Set out today to visit some of the neighbourhood castles. A map of the region allowed us to make up a circuit of five castles within 50 kilometers and a Menhir to round them out. We started out with the farthest: the Chateau de Fougeres. One of the largest Medieval castles in France, it was begun about 1000 AD by the Duc de Bretagne as part of a chain of fortresses to defend the region. Located anomalously in a valley on a meander of the river Nancon, it was positioned on a rocky crag and amply supplied with water. Built of wood initially, it was ironically burned down by Henry II of England in 1166. One hundred years after William of Normandy had invaded England, they returned the favour. We were lucky enough to hit it on the one weekend a year when it was opened free to the public as part of the Celebration de Patrimoine. While in Fougeres we took the opportunity to drop into the charming little Norman church of Saint-Sulpice in front of the castle. A gem; dour on the outside, glorious within.
Paul loves fortresses. Emboldened by our first success, we pressed on to the Chateau de Bonne Fontaine. Privately owned, it was closed for lunch when we arrived, Patrimoine notwithstanding, so we took pictures and left for the Chateau de la Balue. Also private and more like a XVIIth century manor house, we took a pass. The entrance fee was reduced for the weekend, but after Versailles, houses aren't that exciting.
This brought us to lunch which we chose to have at a delightful little restaurant in Bazouges la Perouse (really!http://www.map-france.com/Bazouges-la-Perouse-35560/ ). Then it was on to Combourg for their medieval fortress. Begun in the 1100s, it was extensively modified and reinforced over the next two hundred years, it now has an extensive grounds, including an "English" garden which seems to be comprised of lawns and trees. Once owned by the family of the author Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand, it is considered the birthplace of romanticism in French literature. And possibly the home of a great beef dish by the same name. No photos allowed inside of course.
Castled-out, we decided to skip Chateau de la Bourbonsais and make directly for the Menhir. Mable led us patiently through a series of secondary, tertiary and quaternary roads until we found it. A massive solid boulder erected by prehistoric Celts, it is huge and mysterious. Heading for home from there, Mable led us onto quinquinary roads, culminating in a dead-end goat-track in a cornfield. No thanks. We headed north until we hit a major highway, rebooted Mable and drove serenely home in time for some Camembert, biscottes and a nice patisserie.
Houses in Fougeres
Main entrance to walled town.
Four independent waterwheels working the mill
Fortress gate inside walled town
Eastern side of the fortress
Baptismal font, Saint Sulpice
Chateau de Bonne Fontaine
Entrance to Chateau de la Balue
Chateau de Combourg
On the ramparts of Chateaubriand's castle
Menhir de Champ Dolent