Interesting facts about Fougères, France and why you should visit

From the largest megalithic site in the world to charming beachside towns, there is a lot to see in the Brittany region of France. There are also a lot of hidden gems awaiting to be discovered. One such place is the city of Fougères. Located just a stone’s throw away from Rennes and Saint-Malo, it’s a must see for anyone visiting the area. The city has some unique sites, including a medieval fortified castle and its own set of megalithic alignments. 

A city with equal parts history and charm, you're going to want to check out these fun and interesting facts as you plan your visit to Fougères. 

1 |  Fougères means ferns

The name of the city is derived from the french word for fern. The name is also said to come from the French word “fossé,” meaning “gap” as the town sits on the border between Brittany and Normandy .

2 |  Its own prehistoric stones

Can't get enough of the nearby Carnac standing stones? The Fougères Forest on the outskirts of the city is filled with megalithic monuments. The formations and alignments date as far back as 5,000 years BC.

3 |  Europe’s largest medieval fortress

The Château de Fougères, which dominates the city’s landscape, is the largest medieval fortress in Europe. The site of the castle was strategically positioned on high ground, with the Nançon River forming a natural moat around the structure. The fortress has three layers of fortification and an impressive 13 towers. The castle exchanged hands several times between the English and the French during the middle ages and today is owned by the municipality and run as a tourist site. 

4 |  Capital of female footwear

Fougères was once known as the “capital of female footwear.” At the beginning of the 20th century, the town was home to 60 shoe factories. The industry was particularly hard hit during the great depression and then the oil shock in 1973. The last shoe manufacturer in Fougères closed down only in this past year, putting an end to the local footwear industry.

5 |  Oldest belfry in Brittany

The oldest belfry in Brittany was built in the 14th century in Fougères. Paid for my the local merchants, this structure symbolized civil society and independence as it allowed the general public a way to keep time, a privilege formerly only held by the church and nobility. An inscription on the bell reads: "In 1397 the market town of Fougères made me and my name is Roland Chapelle." The belfry was designated a national historic monument in 1922. There are only two other belfries still standing in Brittany. 

6 | A muse for famous writers

Famous writers including Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert and Balzac spent time in Fougères and have described it in their literary works. The city’s public garden was the inspiration for Balzac’s final chapter of “Les Chouans,” and in a letter to his daughter, Hugo said he had visited the garden at all times of day and he just couldn’t get enough of it.

7 | Fountains, flowers and ferns

Flanking the Nançon river, there is a large Jardin Public with a beautiful treed promenade. This public space is filled with fountains, flowers and you guessed it, ferns. In fact, one section of the garden contains over 50 species of ferns from around the world.

8 | A charming old quarter 

La “Ville Basse” is the oldest part of the town. Here you can see many great examples of half timbered buildings that have been preserved. The Place du Marchix is also located in this neighbourhood. It used to be primarily the artisans quarter, but was also a place where people came to wash laundry using ashes from ferns. 

9 | A little bit of American history 

If you are familiar with American history, you may recognize the name Colonel Armand. Born in Fougères in 1751 as Charles Armand Tuffin, marquis de la Rouërie, he befriended Colonel Washington and was a key player in the American War of Independence. After successfully rising the ranks in the American Army, he returned to France where he helped lead the creation of the Breton Association or the "Chouannerie," a group of royalists defending the French monarchy during the French Revolution.

10 | Flower Power

Since 2000, Fougères has been awarded the highest rank for floral décor. The “villes et villages fleuris” contest has been running since 1959 with a goal of promoting flowers and green spaces in French communities. Cities and villages are awarded a rank of one to four flowers by a regional and a national committee of judges. If you’re looking to find a city or town in France that oozes charm, always check to see what their floral rank is. A city with a four-flower rating, like Fougères, is always extra photogenic!


Would you like to visit Fougères? What fact did you find most interesting?


Post a Comment


Bisous des Caribous Theme by STS.