La Chene chapelle is an incredible historic tree house in France. In the tiny settlement of Allouville-Bellefosse stands the oldest Oak tree in France. It’s actually thought to be at least 1 thousand years old, but it’s known to be at least 800. Several hundred years ago, the tree was set on fire by a bolt of lightning. The fire burned through the inside of the tree, making it hollow. So the local villagers did what Europeans from that time did best! They turned to religion. The local religious leaders claimed the lightning bolt was a message from god, a divine act. The tree became some kind of holy shrine with Christians making pilgrimages there regularly. Over time it was devoted to the virgin Mary and a chapel was built inside the hollow tree. Over the next few centuries, a second chapel was built inside the tree, one above the other. The second chapel is known as the hermits room for some reason!
Today, the tree looks like a wizards tower from an 19th century fantasy novel because half of it is encased in metal. This is literally to hold the tree together. It’s hard to keep a 1 thousand year old tree standing. Not only are the chapels still active, but the tree house hosts catholic mass twice a year and is still a pilgrimage destination.
The whole tree was almost destroyed during the French revolutions. The revolutionaries were seriously done with all things religious, so they were just going to destroy all the chapels. An angry mob planned on burning Chene chapelle to the ground. Luckily, the tree was renamed by the locals in a fresh attempt to save it from destruction. They called it “the temple of reason” – as the revolutionaries were secular. This successfully saved the tree! Since then, the tree hasn’t seen much else. It’s just been operated as a peaceful church. There is some mystery associated with the tree. Legend tells it was planted by Joan Of Arc just before she was captured and killed by the English. But that’s just a legend.