The Castle of Fougeres

The Castle of Fougères is an extraordinary sight, standing on a mound in a bend of the Nançon River and jutting out from the side of the walled, Mediaeval town. You can look down on the castle from the public gardens next to the Church of St Leonard in the upper town –

Castle of Fougeres seen from the Church of St Leonard

I walked down the hill, through the public gardens and across the river, and suddenly found myself underneath the walls, looking towards one of the city gates, and up into the town walls.

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The City Gate of Notre Dame
The City Gate of Notre Dame
The City Gate of Notre Dame & part of the city walls (R)
The City Gate of Notre Dame & part of the city walls (R)
The City walls, Fougeres
The City walls, Fougeres

The first, wooden castle on the site was built in 10C and today’s castle dates from the 11C, built by Raoul II, Duke of Fougères. It is apparently a lesson in defensive architecture. The oldest tower is the Gobelins Tower (late 12C) and the square gate towers date from the same time. The semi-circular towers are later and the shape allows for gun emplacements – the whole castle illustrates the development of warfare over the early centuries and much has been written about it on the internet.

The Gobelins Tower, Fougeres Castle
The Gobelins Tower, Fougeres Castle
Gobelins Tower (R) & Melusine Tower (L)
Gobelins Tower (R) & Melusine Tower (L)
Tour Raoul, Fougeres Castle
Tour Raoul, Fougeres Castle

There is the usual drawbridge into a gateway with portcullis, and then a second barrier formed by the river with another drawbridge, portcullis and gateway – this was a formidable stronghold! The waterwheels are modern and represent the industries in the town – milling, tannery, and cloth manufacture.

The river and waterwheels between the two gateways, Fougeres Castle

Inside the walls the original buildings have disappeared, with only some outlines in place. These can best be seen by walking around the walls, as the sentries might have done in the past.

Fougeres Castle, looking towards the church of St Leonard

Tour de Coigny, Fougeres Castle Tour Raoul (L) & Tour Surienne (R), Fougeres Castle

Fougères Castle is absolutely fascinating – do visit if you are in this part of France, or travelling through the area on your way to the South!

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