Les Disparus de Bas-Vourlans

At the Bottom of the Lake


Producers who will transform sounds into images. This podcast is highly visual. Close your eyes and you will see the mountains, the crows, the dam, the old anonymous letters, the church emerging from the lake and the skeletons chained in the mud. Now, it is time to see all of this without having to close your eyes.


August 2019, Haut-Vourlans, Jura, Eastern France. 37°C in the shade. Three months without a single raindrop. The locals have never known such dry weather. The Lake of Clairlieu is dangerously drying up under the effect of the heatwave… The old village of Bas-Vourlans emerges from the depths of the lake, 45 years after it was flooded by the dam. And in the wet and muddy ruins of the village, there are two skeletons chained to a house. 

Who are they ? What are they doing there ? Why do the elders of the village remain so silent ? And why do sinister anonymous letters make their comeback, just like 45 years before ? 

André Rose is the new priest of Haut-Vourlans. Bérénice and Titouan are two teenagers of the village. They will need all their courage to solve this cold case, to disentangle the truth from local legends and to bring back to the surface secrets that have been drowned in the waters of the lake for far too long.


December 2018, at the real dam of Vouglans, in Jura. The summer was dry. Autumn too. The artificial lake was dry and the hamlet of Brillat emerged from the past, 50 years after it was flooded. And at the bottom of the ruins, they found nothing but a bucket… So they gave the bucket back to its owner, moved to tears. The story is nice. But what if the drought brought up something sexier than a bucket ? 

Somewhere in a parallel Jura, the village of Haut-Vourlans lives above its ghosts : the old village of Bas-Vourlans was flooded by a dam in 1974. And in 2019, 45 years later, the village discovers two skeletons chained to a house at the bottom of the lake. There were two murders when they left Bas-Vourlans… 

Les Disparus de Bas-Vourlans is a thriller and I wanted it to be the kind of thriller I love : the mystery must not be revealed before the very end ; clues must be revealed without being directly understood by listeners ; and the most sinister settings make the best stories. 

I was inspired by movies, series and novels so that the series can be very visual… The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Shutter Island for the resolution of the mystery at the very end ; the series Les Revenants for the stifling atmosphere of the village ; Clouzot’s Le Corbeau and the true story of “le Petit Grégory”, the most famous crime in France : two stories of anonymous letters, and two exemples of how a close environment can degenerate from jealousy to murders… 

Les Disparus de Bas-Vourlans is a story of trauma, of guilt and of vengeance. It questions how far we can go to defend our community. It shows how we cling to lies because they are more convenient than the truth. And it asks the next question : despite our efforts to hide our darkest past, can we escape it forever ? 

I am very proud of the success of this series, which is the first I wrote. It has been downloaded more than 800 000 times, it was nominated for the Prix Europa 2021. And I now want to write it for television. Haut-Vourlans is enclosed, silent and secretive but of all the codes of thrillers, this is the most important : the listeners have discovered the truth. Now, spectators too have the right to know. 

Romain Weber


Romain Weber
Action, Crime, Thriller

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