Mystery of French forest transformed into a gnome village

A growing gnome colony in north-west France which suddenly sprang up is now home to hundreds of whimsical characters, attracting curious tourists keen on uncovering its enigmatic beginnings

There are now about 200 inhabitants in the Eure gnome village
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Up to 200 garden gnomes now live in a forest in north-west France, three years after the first figurine was spotted there - and their numbers keep growing.

The lawn ornaments occupy an area of woodland near Conches-en-Ouche (Eure), ranging in style from Disney characters to Smurfs to traditional garden gnomes.

The first gnome, named Souriceau, appeared in 2021. Since then, visitors to the forest have brought gnomes to join him, gradually transforming a tiny hamlet into a well-populated village. 

Mystery location

Alexa Klotchkoff, manager of the Pays de Conches tourist office, told The Connexion that the exact location of the gnome colony remains “a bit of a secret – you must look for it to find it”.

No one knows how the first gnome arrived, but the idea of bringing companion figurines gained traction after being posted to Facebook.

“The idea is that the village keeps growing. When people visit it, they do not come empty-handed but bring a gnome or a piece of decoration. We hope it will go on for a long time,” said Ms Klotchkoff. 

Now, a sign welcomes visitors to the ‘village’, which is decorated with mushrooms, has its own letterbox, and boasts various shelters and wig-wams for gnomes to huddle under when it rains. 

Despite regularly featuring in the media, some local residents are still unaware of its existence. 

Read more: Mystery of the box filled with jewels found near Chamonix

When Ms Klotchkoff showed a journalist the village last December, a mountain biker, who regularly cycles nearby, interrupted the interview to express his surprise at seeing the gnomes for the very first time.

Paradise found

The Front de libération des nains de jardin (Garden Gnome Liberation Front), a non-profit association intent on returning garden gnomes to the wild, has hailed the settlement “a proper, expanding paradise for garden gnomes”.

Launched in 1996, its official website maintains: “Garden gnomes have a soul, it is undeniable, but they are forced into slavery by merciless humans.”

Members have often ‘relocated’ gnomes from people’s gardens to nearby forests, sometimes leaving behind a letter detailing where they left the figurine. 

However, no link has been made between the FLNJ and the gnome village in Eure.