Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
The medieval roots are deep in Brittany, and its fortified castles are witnesses of this period. Today protected as Historical Monuments, they were built by the Dukes of Brittany to protect their territory from the appetites of their French and English neighbors.
During the following centuries, other Brittany castles were built, quite different from medieval fortresses but also remarkable.
The castles in Brittany are diverse, stunning, and will become the highlight of anyone’s visit to the region. In fact, some of these are the best castles in France! Of all the things to do in Brittany, visiting these eight castles has got to be high on your France bucket list.
From medieval fortresses to Renaissance châteaux, here’s our list of the best castles in Brittany, France.
TIP: What is a château? Learn the difference between a château and a palace in France.
1. Château de Fougères (Ile-et-Vilaine)
This castle in Brittany will transport you back to the Middle Ages. Château de Fougères is located within the commune of Fougeres (north-east of Rennes) and is well worth a trip.
This medieval château in Brittany dates back to the 11th century. However, the first castle was destroyed in 1166 when King Henry II of England took it.
The château was built to protect the north-eastern part of the Brittany border. For more than five centuries, this castle was at the forefront of a relentless power struggle.
Château de Fougères is a striking example of medieval French architecture. This impressive château is set on an emerging rock looking over Fougères and is defined by its numerous turrets, towers, and a mote.
VISITS: June to September daily, October to April open daily except Monday, the castle is closed between the 3 and 31 of January.
2. Château de Vitré (Ile-et-Vilaine)
Of the best castles of Brittany, Château de Vitré is well worth a visit. This castle is in the town of Vitré (east of Rennes), and if you are in search of the perfect Hogwarts-style castle, this is the one!
Château de Vitré was originally built around the year 1000, however as it was made of wood, it burned down several times. By the 11th century, Robert I of Vitré commissioned the first stone castle to be built.
Vitré Castle overlooks the picturesque Vilaine River and the city. One of the oldest features of the castle remaining today is the Romanesque-style doorway. This triangular-shaped doorway was added to the castle by André III in the early 13th century.
Travel to Château de Vitré, and you can also wander around the museum that’s on sight.
VISITS: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the castle is open between 10 am and 5:30 pm with closure over lunch from 12:30 to 2 pm.
3. Château de Rochefort-en-Terre (Morbihan)
Of these Brittany castles, this is one of the furthest south. Château de Rochefort-en-Terre is close to Vannes, Nantes, as well as the Parc Naturel Regional de Brière.
The precise date of the construction of this impressive French castle has been difficult for historians to determine. However, many have dated the castle’s origins back to 1118. Stronghold of the Rochefort family, which gave its name to the village, it became an obligatory crossing point within the Duchy of Brittany, between Ploërmel and La Roche-Bernard.
During the next centuries, the château was destroyed and reconstructed several times. In 1908, American painter Alfred Klots bought the ruins of Rochefort-en-Terre Castle. He completely modified the building, adding towers and one floor to transform it into a residence like no other.
The castle seen today is in keeping with the Neo-Gothic style. Klots re-used the original windows, towers, doors, and gates to create his new manor. The small chapel that stands in the courtyard was rebuilt too, despite having been dismantled twice.
VISITS: The castle is open daily between 10 am and 6 pm.
4. Château des Rohan (Morbihan)
Of all the castles of Brittany, Château des Rohan is one of the most striking. Also known as Château de Pontivy, this castle was built in the 18th century in the neoclassical architectural style by architect Nicolas Salins de Montfort. Head to the east of Brittany to the commune of Fougeres, and you’ll find Château des Rohan.
Over the years, the building began to decline, and it was Napoleon III who renovated the château so that it extended further out toward the city. The facade of the château has 70 prominent windows, with eight prominent pillars at the center of the building.
This picturesque castle sits in front of the Quai du Canal, a beautiful and tranquil setting to explore the castle and its grounds. Not only can you visit a castle here, but there is also a museum, art center, youth hostel, and school. Not a bad setting for a school!
VISITS: Closed Monday and Tuesday, open between 10 am and 12 pm and 2 pm and 6 pm on all other days.
5. Château des Ducs de Bretagne
Head to the beautiful city of Nantes, and you’ll find the Château des Ducs de Bretagne. So technically, this castle is not in Brittany; it’s located 70km south of the region. So, how did it make this list of the best castles in Brittany? Well, Nantes was once the capital of Brittany, and therefore, when this castle was built in the 15th century, Château des Ducs de Bretagne was THE castle of Brittany, where the Dukes of Brittany lived and held court.
This Brittany castle is Nantes’ most important monument, and it looks a lot different from some of the other châteaux on this list. During the 16th and 17th centuries, this castle was the residence of the Kings of France, thanks to the marriage of Anne of Brittany with King Charles VII and later King Louis XII. Since then, it has become a military barracks, a prison, and an arsenal.
The castle is encased by a 500m fortified rampart, complete with a small moat. A total of seven towers connected by curtain walls complete the parapet.
VISITS: Between 1 July and 31 August, the château is closed on Mondays. Otherwise, it’s accessible daily.
6. Forteresse de Largoët (Morbihan)
Any history lovers will enjoy Forteresse de Largoët. Just 10 minutes outside Vannes and surrounded by forest, this feels like a hidden medieval paradise. Forteresse de Largoët is also close to the Gulf of Morbihan, a stunning natural harbor.
On the edge of the lake, Forteresse de Largoët is a medieval castle built between the 13th and the 15th centuries. The present building has five floors and is in ruins. It has two towers, one round and one octagonal, dating back to the 15th and 14th centuries. The imposing octagonal tower is one of the highest in France (45m), only after the keep of Château de Vincennes (52m). If you are looking for a fantastic castle and a beautiful place to embrace nature, this is one of the best castles in Brittany.
VISITS: The castle is open from 19 March to 31 October.
7. Château de Kerjean (Finistère)
This 16th-century fortified château is another of the impressive Brittany castles. It is located in the northwest of France, close to the English Channel. The castle is striking but so too are the grounds, so make some time to explore them.
Château de Kerjean was built between 1540 and 1590 in Renaissance style, with pronounced Italian influence, but was heavily damaged during the French Revolution. Built in a quadrangular plan, the castle has ramparts and four corner towers, which attest to its military role.
Like most French castles, you can visit inside the Château de Kerjean. Wander from room to room imagining what life was like in 16th century, pre-revolutionary Brittany.
VISITS: Open between 1 May and 30 September every day except Tuesdays. There is free access to the gardens all year round.
8. Château de Suscinio (Morbihan)
This is perhaps one of the most beautiful castles in Brittany if not France. Château de Suscinio was built as the residency of the Dukes of Brittany in the 13th century and is situated close to the Atlantic Ocean.
This château has it all – an impressive mote, chunky turrets fit for kings (or Dukes), and some of the most awe-inspiring surroundings. It’s a classic fairytale-looking castle, like one a child would imagine up in art class.
VISITS: The castle is open year-round from 10 am – 7 pm in spring and summer and from 10 am to 6 pm in winter.