In the Champagne region of France, you can stroll through a forest of fairy trees, called the Faux de Verzy (pronounced foe de vair-zee).
A “fau” is an old gallic (French) word for the beech tree. It’s now called a hêtre in French, a word which originates from German.
A fau (or plural – faux) describes the dwarf beech, oak, and chestnut trees that are found in the forest of Verzy, as well as a few other forests in the world (i.e. the Lorraine region of France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark). But the faux in Verzy are the most stable, and there are over 1000 trees there.
Books from the Middle Ages talk about the Arbre des Dames, which meant “Fairies’ Tree”, but most people call them dwarf trees.
The forest also contains regular beech, oak and chestnut trees, so scientists can’t link the anomalies to the soil or the region. In fact, they can’t really explain the fau’s existence.
Books from the abbey of St Basile mention the faux as early as the 6th century, and most people credit the existence of the fairy trees to the monks. Legend states that monks brought the trees from Asia on one of their pilgrimages, and planted them in the forest. Others state that the tree came about from a hereditary pathogen. Only one in 10 of the trees that grow in the forest will become a fau.
And even then, the roots are so fragile, it’s difficult for the tree to survive the elements.
In Verzy, the faux are protected by walkways so people won’t unsuspectingly step on a baby fau.
The canopy of green hides an exquisite sculpture of branches
We were reminded of their frailty each time we saw a dead fau.
The Faux de Verzy are located near the city of Reims, which we visited as a family. (More on that city on Friday).
Definitely a kid-friendly location.
Who knows! With all the greenery –
you might even get a good picture or two!
No matter what, you’ll have fun.
* Information from the French and English wikipedias.