- The Forest of Brocéliande: La Forêt de Brocéliande is among the 5 best rated Tourist Attractions in France.
Numerous myths and legends are entwined around the mystic Forest of Brocéliande in the heart of Brittany, as the story of King Artus begins here. Follow the traces of the king and his knight Lancelot, or the magician Merlin and his fay Vivian and be captured by this mystical place.
Walking through the mystical Forest of Brocéliande
The best way to explore the area is by taking a beautiful walk. You should first get your hands on an Artus-hiking map in one of the surrounding tourism offices, as some of the mystic sites are well hidden. Alternatively, you could explore the enchanting forest with a guide, dressed in the manner of the legendary time.
In any case, do not miss paying a visit to Castle Comper, which was the residence of King Salomon in the 9th century. Right next to it, you will find a beautiful lake. The legend says that Merlin the magician erected a crystal palace here for his fay Vivian. In this underwater castle she supposedly raised Lancelot, who later became known as a brave knight. Today, Castle Comper houses the “Centre de l'imaginaire arthurien“, which is dedicated to the legend of Artus and organizes numerous exhibitions, stage plays and forest walks.
In the depths of the forest you can discover another legendary place, the Well of Barenton. According to the legend, Merlin and Vivian used to meet by the bubbling fountain. The spring water was supposed to heal ringworms, soothe lunatics and help young women to get married. Pouring this water on the perron of Merlin (a stone), it is said, can also make it rain. Pure souls will find the nearby Fountain of Youth, which could possibly fulfill the dream of everlasting youth.
Brittany is known for its many megaliths. The Forest of Brocéliande also has large stone monuments, some of which are ascribed to the heroes of the Artus legend. The East of the forest houses the remaining of a gallery grave (Allée couverte), supposedly the grave of Merlin. In this part of the forest, you can also find the house of Vivian, called the druid grave made out of red slate, and the grave of giants, which once used to be called the witch rock. Very impressive is furthermore the over 3.500 years old megalithic monument Garden of the Monks.
The valley of no return – attention men!
The narrow valley Val-sans-retour is the cradle of many legends. Accordingly, this is where the fairy Morgane captured unfaithful husbands, who had dared to enter the valley. One day, however, the venturous knight Lancelot attacked the guardian dragons, freed the captives and thereby broke the spell. Today, you can discover the valley on a four kilometer long footpath that leads you up to a pond with the tuneful name “Le miroir des Fées“ (Mirror of Fairies).
To the West of the Forest of Brocéliande lies the small village Tréhorenteuc. Discover the astonishing "L'église du Saint Graal" – the church of the Holy Grail! The religious building, which was elaborately restored between 1942 and 1962, is embellished with themes of the Artus legend and esoteric symbols.
The ideal starting point for a discovery tour is the picturesque little place Paimpont, at the edge of the forest. It is also worth visiting the monastery from the 13th century. In the narrow alleyways of the village you can discover many blacksmiths from between the 17th and 20th century, which indicate the heritage of Paimpont. South of Paimpont you can visit the megalith compound of Monteneuf, which dates back to the year 5000 BC.
How to get there
You will not find the Forest of Brocéliande on any map, as it is only marked as the forest of Paimpont. It lies about 30 kilometers west of Rennes. You follow the N24 until Plélan-le-Grand and then turn onto the D38 to Paimont. After a few kilometers you will have reached the forest.