During the many trips and vacations of my life, I have slept in a variety of hotels ranging from fairly fancy to downright dingy. I’m quite certain, though, that I have never stayed overnight in a hotel that totally disappeared as if it had never existed at all!
In October of 1979, two married couples were driving through France to vacation in Spain. Geoff and Pauline Simpson and Len and Cynthia Gisby decided to find a place to stay for the night near Montelimar, France. The Ibis Motel was full, and they were told that they might be able to find a room down the road.
The road they followed was narrow and made of cobblestones. They passed buildings, and signs advertising a circus, all of which looked oddly old-fashioned. Soon they came to a long stone building of two storeys facing the road. Upon entering the building, the couples found themselves in a large room that appeared to be a bar. The proprietor did not speak English, but was able to communicate that there were rooms available.
The Simpsons and the Gisbys found their rooms to be clean, although very outmoded. The furniture was made of heavy wood, the windows were merely shutters, there were only wooden catches for locks on the doors, the bed sheets were made of calico, there were bolsters with no pillows, the plumbing was antique, and there were no telephones or elevators in the building.
After an evening meal of steak, eggs, fries, and beer, they went to bed satiated and thankful to have found a place to sleep for the night.
At breakfast in the dining room the next morning, three very odd individuals entered the hotel: a woman wearing a long dress and button-boots and carrying a little dog; and, two french policemen in uniforms later discovered to be the styles worn before 1905! Additionally, when Geoff and Len asked the officers about the best autoroute to take, the policemen didn’t appear to know the word “autoroute” and directed them to an old road miles out of the way.
When paying the bill upon leaving, it was about 1/13th as much as the going hotel rate at that time. Len believed there must be a mistake, but the manager would take no more cash.
Two weeks later, on their return trip from vacationing in Spain, the couples hoped to stay in the same hotel near Montelimar. They turned off the road at the same point, saw the circus signs that they had seen before, but the hotel was no longer there.
After returning home and developing their vacation rolls of film, they discovered that the pictures they had taken at the hotel were missing...from the middle of the roll! The serial numbers of the frames were consecutive, and there were no blanks in the film.
In 1983, the couples returned to the Montelimar area to search for the hotel. A similar place was found, but the Gisbys and the Simpsons were convinced that it was not the one at which they had stayed overnight in 1979.
Geoff Simpson allowed himself to be hypnotized in 1985 by a psychiatrist to see if there were any other memories in his subconscious about the event, but was unable to add anything new to the experience.
There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding this occurrence. British writer and investigator, Jenny Randles, checked into this event and wonders, if this was some kind of time-slip as some believe, why did the manager accept their modern cash as payment? Why did no one at the hotel seem surprised by their clothing or vehicle? The Simpsons and Gisbys had no answers to those questions. They “only know what happened.”
Berlitz, Charles. World of Strange Phenomena. Wynwood Press. 1988.
Fairley, John and Welfare, Simon. Arthur C. Clarke’s Chronicles of The Strange and Mysterious.
London: Guild Publishing. 1987.