Fougères is a good place to unwind before embarking on a holiday, or as a stop on the road north, or south. The Castle is extraordinary – hugely powerful and showing the changes in warfare and defense over 200-300 years. And if I visited again I would spend more time walking in the mediaeval town where tanners, drapers, and millers used the river for their trades.
In the upper town the Rue Nationale is the main street, lined with the impressive mansions of the wealthy who had moved away from the small houses in the valley up the hill in the open air, and the main theatre. You will also find an old Belfry, the oldest such building in Brittany. This part of the town was mainly rebuilt in stone in the 18C after a fire had destroyed the older wood-framed buildings.
At the top of the street is the Church of St Leonard, the second church on the site and built between 15C and 17C. Major alterations in the 19C produced the current façade.
At the end of the 19C Fougères was industrially very active, becoming the centre of the shoe trade in France, apparently. Today, like many industrial quarters, is has become ‘gentrified’. The Ange Morel factory was built in 1927 and is a startling Art Deco building in the Bonabry Quarter, only c.20 minutes away from the Rue Nationale! Today it is a residential home for the elderly. And the Church of Bonabry also dates from the beginning of the 20C – sadly it was closed.
The Convent of the Urbanistes dates from the end of the 17C and is now partially destroyed and no longer a convent. It is quite a surprising sight – on the edge of the town and with a field of goats!
The market operates on Saturday mornings and is busy!
Morel & Gaté Factory – photographs
I would love to hear from you!