You can drive from Fougères to the small hamlet of St Gilles Vieux Marché, 160 kms, in two hours, or you can take 200 kms and most of the day …
I had read about the Abbey at Paimpont in the magical Forest of Brocéliande and so this seemed like a good stop along the way. King Judicael, the King of Brittany, founded an Abbey on the shore of this lake in 645 AD. The original buildings were destroyed by the Normans and although the Abbey was rebuilt it has also been dramatically changed over the centuries.
There is a very pleasant walk around the lake, c.1.25 hours, with intermittent views of the Abbey. The Forest once covered most of central Brittany and is reputed to be magical, the home of Merlin and related characters. It even has a ‘Valley of No Return’.
On a whim we decided to stop in Ploërmel for a cup of coffee and found ourselves in a Mediaeval town, the place of St Armel who founded the town in the 6C. The Church named after him was closed for restoration but we were able to see the extraordinary north door. This is a little town with a powerful history that would definitely repay a visit, and particularly earlier in the year when the hydrangeas would be in bloom around the Lac du Duc.
The onward drive was pleasant, with a stop at the supermarket in Loudéac before arriving at the gîte in St Gilles Vieux Marché, tired, but ready to explore a new corner of Brittany.