of this pious deed was the healing of the sick. It is said that beggars came from time to time to look for the offerings but it was fruitless.
The historian noted that that the superstitious practice described did not entirely go out of fashion.
The Church in a way restored the pagan ritual by erecting a cross at the Fouteau Pouillailer, then in 1937 a granite cross replaced the wooden one.
Link showing hêtre or fouteau.
So who took the money and eggs?
Fouteau Pouillailer = Beech tree henhouse, sounds like one of Tina Turners songs!
The French word for beggar is mendiant
The French word to dig a small hole is creuser.