Philippe de Chérisey and the origin of
The French website of Johan Netchacovitch contains scans of important correspondence by Philippe de Chérisey provided by Valérien Ariès giving interesting information relating to the origin of Gérard de Sède's 1967 book, L'Or de Rennes and to Philippe de Chérisey's novel Circuit, deposited in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris on 28 June 1971.
I was at Plantard's place all yesterday. The book will be extraordinary: no one will ever have read anything like it. I can't wait to place it at his feet. (23 January 1965)
No news either of the book or of Plantard. This is annoying me somewhat as it makes me feel that I have, as it were, left behind me in Paris a worksite that still needs a foreman to supervise it.(27 March 1965)
Ten days away - well, in the end, eleven days - and now I'm back. I will certainly (but don't tell anyone) be leaving with Plantard for four days in the Pyrenees to see if the Magdalen will let me get any closer to her. Following that - now the book is finished - there have been some new discoveries that need verifying.(2 April 1965)
I've received a letter from Plantard: the book is still being proofread. Ars longa, vita brevis - and the two are hard to reconcile. If you're leaving on Friday - please provide my jealousy with a more substantial foundation - then I will try to make sure that I also leave with Plantard ... (5 April 1965)
[Webmaster's Notes : Plantard and de Chérisey left for Rennes-le-Château on 9 April 1965, stayed there for four days, before returning to Paris on the morning of Tuesday April 13.]
P.S. Saint Mary Magdalen was brought to France at a very early date. Very old traditions, more or less legendary in character, describe a pilgrimage to her sepulchre. When the 'infidels' arrived she was removed from her alabaster sepulchre and put into a marble one for protection. She has never been found since. Some allege that she is in a grotto on the mountain-side, close to a highway, and they have even given us the dimensions of the grotto concerned: 29 metres x 24 x 4. 'Good King René' d'Anjou organized excavations in Provence in 1448, but there is no evidence that they actually led to anything. There cannot be any confusion about which Magdalen is meant, as only two saints have borne this name (and the second one is out of the question, as she lived in the 17th century and in religion bears the name of Catherine), so it must be the same Mary Magdalen who sprinkled Christ with amber perfume and wept at the Calvary. It's said that she had very beautiful hair which she used to attract men during her life as a prostitute and a cloak to cover her nakedness when she was taken into a cave. What do you think of me going to Rennes-le-Château? Please pray for me. If I am successful in my quest then I will not be entitled to talk about it. (6 November 1964)
I hope you won't mind if I send you, one fine day, a rather well-stuffed file that I've compiled here to go with the one in the cupboard at ... rue Saint-Lazare. In fact, I would like to return to you the whole stack of literary material currently at rue Saint-Lazare, along with the file in the little wooden case which, I think, is at ... rue ...., but I may be mistaken.
Can you also tell Plantard that I have been finding out something about the organization in Liège that will be publishing his book on the governments of France. It's a non-profit organization, and we don't know much about who the financial backers are. In principle it's an economic research society of a very France-worshipping bent. Every fortnight or thereabouts there's a meeting to hear a foreign speaker. Women are not admitted to the meetings, which are held at 13 Avenue Rogier in Liège. I am given to understand that the director of Radio Liège (whose wife I've been out with) was a member of it. In the hope of overhearing someone talking about it I accepted a dinner invitation from a group attached to the local Rotary because the president of the economic study group was supposed to be attending, but the bloke didn't turn up. That's all I know, which is not much admittedly, but undoubtedly the old devil Pierre knows much more. (1964)
Scans from Philippe de Chérisey's document entitled Le méridien zéro : Une aventure de Dédé la Pendule, being the original version of Circuit, are provided here :
The following extract from The Zero Meridian is interesting:
XVI. MALMSEY WINE
Julliard have recently published a book by Gérard de Sède about a treasure hunt in the communes of Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains (in the Aude). A parish priest, Abbé Saunière, is alleged have led a billionaire lifestyle but to have died penniless in 1917. As the French Zero Meridian passes exactly through the territory of Rennes-les-Bains, this story cannot be dismissed out of hand, even if we must agree with the Bishop of Carcassonne that the likeliest explanation for Abbé Saunière's huge income is that he trafficked in masses through the medium of a children's magazine called "La Semaine de Lisette" ("Lisette's Weekly"), or are willing to concede that he defrauded the Red Cross during the First World War or that he worked as a pander.
General David Leroy, who I met in Las Palmas, was very interested in the work of Gérard de Sède because, as a boy of ten, he'd spent a couple of months on holiday down at Saunière's. One detail in particular had stuck in his mind: although Saunière lived in the Corbières, a wine-growing region par excellence, he never drank anything other than Malmsey, which he ordered specially from the Canary Islands. Since the Zero Meridian passed through the Canary Islands before Louis XIV moved it to Paris, General Leroy wondered whether Saunière's fabulous fortune - instead of originating in his own part of the world, as today's treasure hunters believe - was not more likely to be found in the wells of Termigiragne on Ferro [the smallest and most westerly of the Canaries], which nestles up against the original Zero Meridian. This would certainly explain the many trips abroad that Saunière made without telling anyone where he was going.
I discouraged the General from pursuing this reverie and instead encouraged him to take an interest in the Malmsey wine aspect. In a subsequent letter he told me about a strange connection: apparently the vines grown in Corbières are actually derived from Malmsey vines, so Saunière was not in fact being disloyal to his native Languedoc by importing his wine from the Canaries but, on the contrary, could claim that he was simply going back to its origins. But the General's theory is just a little too convenient not to arouse my suspicions: the General's financial problems and the boredom he endured during his retirement were, I think, the real factors that made him want to start searching for buried treasure in the Canary Islands.
(Traduction by Paul Smith)