The Fayettes (“little fairies”) live in the Forez region in France, today around the Loire basin. They are believed to be the descendants of the Greek nymphs, having escaped the advance of Christianity in the Mediterranean.
In France they are much tinier versions of their former selves, but their magical powers are undiminished. They guard the caves and forests, and can be seen dancing in the woods of Couroux, in the Beaujolais. Like any self-respecting fairy, they like to abduct children and leave insatiable changelings behind. Those fairy children are best brought to the mouth of a cave and threatened with violence, causing the fayette to return the stolen child. Te, vequio le tio, rends me le mio (“There, here’s yours, return mine”).
During the night, the fayettes do their laundry under the moon. Travellers in the woods are advised to sing at the top of their lungs to make sure they’re not mistaken for threats. At daybreak the fairies dissipate like fog, sometimes leaving behind solid gold washboards that would make anyone’s fortune.
During the day the fayettes take the form of moles, and take pleasure in ravaging gardens. This is why moles have pretty little pink hands.
Proth, M. (1868) Au Pays de l’Astrée. Librairie Internationale, Paris.
Sébillot, P. (1904) Le Folk-Lore de France, Tome Premier: Le Ciel et la Terre. Librairie Orientale et Américaine, Paris.