Treasure Hunters Flock to Sleepy French Town

But Rennes-le-Chateau locals think they're 'pitiable'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2010 12:37 PM CDT
The tower at Rennes-le-Chateau.   (AP)

(Newser) – No treasure has ever been found in Rennes-le-Chateau. But Remy Martinez is convinced it’s there. He believes, he tells the LA Times, that Visigoths hid vast wealth under the tiny French town, in an underground labyrinth that also contains an ancient Jewish temple and the body of Jesus Christ (hidden there by the Knights Templar, naturally). And he’s not alone. Treasure hunters routinely flock to the village, whose 100 residents receive some 150,000 visitors a year—it even has a sign out front reading “Digging is forbidden.”

The legend began at the end of the 19th century, when local priest Francois Berenger Sauniere suddenly built elaborate gardens, a new villa, and a neo-Gothic tower. How he paid for them on his meager salary was a mystery; legend had it, he'd found treasure. Romantic novelists over the years layered on explanations rooted in the area’s history—complete with Visigoths and such. “Rennes-le-Chateau is a sticky myth, like flypaper. It attracts everything,” says a local bookstore owner, who calls the treasure hunters deluded and “sometimes pitiable.” (Read more treasure stories.)

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