Fougéres, more than its Castle!

And here I am at you again on my wonderful extraordinary Brittany or Bretagne, or Breizh. I have as mentioned on my posts on Fougéres many times by on my trips to and from Paris. However, once or twice I have stopped inside and written on it here, it is a small nice fortified town that can be a nice surprise to lovers of architecture and history. This is Fougéres of course.

I like to tell you a bit more on it on this post.

Fougères  in dept 35 of Ille-et-Vilaine, région of Brittany/ Bretagne.Located in the Marches (swampy areas) of Brittany, in the northeast of the Ille-et-Vilaine department. The fortified city initially developed on the plateau (about 140 meters above sea level) on the left bank of the Nançon, a tributary of the right bank of the Couesnon coastal River, the castle, oddly in a low position (at 114 meters above sea level), occupying a eminence of the convex shoreline at the lobe of a particularly accentuated meander of the Nançon.

Fougères is located at: 330 km from Paris, 40 km from Rennes, 58 km from Mont-Saint-Michel, 81 km from Saint-Malo, 290 km from Brest, 140 km from Nantes. Fougères is served by the Estuary expressway A84 between Caen and Rennes, and by the N12 which crosses the city from east to west. By the N12 going from Brest to Paris via Rennes and Alençon, but whose section is now downgraded to the departmental road between Romagné and Rennes, the construction of the A84 expressway which passes a little to the west of the city, but to which Fougéres  is , from its road bypass, connected by a four-lane road. Since the stop of the regular traffic of travellers between Fougéres and Vitré there is no train service since 1972. The N12 road is the one I take lately to go to Paris toll free.

A bit of history I like

Fougères is historically, since the arrival of Latin in Armoric, in the territory of practice of Gallo in which it is called Foujerr. Its name in Breton is Felger; However ,Breton has never been spoken in the country of Fougéres which lies outside the traditional area of diffusion of the Breton language yet the entrance panels of the agglomeration have been installed there for several years with Breton language.

The creation of Fougéres dates back to the Middle Ages. The first mention of the Castle of Fougéres  is found in the late 10C. It was at the time a simple wooden fortification located on a rocky ridge, whose position dominated the Nançon valley and the surrounding marshes. Fougéres  was at the crossroads of two Roman lanes, one from Chartres to Carhaix and the other from Avranches to Nantes. From the 12C onwards, the population departed from the banks of the  Nançon river  and the city grew higher in height, divided into two parishes: Saint-Sulpice for the lower town and Saint-Léonard for the high town. From the Middle Ages, artisanal activity developed around the tannery, weavers and clothiers in the lower town.

Built in the 11C by the Lords of Fougéres, the first fortification, defended by Raoul II, was taken by Henri II Plantagenet in 1166 and destroyed. Raoul II, obstinate, will have it rebuilt in more imposing, and it will become a stronghold defending the borders of Brittany, Mont Saint-Michel and Nantes. The population of Fougéres requests assistance from the Duchy of Brittany. And it was returned to its circle in 1428, sold by Jean II of Alençon. But in 1449, a man named François de Surienne, a Aragonese mercenary in the service of the English, seized and sacked it, in order to force Brittany to ally itself with England. There are many massacres, which provoke the reaction of duke François I of Brittany, determined to get rid of the English. The Duke of Brittany allied himself with Charles VII of France, attacked the south of Normandy and put the siege in front of Fougéres. Surienne and his men, however, manage to resist and make themselves conditional on being able to leave free. This episode announces the Battle of Formigny. Finally , La Trémoille, French general, seized Fougéres in 1488, during the Mad War.

During the French revolution the province of Brittany disappears and its privileges with it. The first changes made are well received. But the population then divides, the civil constitution of the clergy of priests, the lifting of Mass trigger a rebellion, the Chouannerie. In 1793, the campaigns are increasing and soon the troubles escalate into riots. The same year, during the trip of Galerne, the Chouans and the Vendéens took over the city on November 3, 1793 which was taken over on November 18, 1793 by the Republicans (revolutionaries). For eight years, the city and its region passed from hand to hand, with the passing of numerous massacres and lootings. The chief of the Chouans in the vicinity of Fougères was the young general Aimé de Boisguy. The region of Fougères was concerned by the schism of the Church, Catholics refusing the Concordat of 1801, known locally as “louises”.

The monument to the dead of Fougéres bears the names of 640 soldiers from the town who died for France during WWI. The military square bears the names of 148 other dead soldiers in Fougéres, but not native to this city, because Fougéres hosted in its hospital during WWI many casualties of the war from afar.  The monument to the dead of Fougéres bears the names of 52 people who died for France during WWII. The liberation was marked by the terrible American-British bombardments of 6 and 8 June 1944,

Things to see

The Château de Fougères occupies an area of two hectares. It is made up of three enclosures in a good state of conservation. If the lordship dwelling is in ruins, the thirteen towers are still standing. Some are visitable, such as the Hallay Tower, The Hague Tower (12C), the Raoul Tower (15C), or the Melusine tower. At the entrance there is a triple water mill. Access to the West curtain makes it possible to observe the  city from above it afar with great views. If anything this alone is worth the detour to see it!

Fougéres

Fougeres

The Belfry is the first to be built in Brittany, in 1397. Its architecture is inspired by the Flemish models that the clothiers of Fougéres discovered during their travels in Flanders. On the bell is engraved the inscription: “In 1397 the Bourges of Fougéres made me and call me Roland Chapelle”.

The Porte Notre-Dame; this gate of the 15C with a double drawbridge presents numerous tusks including moats, wells, machicolations, etc., and a protective Virgin facing outward. It is the only fortified gate in the city that still remains. The Theatre de Fougéres is rather nice but never been inside.

The Church of Bonabry which the works began in1891 and ended with a blessing from the Archbishop of Rennes in 1893. In Neo-Romano-Byzantine style, the façade of the Church is inspired by Notre-Dame-la-Grande of Poitiers. The chorus was rebuilt after the bombardment of 1944. Its capitals were done in 1962. In city center there is a nice small Musée de l’Horlogerie (Clock museum )that looks very nice quaint but no time to go in yet, just browse the shop.

The Saint-Sulpice Church is home to two remarkable medieval altarpieces in monumental granite, with carved decorations: The Tanners ‘ altarpiece and the altarpiece of Notre-Dame-des-Marais. The Church of Saint-Léonard, located at the top of the high City, offers a panorama view of the town. The former Convent of the Clarisse Urbanists, built in 1680 and destroyed in part by a fire in 1794, now houses a cultural center after being used as a prison and then as barracks.

The city/town hall was built in the 15C. The Emmanuel-de-la-Villéon museum; House with porch built in the 16C located near the Church of Saint-Léonard.  The Hôtel de la Belinaye, built in 1740, is the birthplace of the Marquis de la Rouërie Armand Tuffin. It now hosts the city courthouse. He who participated in the American independence where he showed himself courageous and named Coronel by Gen Washington. He returned to Brittany in 1791 and created the Breton Association to incite the independence of Brittany; chase by the French Revolution he is finally captured and beheaded in 1794.

The Victor-Hugo Municipal Theatre, one of the last Italian theatres, was built in 1888. La Tour du Papegaud, a place where the plot of the novel Les Chouans by Balzac unravels. The Public Garden: located in the upper town, it offers a remarkable panorama of the city, overlooking the castle and the medieval quarter around the Church of Saint-Sulpice. Le Val Nançon: A landscaped garden that offers many ambiences to discover as you step up. Exhibition of contemporary works including the work on the life of Louis-Marie Catta since 2000.

Fougeres

Again out of habit and simplicity, here are some webpages to help you plan your trip here in addition to my blog posts.

City of Fougeres on heritage

Tourist office of Fougeres

Tourist office of Ille et Vilaine on Fougéres

Tourist office of Brittany on Fougéres

There you go ,now you are well armed to see and enjoy this wonderful city of Brittany: Fougéres.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

3 Comments to “Fougéres, more than its Castle!”

  1. I visited Fougéres a few years ago, a magnificent castle. As good as Carcassonne do you think? I like the statue of Chateaubriand.

    Liked by 1 person

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