For centuries, nothing much happened in Pont-Saint-Esprit, a sleepy village in southern France. Perched on the banks of the River Rhone, people lived there much as they had done since Medieval times.
Indeed, throughout the great dramas of the past 100 years, peasant farmers toiled in the fields while housewives browsed for cheeses, bread and other local produce at the village market.
But then, one rainy Saturday in August 1951, life imploded for the good people of Pont-Saint-Esprit. That was the day that insanity came to call – bringing bedlam, bloodshed and worldwide infamy with it.
Without warning, local people – young and old, male and female – went mad. En masse.