Well vacations à la French are coming to an end rather quickly and today has been a cloudy light rainy day ,just time for a ride into Vannes. However, last Monday we were in Fougéres, a wonderful town that speaks of the Bounty of opportunities to visit here if only one has the time. We go by it always on our way to Paris and really never experience other than for an occassional pit stop for a quick bite. This time after spending most of the vacation in the basque country we decided this last week to give a try up close and personal;and it was a dandy.
First,their tourist office is in English here with a good map of the town and points of attractions; http://www.ot-fougeres.fr/accueil/decouverte_de_fougeres_et_son_pays/carte_de_fougeres
Then we arrive by car of course, on the A84 road that connect Rennes to Caen exit 29 we got to Fougéres and came upon the castle and the free parking at parking du château on your left , there is another one the parking de la Poterne just behind the castle and to your right as you come into the city. The Castle is the first thing you see, and even thus we left it for last working ourselves backward from the high town to it.
You past the wonderful Church of Saint Sulpice, at the street, Enclos Etienne de Fougères, founded in the 11C at the foot of the castle. Taking a quotes from the tourist office who always explained it better, this is the take, rebuilt in the 15C and 16C in a flamboyant Gothic style, completed for the choir in the 18C, St Sulpice church is one of the richest in Brittany. Inside, you will discover the nave preening hull overturned boat, the choir in style rocaille of 18C woodwork Louis XV, the medieval altarpieces in granite, the stained glass of the 16C, works by the master glassmaker fougerais Pierre Symon. On the left of the nave, the altarpiece dedicated to Notre Dame des Marais is one of the rare medieval altarpieces in granite kept in Brittany, with one of the tanners lying in the mortuary chapel. Outside, the sculptures strike by the imagination of their inspiration. You will find the so-called Gargoyle “the satyr” and the sculpture of the fairy Melusine above the South door of the Church.
We follow that up with the Church of Saint Léonard, Founded in the 12C, rebuilt in the 15C and 16C, the Church was disoriented and enlarged in the 19C and with a portal and a rosette of six meters in diameter from flamboyant Gothic style. Outside, admire the North facade with balusters and strange gargoyles. The South chapel contains the oldest stained glass (12C) of Brittany and which comes from the Abbey of Saint-Denis near Paris and the assumption an array of Achille Dévéria in 1835. The North Chapel holds an array of Eugène Dévéria (19C). Deveria brothers were friends of Victor Hugo.During the high season, visitors have access to the Bell Tower of the Church where they discover an incredible panorama on ferns, its monuments and the surrounding countryside. The mortuary chapel of the Church houses the oldest stained-glass window preserved in Brittany: the medallion of St. Benedict. Donated by a parishioner after the Revolution, he comes from the Abbey of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) and illustrates the history of Saint-Benoît. Left of stained glass, he returned to the monastery where the Abbot hands him his coat of monk; right, a priest visits him. Above, a Jerusalem cross fragment, incomplete, recalls that a jacket was placed under the feet of the donkey. Wonderful indeed.
You come to see the Beffroi or Belfry of the city, off rue Nationale; Symbol of the wealth of trade with distant regions, the first belfry of Britain was erected by the Burghers of the city in 1397. Its architecture is inspired by the Flemish models the Drapers of ferns were discovered during their travels in Flanders. Engraved on the Bell is the inscription: ‘in 1397 the bourges of ferns made me and call me Roland Chapelle ‘. You past by the nice homes of the Place du Marchix where the maison de Savigny is the oldest in the city, 14c/15C. You can see the muséums such as the Emmanuel dela Villéon, housed in the last wooden house of the 17C in town with about 30 portraits of the artist, born in Fougéres in 1858 and one of the last impressionist painters. He painted Brittany but also love to travel and painted his destinations. Also, the small but educational Museum of the Watch or musée de l’Horlogerie at 37 rue Nationale as well, here it is http://www.ot-fougeres.fr/welcome/things_to_discover_in_fougeres_and_its_surroundings/fougeres_town_map/clock_and_making_workshop_museum
We moved on to walk its wandering street , see the petit train work,and the wonderful Théatre Victor Hugo. We very much enjoy the market or marché, lots of folks full, and goodies like those cheeses we got from maison hautbois stand their home base in the Manche (50) here http://www.specialiste-fromage.fr/plan
We went up the jardin public or public garden, this is probably not mentioned much but for us it was great, climbing to the top of the hill to see the city ,valleys and wonderful statues and streams passing by it, you go up to the haute ville to connect with Church of Saint Leonard here too passing by the Hôtel de Ville. Here is more of it, http://www.ot-fougeres.fr/welcome/things_to_discover_in_fougeres_and_its_surroundings/fougeres_town_map/the_public_garden
Other than the market we stop for sandwiches at one our favorite store in any town La Mie Caline bakery, we got our burger sandwich, caramel chocolate cake, and Orangina soda for 6,20€ , along with the cheese and more bread we had our lunch. We ate at a bench behind the place des fusillés, the shop is here, http://fougeres.lamiecaline.com/fr/
We were now ready to visit the Castle of Fougéres. This is a huge fortified castle, the largest in Europe!! it is impressive. We walked all around it, and then got in by the rue de la Pinterie, This is the official site in English, http://www.chateau-fougeres.com/en.html
Dates are May;June, September 10-19h except Mondays ,july and august 10-19h all days, October to April 10-12h and 14-17h30, except Mondays.Closed Jan 1, May 1, as well as the annual closing in month of January. Admission is 8€ adults there is a family rate of 20€, children Under 6 are free. There is a bookstore that also serves as the ticket counter . audioguides are available as well as a children trail with Mélusin and Mélusa characters and puzzle books.
You go by this boutique store for the tickets then continue into the St Hilaire tower, into the enceinte or central square of the castle where you can look up all the towers such as Guédameuc, Coigny, Guilbé, Gobelins,Poterne,Mélusine, Surienne, Raoul,Cadran to come back out again. Between the Poterne and Gobelins towers you can see the old ruins of the keep with traces of the original wooden castle from 1166AD. Inside the most interesting towers are Mélusine, showing how the castle was built, Surienne, life in the castle, and Raoul, the power of Brittany with coronation of the Duke Francis II.
As we left the city, we encountered two characters one in a huge statue by rue Rallier (can be seen from rue Nationale) of Général de La Riboisière, Jean-Ambroise Baston the Riboisiere was born on 18 August 1759, in Fougères. He was classmate of Napoléon Bonaparte at the artillery School of la Fère, general and baron d’Empire, inspector-general of artillery, and played a decisive role with his guns at Austerlitz, Wagram, Eylau, Danzig, Lena, Smolensk and Borodino, where one of his sons was killed. Shortly after died in Königsberg, Prussia, the General was buried at les Invalides. But his heart rests at the Monthorin Castle in Louvigné du désert. The statue of the General found back in 1999 the place he had left in 1942.
Another one, very interesting for me was of Marquis de la Rouërie, Armand Tuffin. Born at Fougères, in 1751, Armand Tuffin de la Roûerie is covered with glory in America under the name of Colonel Armand, during the war of independence. He remains a friend of Gen. Washington. Back in Paris, he was the ardent defender of Breton privileges. At Saint-Ouen-la-Rouërie, shortly before 1789, he founded the Breton Association who in 1791-1792 prepares an insurrection against the French revolutionary movement. Betrayed by one of his friends, hunted, he died of exhaustion in the castle of Guyomar (côte d’Armor dept 22) on January 30, 1793. He will be beheaded post-mortem. RIP.
It was a nice stop and one that will bring me back with the family again;hope you enjoy it and the photos. Cheers.