Fougéres, more than its Castle!!

And again on the thrill of lately, updating my older posts in my blog, and what a thrill it has been. Thanks to my reades of course; giving me great memorable moments. This is a nice town, Fougéres in the Ille et Vilaine dept 35 of my lovely Bretagne! Of course, have written on Fougéres in my blog and its many wonderful sights, this one is sort of like an introduction. Hope you enjoy it as I.

And here I am at you again on my wonderful extraordinary 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. It’s a small nice fortified town that can be a nice surprise to lovers of architecture and history. Fougéres ,more than its  castle!!  Fougères is 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. It 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  , I like are (many written on separate posts)

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!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.


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.  You past by the nice homes of the Place du Marchix where the maison de Savigny is the oldest in the city, 14c/15C.

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 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 rocaille style of the 18C woodwork of Louis XV, the medieval altarpiece in granite, the stained glass of the 16C. On the left of the nave , the altarpiece dedicated to Notre Dame des Marais is one of the rare altarpiece in granite kept in Brittany, with one of the tanners lying in 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 door of the church.

The Church of Saint-Léonard, located at the top of the high City, offers a panorama view of the town.  The Church of Saint Léonard was founded in the 12C ,rebuilt in the 15C, and 16C.   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 of Brittany  (12C) which comes from the Abbey of Saint-Denis near Paris. The North Chapel holds an array from the 19C. During the high season, visitors have access to the Bell tower of the church where they will 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 French revolution, it comes from the Abbey of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis 93) 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.

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. 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 Brittany was erected by the burghers of the city in 1397. Its architecture is inspired by the Flemish models of the Drapers of Ferns and were   discovered during the travels in Flanders.  Engraved on the Bell  is the inscription:‘in 1397  the bourges of ferns  made  me and call me Chapelle Roland.  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 (dept 50).

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. 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.


As we left the city of Fougéres,  we encountered two characters one in a huge statue by rue Rallier (can be seen from rue Nationale)  of Général de La Riboisiére,  Jean-Ambroise Baston the Riboisiere  was born in Fougéres. He was classmate of Napoléon Bonaparte at the artillery school of la Fére, general and Baron of the Empire,  inspector–general of artillery, 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 he died in  Königsberg, Prussia, the General was buried at Les Invalides, Paris. But his heart rests at the Monthorin castle in Louvigné du Désert. The statue of the General was put back in 1999, as the one in 1942 had been destroyed by the nazis.


Another one, very interesting for me was of Marquis de la Rouërie, Armand Tuffin. (see big post) Born at Fougères, in 1751, Armand Tuffin de la Roûerie  is covered with glory in the US war of independence under the name of Colonel Armand. 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 goverment. Betrayed by one of his friends, the doctor in this case, hunted down  he died of exhaustion in the castle of Guyomar (côte d’Armor dept 22) on January 30, 1793. He will be beheaded post-mortem ,and his body has never been found. RIP.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here , and is a must are:

The city of Fougéres on heritage:

The Fougéres tourist office

The Ille et Vilaine dept 35 tourist office on Fougéres

The Bretagne region tourist board on Fougéres

There you go ,now you are well armed to see and enjoy this wonderful city of Fougéres in nice Ille et Vilaine, lovely Bretagne, of my belle France.

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

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

  1. The day that I went there was busy with a cycle race and there was nowhere to park the car.

    Liked by 1 person

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