Stage town for the 5th time

Sub-prefecture of Ille-et-Vilaine (35)

Population: 20,500 (Fougerais, Fougeraises)

Specialities: shoes, glassware, galette-saucisse (sausage pancake), pommé ramaougerie (made from cooked apples) 

Personalities: Juliette Drouet (Victor Hugo's muse), Honoré de Balzac (writer), Fabien Lemoine (footballer), Albert Bouvet (cyclist), General Lariboisière (Napoleonic general), Emmanuel de la Villéon (impressionist painter), Jean Guéhenno (writer), Georges Franju (film-maker), Fabien Lemoine (footballer at St Etienne), Abbé Bridel (democrat abbot), Marquis Armand Tuffin de la Rouërie (companion of La Fayette, initiator of the Breton conspiracy), Nicolas Peyrac (singer), the brothers Georges and Joseph Groussard (cycling). 

Sport: Approximately 65 sports associations (12,000 members). Pays de Fougères Basket (N3), Badminton Club of the country of Fougères, Subaquatic Club Fougères (deep diving pit of 50 meters), Twirling Club (international level).Events: 100km of Nordic walking (May), Tour de Bretagne (May), International Women's Basketball Tournament U20 (June), La Georges Groussard gran fondo.

Festivals: Fougères musicals (June, 8th edition), Medieval festival (June), Place aux Arts (contemporary art, June-September), Pastel exhibition in Brittany (biannual mid-August, early September), children's book fair (November)

Economy: Tourism, Fougères castle. Electronics (Safran, more than 500 employees), optics, eyewear, shoes, leather goods, luxury ready-to-wear, food (Mixbuffet, Les Ateliers du Chocolat, Monbana, Puratos), industrial paint, transport (Gelin group, Groussard group), research and innovation (BioAgroPolis). 

Slogan: "You haven't seen Fougères, you haven't seen anything".

Labels: town of art and history, town in bloom**** / "100 most beautiful detours" / Cities of Art in Brittany / active and sporty town / Land of Games 2024

Websites: www.fougeres.fr / www.ot-fougeres.fr/accueil / www.ille-et-vilaine.fr / www.bretagne35.com / www.rennes-portes-bretagne.com / www.tourismebretagne.com/

© Nicolas Farard
Remparts du château de Fougères © Ville de Fougères
Carrière du rocher coupé et le château © R.Duval

FOUGÈRES, A STORY 

The largest medieval fortress in Europe

On the borders of Lower Normandy, Brittany and the Pays de Loire, Fougères offers the multiple facets of a nature town, with a rich historical heritage. Ideally located 30 minutes from Rennes and Mont-Saint-Michel, the medieval town allows its visitors to cross the centuries in a day, as the monuments that make up the town are still witnesses to over a thousand years of history.

This is the case first and foremost for its castle, the largest medieval fortress in Europe, an impressive vessel perched on the rock. The eventful history of the kingdom of France and the duchy of Brittany is told in a visual and audio tour. To present the history of the town in more detail, from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution, an Architecture and Heritage Interpretation Centre will soon be built nearby. 

A Town of Art and History and a member of the network of the "100 most beautiful detours in France", Fougères is also home to the oldest belfry in Brittany, private mansions with elaborate facades, rich religious buildings and industrial buildings that bear witness to a sumptuous economic period. 

A "natural town", Fougères is home to numerous parks and gardens, both horticultural areas with flowers and wild natural areas, favourable to biodiversity, some of which have been awarded the "LPO refuge zone" label.  The natural site of the cut rock, opposite the castle, is an exceptional natural area, laid out around a lake and a few steps from the town centre; a footpath gives access to one of the most beautiful views of the castle. 

Château de Fougères © Ville de Fougères

FOUGÈRES AND CYCLING

The finish of a 73-kilometre team time trial was held in Fougères during the 1985 Tour. Bernard Hinault and his La Vie Claire team put on an impressive show of strength. Closer to now, in 2013, the town and its imposing castle hosted the start of a stage that took the peloton to Tours and, in 2015, a finish that saw Mark Cavendish's only victory that year.

We are also in the town of Albert Bouvet, who left us in 2017. Winner of Paris-Tours in 1956, twice runner-up in the world pursuit, the "bulldog of Fougères" became a journalist, an outstanding organiser and a cobblestone scout to become the technical director of the Tour de France. His son Philippe was and remains one of the most loyal and respected analysts of the Grande Boucle. 

In 2018, it was Dutch rider Dylan Groenewegen who won the sprint in Fougères ahead of Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan.

Mark Cavendish victorieux à Fougères lors de l'étape 7 du Tour de France 2015 © Presse Sports/Stéphane Mantey

SIGHTS

Fougères Castle
In the shelter of the high hills and on a rocky mass, surrounded by marshes, a first wooden feudal mound was built in the 11th century. Destroyed in the 12th century, the fortification was immediately rebuilt in stone to take advantage of the water moat. Its defences, improved over 400 years, make it a real history book of military architecture.
It is the largest fortress in Europe that has been so well preserved: more than 90,000 people discover its entertaining and educational scenographic tour designed in 2009. 
www.chateau-fougeres.com/fr 
www.facebook.com/fabuleuxchateaudefougeresofficiel

Belfry
The Fougères belfry is visible as soon as you enter the town from Rennes. Built in 1397 overlooking the medieval quarter, it is the symbol of the power of the bourgeoisie and merchants. It was built on the Flemish model observed during the commercial trips of the time. Housing the city's bells, the building also marks the mastery of time. Listed as a historical monument in 1922, it has paced the rhythm of life for the people of Fougerais for over 600 years. There are still only two belfries in Brittany: one in Dinan and the oldest in Fougères.

The industrial district
The Bonabry district, born of the Industrial Revolution, remains an atypical district of Fougères. Witness to a flourishing period linked to the manufacture of shoes, it experienced a considerable boom in the 19th century. Large factories, workshops, a church, cafés and shops developed there. Today, visitors will still find many traces of this past: railway bridge, facades of old factories decorated with mosaics by Odorico, owners' houses... not to mention the church of Bonabry, completed only after the Second World War. Its modern stained-glass windows with strong colours and its unusual decorations in a religious building give it an obvious originality.

Medieval quarter (House of Savigny)
It is possible to relive the rich hours of the medieval city, along the moat and the Nançon, discovering the old wash houses. For example, below the wheels of the castle's mill, which have been completely renovated and are once again in operation, but also on the Place du Marchix, lined with pretty half-timbered houses. In this district of the lower town, the Maison de Savigny is the oldest house in town. Restored in the 1990s, it hosts heritage workshops, summer exhibitions and cultural events.

Emmanuel de La Villéon Museum
Completely renovated in 2012, the Emmanuel de La Villéon Museum is nestled in one of the oldest timber-framed houses in Fougères, on Rue Nationale. On three levels, the new, resolutely contemporary scenography presents around thirty works by this little-known impressionist painter. 

Victor Hugo Theatre
Inspired by the theatre in Angers, the one in Fougères was designed by the architect Jean-Marie Laloy. The curtain rose on the stage for the first time in 1886. In 2001, after an identical restoration that gave it back all its character and brilliance, it opened its doors again. Its late 19th century décor, all red and gold, illuminates a new contemporary programme. 

Château de Fougères © Xavier Dubois
Le beffroi dans la ville de Fougères © Getty/Cécile Haupas
L'église Notre Dame de Bonabry à Fougères © Creative Commons 4.0/PsamatheM
Vue de Fougères cité médiévale © Nicolas Farard

TO EAT : 

Sougéal goose or Couesnon goose
Sougéal, a small town in the Fougères region, is famous for its Goose Festival and for this local breed of goose, which is raised on 300 hectares of marshland fed by the Couesnon.
These geese feed exclusively on grass. Two or three weeks before slaughter, they leave the marshes to be fattened on grain. The small goose from Sougéal, with its white plumage, is slaughtered when it is about six months old and weighs between 3 and 4 kilos. It has a firm flesh that can be used for roasts, stews, casseroles, rillettes etc. The geese of Brittany were among the great gastronomic products of the region in the 19th century and Sougéal maintains this tradition, which is being lost. 

Groupe d'oies © Getty/Nils Hasenau

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