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Plage Noire

– the legend of the black colored sands –

If you have the pleasure of being invited by an old Schleswig-Holstein family to an evening filled with a crackling fireplace, with beer, and some double grain, it might happen that the eldest family member may tell a story that their great great great - grandmother already used to tell. When the chimney fire has already burnt down, and the good room is bathed only by the glow of the embers in dimmed light, it is not unlikely to hear of the legend of the black beach...

The story mentions hauntings, inexplicable phenomena, and tells of a spirit whose soul always returns to the Weissenhäuser Beach. No one knows exactly when it happens, but at most once a year, at night, they say that the sand of the Weissenhäuser beach turns black. On these nights, many of the undiscerning night wanderers swear faithfully that they saw a young woman in a white dress on the salt meadows. The lantern in her hand plunges her into a dim light, although she herself is not swallowed by the darkness. Only a small inattentiveness, only the blink of a lash is enough, and she disappears as if she had never been there and only the roar of the dark sea remains.

Some say it's a curse. Others, that the lady in white protects the cattle and the surrounding settlements. But the elders, in turn, even surmise to know her name. The story they tell is of the young Isabelle LeFavre, a maid of a good and wealthy home, whose merchant family settled down in the late 16th century on the Weissenhäuser beach. Isabelle fell in love with a simple fisherman from a nearby fishing village, and soon the young couple got engaged. But happiness was not meant to last for long in their young and tender love. It was the time of the Great Northern War, and as everyone knows, war is bad for business.

Soon the family fortune was gone, her father and mother died of age and frailty, their workforce disappeared, and Isabelle and her lover lived in the large white house alone while the dust began to settle on the sparse furniture of many unused rooms. War is full of times of deprivation, and fishing was scarcely able to feed Isabelle and her husband. Often the only thing that filled their stomachs was their love, while around them the color peeled from the walls and the wind whistled through thousands of tears in the windows of the house.

The fisherman could no longer sit and watch his frail wife starve, and so he took a decision which many fishermen and sailors at that time made as cold and hunger threatened their very existence: he became a pirate. Initially, his gang only lured supply ships to the treacherous cliffs by lighting false beacons, but soon they were forced to seize ships on the high seas on captured schooners. And Isabelle remained alone in the house waiting and hoping. Every time her husband went on a pillage trip for weeks, Isabelle looked out onto the sea. Whenever her husband went on his robberies, she always said the same thing to him: that she only wanted him to return to her. Her husband swore by the sand of the beach that he would return, sealing his promise with a black pearl in his hands.

But one stormy autumn Isabelle waited in vain. Weeks and months went by without a black sail appearing on the horizon. Day by day she stood by the dyke, sparsely clothed despite the wind and weather, and peered out at the troubled sea. At night, you could see the shimmering light of a lantern on the top of the overseas bridge. She didn’t seem to mind the snow and sleet when she wandered through marshes in winter, her eyes always focused on the gray horizon. The last person who saw a sign of life of Isabelle LeFavre was the dyke reeve. He saw the light of her lantern on one of his tours in the rainy dusk of spring, while he was standing at the highest point of the overseas bridge it suddenly went out.

No one has ever seen Isabelle LeFavre alive again. But soon there was talk of the woman in white that appeared on the black colored sands of the beach once a year. She wanders through the marshes, a lantern in her hand. The last time that the lady in white was seen was in 2009. Since then, the legend around the mysterious lady Isabelle LeFavre has been dormant. But when is the Weissenhäuser beach going to turn black the next time?