Lake Saint-Andéol, a glacial lake, sacred since the dawn of time, already mentioned as a pagan site in the 6th century by Gregory of Tours, is a high altitude water reservoir that has naturally developed, little by little, in the remains of a very old volcano crater of the Aubrac plateau.
Saint Gregory of Tours (539-594), in his "Ecclesiastical History of the Franks" said that, "since time immemorial, gathered on the banks, every year, the second Sunday of July, between 4,000 and 5,000 people, to worship the god of water, to bathe, feast and throw into the lake edible food, fodder, fleeces of sheep, copper coins, silver and gold ... "
In the 3rd century, Saint Andéol, apostle of Vivarais, came to the place to try to stop these pagan practices.
He built then, at approximately 1 500 m in the East of the lake, a chapel dedicated to Saint-Hilaire de Poitiers.
The ruins are about 100 meters north of the buron de Saint-Andéol. Every year, the priests and the faithful of Marchastel would go in procession to the chapel on the second Sunday of July, which has remained the day of the town's festival. The apostle of the Vivarais had given his name to the lake, but the pagan meetings continued until 1867. On that date, in a brawl, a gendarme was killed.
The fear of the authorities suppressed these festivities.
Until the 19th century, precious offerings were thrown in and archaeologists have always dreamed of what they could discover in the vases of this reservoir, which was never cleaned.
There was even talk, under the reign of Louis XIV, of drying out the lake to excavate it.
Until recently, on the second Sunday of July, people still went in procession to the lake of Saint-Andéol to obtain a cure for ulcers, rheumatism, scabies and strangles.
People would walk around the lake singing the litanies of the saints and various prayers, before immersing themselves in the waters of the lake.
In the course of a few centuries, the lake has dropped in level and its ancient banks are thus potential research sites.
A little further on, where a cross stands, the traces of an ancient temple have been recognized...
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator