Archive for April 26th, 2014

April 26, 2014

Brocéaliande, a land of fairy tales and magic

Today was and is a rainy day, cool, like fall is back and spring passing away, nevertheless we were not scare by the weather men nor the dark clouds and headed out to meet our king Arthur and magical Merlin in Brocéliande , the region of fairy tales.

For tourism info the site is in French, but loaded ,  then there are some additional sites to complement such as the one for Guer-Coêtquidan at  ;and the area of pays du mauron, at

Since a boy, I always heard the wonderful stories of the magician Merlin, the Vivianne, and king Arthur and the round table. I have passed by the area several times on quick runs, and finally decided to visit this part of Brittany with the family. We headed out early on road N24 to link up at past Ploërmel with the road D724, direction Campénéac then the road D40 direction Paimpont, to go back and around the region from there.

The first town we stop was Campénéac, founded from Roman times, and birthplace of a great religious leader and movement that of Armélie Nicolas or the Bonne Armélie. Her skull head is kept at the town’s Church and the body at the Cathédrale de Vannes. You have nearby the tombs of the giants and the abbey of  la joie de Notre Dame . . As for the tombeau des géants, they are the Tomb, measuring nearly 4 m long and 1 m wide and 1 m in height. This tomb was built from 3 menhirs that stood in this place by 2200 BC. Today are visible walls and 3 menhir lying at 8 m. The Tomb as seen today dates from the Bronze age (about 1500 BC)Its name is probably due to its shape and its dimensions. There are marked by a panel just out of Campénéac from the road D312 to the D40. We decided to walk around a bit in the town and took an aim at the Church where a woooden carved devil holds the table of the priest in the altar, but it was closed.  Church of the Trinity of the most Holy Virgin or église de la Nativité de la Très Sainte-Vierge.

We continue on to Paimpont, we heard a lot of good about the town, but the abbey was Under renovation,and it is heavily tourist invaded, not really my cup of tea ,living here.  Again seen from the outside, the abbey of Paimpont is an impressive building.  There is some treasury visits in the summer months, but not for me. Built in the 13C, on the site of a Priory founded in 645 by Lacy, King of Dumnonia. Benedictine monastery originally, it was the 13C inhabited by canons until the Revolution. Medieval Gothic style (walls, openings, the baptistery and the chapel of St-Sacrement, the vault), the Abbey presents interior decoration (Chair, statue, altars and altarpieces) characteristic of the baroque style of the 17C. The sacristy contains the Treasury of the Abbey Church composed of a beautiful Christ in ivory (17C), a reliquary (15C) offered by the Duchess Margaret of Brittany, mother of Anne of Brittany, which would contain a radius of Saint Luke, a statue in polychrome wood (15C).  You can contact the tourist office in above link for Brocéaliande or call +33 (0) 2 99 07 83 20.

The town has a picturesque open air city center full of shops , amongst the unique ones are the grocery store Votre Marché at 4 rue général de gaulle , and the souvenirs for the memories at Au pays de merlin,  You can always stay at this quaint place right overlooking the abbey ,the relais de brocéaliande, on the rue des forges,

A bit further out of town, road D224 well marked, you arrive at an old foundaries place call Les Forges de Paimpont. Open from 14h to 18H cost of 6€ per person, you see a foundary site as it was in the middle ages, with a chapel, and now ok to reserve for events and marriages etc. It is a private property today. This is Worth stopping by indeed. I give the description from the site and I translate my best,  As early as 1675, Des Forges settled in the heart of the forest of Paimpont / Brocéliande. Forges in wood, they benefit from a good iron ore, and a hydraulic network set up by the monks from the middle age (7 ponds lead to the etang des Forges). Now, the 3 components of a forge are gathered here, the ore, wood and water (we talk about Forges but we could earlier talk of plant iron and cast iron).  In the 17C, the ironworks begin their activity through a furnace and a refinery. They are placed down the dike to draw hydraulic power generated by the flow of water from the pond. The used fuel is charcoal produced in the forest.  In the eighteenth century, Diderot and d’Alembert retain the refinery to illustrate “the encyclopedia”. The production was 500 tons of cast iron and 360 tons of iron. Des Forges ensure orders linked to the war of independence of the United States of America. The maison de Maître de Forges, as well as worker homes are built start 18C on a plan or map of the 17C.  In the 19C, during the reign of king Louis XVIII, the Forges must modernise; a State of the art made (which gave us a beautiful series of detailed plans visible at the National Archives in Paris). To follow: The construction of a second blast furnace wood, A mill equipped with ovens Puddler powered by coal from Earth or the Coke.  A foundry building equipped with the same technology as that of the rolling mill.  In 1850, we will be at the height of the production of iron and cast iron. (1500 tons of cast iron and 1000 tons of iron). 250 people will work for these Forges, 1/3 of the workforce is present in the Forges and 2/3 work in the forest to produce charcoal, remove and wash the ore. Wood and ore are brought at the Forges by carts pulled by horses. Competitive forces from foreign firms , especially English, made the furnaces  stop in 1866 and then resume activity for the war of 1870 to stop permanently in 1880. In the 20C, the Forges buy in the external market of cast iron and iron at lower cost to make agricultural tools, boilers and other equipment to furnished our Region. We can observe some products manufactured in these Forges (screw press, chimney plates, forged… nails) of slag (slag = rejection of the merger of iron ore) are visible in some masonry. This activity will stop in 1954.  Today, these Forges are registered on the supplementary list of Historic Monuments since 2001 (I.S.M.H.). A restoration program is committed with the assistance of the State, the Council régional de Bretagne, Conseil Général D’ille et Vilaine and the owner. more in French here

We continue passing by Beignon, and seeing the nice Church Saint Pierre, it is in the form of a Latin cross from ealry the 16C. You can admire beautiful classified stained-glass windows dating from the 16C  depicting the tree of Jesse and the life of St – Pierre and its pits carved frame. The North Gate is dated 1268 and an episcopal crest.

Near Guer, on the road D773 we stopped by the école militaire de Saint Cyr-Côetquidan, they started out by order of emperor Napoléon 1ér out of the Château de Fontainebleau,and then at Saint-Cyr in my old dept 78 Yvelines. The schools are in order since 1805. Inside the one at Guer there is a museum. It is a museum of memories or musée du Souvenir, of all the officers dead for France in all wars. Many statues objects,and uniforms, and outside many statues of heroes. Open from  February to December , Tuesdays to Sundays from 10h to 12h and 14h30 to 18h, admission is 4€ adult.  This one we will come back as it was lunch time when we arrive in the area and you know France … no time to retrace back to visit here, so will be back. You will need to provide identification and register at the front entrance before told where the museum is located ar Rue Rivoli Inside the camp, it is a defense ministry site,

Moving righth along on this wooded heavily forest area, we came back on the road D773 to St Malo de Beignon, where at the leisure lake base you have a minituare harbor! or Port Miniature,  from boats to rowing to coast guard boats all in small scales right on the lake.  it opens after 14h and Saturday, Sunday,and Holidays from march 30 to  May 31, and june 1 to june 30 14h to 19h30, wednesdays, Saturdays, sundays and holidays. july 1 to september 1, 13h to 20h every day except the Mondays. You get to ride all these miniatures boats,and there is picnic area around the lake very nice. They even allow camping here with 50 spots. and there is the Cap Vert  restaurant on site.  The town is very nice medieval and quaint narrow Streets in the old bishops place of the bishop of Saint Malo. more here in French,

We arrive at the wonderful town of Plélan le Grand, where we immediately sighted the Church.  The St. Peter’s church or église St Pierre was built from 1850 in a  place of a church from the 13C which survives that  of chapel of Sainte-Anne . North side, a tower dating from 1620 plays the role of Bell Tower. It has a wonderful calvary on the side, beautifully done. We walked this town up and down very lively , very friendly folks, we purchase our baguette for home here at  Michel Bellier boulangerie, pâtisserie on 53 Avenue de la Libération, the main road of the town.

And the highlight of the trip for us, was lunch time at Plélan le Grand. We heard of all the famous ones at the tourist office, but we went to a people place, down to earth and friendly folks , full, but so friendly, the owners do the the cooking and serving and it shows. Les Boucaniers or the Buccaneers restaurant not far from the Church on the main street of ave de la libération, and rue Nationale ,same road. Here we got the big table by the bar,as the back dining room was full. We were behind a door with a picture of Marilyn Monroe, figure it was the toilet or restroom but it was the stock room so all the good stuff was right behind us! The lady owner server was laughting with us all the way. They serve several servings of bread and butter, plenty of water, and good Grimbergen blonde beers. We had the house menu du jour, for an excellent 10,70€ per person. You have entrée buffet with cold cuts, terrines of paté campagne and mousse de  salmon, hard boiled eggs, pasta with shurimi shrimps, potato salad, just to start, then the main dish was hashi parmentier with pork and sausage meats, and bottom cut of steaks, with fries and salads greens, and for desserts, fondant de chocolat, and sorbet framboise and various fruits shunks; the beers we double it, so the total bill came to 16€ per person, a great bargain and sure to remember this place, take a look at the pictures. no webpage and telephone is at +33 (0) 2 99 61 87 90 .

And we came back to buy my wines at Nicolas , Vannes,and do our groceries at E Leclerc in Auray. voilà, just in one day of work. Now tomorrow rest. Enjoy it, and have a great end of weekend.

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