Château de Fougères dates back to the year 1000 and was the cornerstone of Brittany’s border defenses during the Middle Ages. Only a simple tower surrounded most likely by a wooden fence, the first Château was destroyed in 1166 by Henry II Plantagenet. Baron Raoul II (we will see his name again on one of the towers) rebuilt the tower in stone. The oldest existing parts date from this reconstruction time.
The interior portion of the gate house complex provided the first line of defense as it could be flooded in the event of an attack.
The perimeter is enclosed by several hundred meters of ramparts, most of which you can walk along. This section is the second defense enclosure found at the Château. From the inside of the Château you can see the Church of Saint Léonard in the Upper Town as well as the beautiful hillside garden that connects the church to the Château. Just follow the garden path from behind the church and you will arrive at the Château.
The Mélusine tower lies within the third enclosure known as the reduit. The third enclosure is the Château’s birth place and is the last refuge in times of attack. This 4 story perfectly cylindrical tower is 13 meters (42.7 feet) in diameter, 30 meters (98 feet) tall and has walls that are 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) thick.
The Gobelins tower is the oldest stone keep of the Château. It is 27 meters tall (88.5 feet) and has walls that are 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) thick at the base. Like the Mélusine tower, it has 4 stories but it also has a basement.
Below, a view of the Public Gardens behind the Church of Saint Léonard as viewed from the ramparts of Château Fougères.
I love this view from the gardens looking down at the Château. You can even see the red umbrellas at the brasserie where I recommend you stop for a meal.
It is impossible to look at the ramparts and not to think of how much fun our boys would have had here when they were younger.
The Raoul tower above is 20 meters (65.6 feet) in diameter, 20 meters high and has walls that are 7 meters (22.9 feet) thick at the base. It is 5 stories tall and has a cannon platform at the top.
Your walk down from the Pubic Gardens will bring you to this street behind the Château. Although our stop in Fougères was timed for mid-day so we could have a quick look at the Chateau after we ate, we ended up spending the whole day here because it was so fascinating.
If you have children, be sure to ask about the tour that is especially designed for ages 7-12 years