Last weekend we visited the region of Bretagne, another unique and picturesque place in France. We celebrated Bastille Day in Fougères, a town that hosts the largest fortress of Europe. Read more about Fougères castle.
When my partner proposed to visit Fougères, I didn’t know what to expect, as I had never heard of this place before. Not even my French friends knew this place.
Discovering Bretagne: Bastille Day at Fougères castle
Where is Fougères located?
At less than 300 km from Paris and 50 km from Rennes, Fougères is located in the heart of Bretagne. It is also a perfect place from where you can visit the rest of the region. Fougères is within only 30 min drive away from Mont Saint Michel.
Discover Fougères castle
Let me tell you this: I’ve never seen a medieval castle more beautiful than the Castle of Fougères, surrounded by hills that offer you all-encompassing, breathtaking views on the fortress.
- Have you already visited the Fortress of Carcassonne in south of France?
The Fougères castle was built in the valley, which is strange for a castle, because they normally have defensive purpose, hence should be at a higher altitude for spotting enemies. The fortress developed around the Castle, but in altitude. The lower town was used by tanners and working class. The bourgeoisie chose to install themselves as far as possible of this stinky industry, so they went in the upper part of the Castle and required that the battlements should be extended around their district.
The view from Public Gardens offer a unique view of the Fortress, so please come here at the sunset to enjoy a romantic walk. These Gardens offer the connection between the medieval town and the upper town.
What else to see in Fougères?
The most surprising attraction of the town – and even of the region – is Fougères castle. But of course, there are plenty of things to do and see for at least 1 day.
You must visit Fougères during the weekend, as it’s the perfect occasion for you to test the fresh local products. Every Saturday morning merchants come to Fougères to propose you fresh and high quality products.
Guided tour of the city
The guided visit of the city is comprised in the price of the castle’s entrance fee. This tour is the best way to learn plenty of local history in just 1h30 of walking around. Depending on your guide, you will discover:
- the local history and why Fougères looks like this today
- all the past and current industries that shaped this town
- about Victor Hugo and Balzac, and why they chose to spend their time in Fougères and write about it
- the interior and the history of the theater of Fougères
- about the Saint-Léonard’s church
- the local impressionist painter gallery
The tour is departing at Fougères castle’s entrance, right where you buy a ticket for the Castle. Please ask at the reception if there have available guides speaking English.
View from Saint-Léonard’s church
This church from 12th century has been updated 15th century to fit more religious people inside. Since then, the church has been turn around 180°: instead of being oriented towards East, is oriented towards West. With these renovations from five centuries ago, a tower and a Flamboyant Gothic entrance have been created.
Visiting the Church is free, but if you want to climb the tower, there is a 2€ fee. But if you plan to visit Fougères castle, go do that first, and after, keep your ticket and you will visit the church’s tower for free.
Impressionist painting exhibition
As an artist myself, I’m always looking for inspiration – even during our travels. Like in every other French city we visit, we found some local painting exhibitions promoting local artists. In general, these exhibitions are for free.
Nonetheless, we came across an impressionist gallery with an entrance fee of 2€. Some paintings at the entrance caught my eye, but we skipped then, as we wanted to first visit the Castle. And boy, we were right to do them in this order, because this gallery is free if you paid the entrance fee for the castle.
Emmanuel de La Villéon was a local painter from Fougères, born in a rich family. He was never forced into selling his artworks, therefore people don’t know him as a painter. Recently, the city of Fougères opened this gallery to showcase his beautiful impressionist work donated by his family.
The impressionist current is attributed to another French painter, Claude Monet, but de La Villéon too painted some artworks 2 to 5 years before Monet, independently. He always experimented and searched for new ways to paint the light and nature.