Paimpont and Brocéliande, the gateway to a secret world


With its majestic appearance and impressive displays, Paimpont Abbey has plenty to offer. Excitement gushes from the stones. There’s peace in the grandeur of the church enclosure; and nature and legend are entwined in Brocéliande, the Gateway to a Secret World. It’s a unique experience.


We have to go right back to the 7th century to find the origins of the abbey, but nothing remains today of the priory founded by Judicaël, king of Brittany. The building that stands here today, stretching skywards, dates from the early 13th and 15th centuries. Its construction is impressive, boasting a Gothic arch as well as exquisite 17th century wood carvings and furniture. Beneath the shale, classic styles are interwoven with baroque. In the sacristy you can see some of the abbey’s treasures: powerful liturgical tomes and a Christ figure in finely carved ivory. In summer, you’ll be forgiven the sin of curiosity when you come along to join in the tours and view the exhibitions that make this sacred place come alive.


In the abbey grounds that stretch out around the lake, you’ll find the grotto of Notre–Dame de Paimpont. A perfect spot for strolls and meditation, mass is celebrated here at Pentecost – testifying to the strength of religious belief amongst the people of Brittany. The lake is like a 50 hectare mirror with the abbey reflected in it; this makes a nice extension to your walk, and you can also enjoy watersports here. Beforehand, you might want to look round the nearby shops which represent Brocéliande in a range of arts and crafts. 



In the abbey’s former outbuildings, a series of tableaux creates the setting for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Pierre, the forest warden, holds the key to the magic door. Join him at the table, where your fellow-guests are fairy beings. After listening to his exciting tales of Brocéliande, peppered with fun and laughter, you go out into the heart of the forest. Sitting on a tree stump you’re carried away into a world of local superstition, inhabited by the ‘little people’. The mists clear as you feel the heat from the furnaces, and while Pierre tells his tale, you can see the bygone days of blacksmiths and charcoal burners shimmering in the light of the flames. Before returning you to the real world, the warden shows you the very essence of Brocéliande: the Master Tree. This magical interlude in fairyland has lulled your spirit and senses, so you’ll be ready to look on your surroundings with new eyes!



Brocéliande, La Porte des secrets
Office de Tourisme de Brocéliande
1 place du Roi St Judicaël
02 99 07 84 23       
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Abbaye de Paimpont
02 99 07 83 20
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Visite de l'abbaye libre et gratuite toute l'année.
Visite guidée pour les groupes sur réservation.
Sacristie et exposition : tous les jours en juillet et août, de 10h à 12h30 et de 15h à 18h30.


Texte : Annick André

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