The forest of Brocéliande, or forest of Paimpont is located 40 km to the west of Rennes, in Ille-et-Vilaine in Brittany. It is part of the district of Brocéliande. This forest is mostly a private forest belonging to several families.
Access to public is limited but the most remarkable sites are open to everybody.
Brocéliande is a mythic forest from the Arthurian legend, usually identified as the forest of Paimpont. It is a mythic place because the forest hides many legends about King Arthur, Merlin the wizard, the fairy Viviane. The forest of Brocéliande is a mysterious place.
Flora and fauna
- RN24 (Rennes/Vannes-Lorient) exit Plélan-Le-Grand/Paimpont.
- Rennes-Saint Jacques airport.
- Bus Illenoo, from Rennes railway station, line 1: Rennes-Paimpont.
Fees and permits
- The castle of Trecesson. The castle is on the road of Paimpont-Campénéac. It is one of the most beautiful castles of Brocéliande. The oldest parts of the present castle are dated from the 15th century. The castle and its chapel have been classified Historical Monuments since 1922. The castle is at the origin of several legends like the most famous which is the legend of the White Lady. "The White Lady" is a young lady who was buried alive near the castle of Trecesson, at the bottom of an old oak. A poacher who saw the scene, waited the dawn to save the young girl. She died instantly. The Chatelaine of Trecesson, very affected by this tragedy, buried the body of the young stranger. Her crown and her nuptial veil stayed for a long time on the altar of the chapel. Many young girls ready to get married came to touch them to find a husband.
- The Golden Tree. In September 1990, a fire devastated a part of the forest of Brocéliande in the surrounding of Tréhorenteuc and the "Val sans retour" (Valley of No Return). After the fire, a reforestation of the site policy has been set in place. In memory of this event, an artist made the Golden Tree. This tree looks like the woods of a reindeer. Actually, it is a tree covered with gold leaves. The tree is surrounded by five other trees but which are charred. The burnt trees represent the fire and the golden tree the rebirth of the forest after the bleak. The Legend of the Golden Tree: according to the legend, the Golden Tree belongs to imps. These imps came every morning to take the golden leaves which were growing on the tree. With these golden leaves, mystical beings made potions to give another life to trees of the forest. But one day, a little girl, while collecting wood, saw the tree. She touched it and became a burnt tree at the bottom of the Golden Tree. In the evening, worried not to see the little girl, 3 village people went looking for her. They saw the tree, touched it and transformed into 3 burnt trees. The following day, imps cale to take the gold leaves but as soon as they touched them, they transformed into rocks. It is said that, to ward off the curse, a child must find the recipe of the potion.
- The Church of Tréhorenteuc. Its oldest parts are dated from the 16th and 18th century. It's the abbot Gillard who decided to restore the church. He made this building the shrine of the Grail. Indeed, many references to the quest of the Grail are illustrated in the church.
- The Abbey of Paimpont. The first abbey-church of Paimpont was built in 630 by Judicaël (King of Brittany). The present abbey-church was built in the 13th century and restored during the 15th century. The abbey is next to a big pond.
- The Forges of Paimpont. The forges of Paimpont are located between Plélan le Grand and Paimpont. They were created in 1673 and were one of the most important in the region. The forge worked until 1894 and you can visit it.
- The Abbey of Joie Notre Dame. The abbey has been built by Ste Anne d'Auray in 1920. Nones still live in the abbey. They sell biscuits and chocolat that they make.
- The Tomb of the Giant. Its name is probably due to its shape and its size. Excavations revealed a structure of nearly 4m long, 1m large and 1m high. This tomb was built with 3 menhirs which were already at this place. The tomb as we can see it nowadays comes from the Bronze Age (about 1500 BC).
- The Tomb of Merlin. The Tomb of Merlin is the vestige of a former covered alley dated from the neolithic. It is said that it's at this place that the fairy Viviane locked up Merlin by drawing 9 circles and pronouncing 9 magical words.
- L'hotié de Viviane. It is 191m high at the top of the Valley of No Return. It is also called the "druid tomb". It appears as a megalithic building in the shape of a chest.
The building is dated from about 2500 BC and would be the place where the fairy Viviane used to live before she met Lancelot.
- The Valley of No Return. The Valley is where legend says that the fairy Morgane (half-sister of King Arthur) locked up unfaithful men. Only Lancelot du Lac managed to escape. He made free all the knights who were prisoners.
- The Garden of the Monks. This building appears as a group of granite blocks (white and bulky in the east, in pudding stone of Montfort-sur-Meu and smaller in the west) which are in the shape of a trapezium of about 25 m long on 5 to 6 m large. Archaeological excavations have been done and flint arrowheads and a few fragments of pottery were discovered. But its real function is still unknown. The legend of the garden of the monks": The Lord Gastern de Tréhorenteuc pursued a bad way of life, surrounded by inebriated boors. They were spening all their time having feasts. During an orgy on All Saint's Day, the divine anger was such as they all transformed into rocks.
- The Fountain of Barenton. The fountain of Barenton is the place where Merlin and Viviane met. Even though she was as cold as marble, she made bubbles by intermittence.
- The Chêne à Guillotin. This tree is about 1000 years old. It is 20m high and 9.65m diameter but the most impressive is that it is hollow. Since 2000, it is protected by the National Forests Office who made arrangements to protect it: cables, wooden terrace, cage. The Legend of the Chêne à Guillotin: The oak would have been used as a refuge to the abbot Guillotin during the period of Terror. He hide in the trunk and stayed several days in it.
- The Fountain of Jouvence. Near the Tomb of Merlin, this small fountain has marvellous powers. It offers an eternal youth to everybody who respects the rules!
- The Bridge of the Secret. The pond of the secret is the place where Lancelot confessed his love for Guenièvre.
- Guided tour and stories of the forest of Brocéliande. A guide will help you discover the most remarquable places of the forest. He will also tell you a few legends.
- Treffendel park "Métropole circus". A leisure park, circus and animal park, the park of Treffendel Metropole offers visitors of all ages, a leisure "Nature and discovery" with its exotic animals, its activities linked to the circus arts, in a wooded site of 10 ha.
- The gardens of Brocéliande (Bréal-Sous-Montfort). The floral park offers a friendly walk with the family: playgrounds, animals from the farm to pet.
- Secrets of Silk Museum (Campel). The silk museum is a place with more than 5,000 insects and butterflies. Princesses and Marco Polo punctuate the history of silk, your guide opens the doors of a universe as educational as aesthetic.
- Land of Trémelin. The Land of Trémelin is a natural site stretching over 220 ha. It is in the district of Montfort in Iffendic. The site has a big forest but also a lake and moor, areas classified as Natural Zones of Ecological, Faunistic and Floristic Interest. Many hiking circuits (including going around the pond) enable to discover the site. The leisure base of Trémelin also offers diversified leisure activities.