EXPLORE THE ‘PETITE CITÉ DE CARACTÈRE®’
Make the most of visiting the area of Lac de Trémelin and Brocéliande Forest to discover this town built of red stone just a short distance from Rennes.
A historic town of colourful houses
Montfort-sur-Meu is recognisable by its shale buildings ranging from purple to deep red, typical of « Montfort puddingstone » which used to be quarried at the heart of the forest.
Stroll through the streets of the town centre and admire its historic houses. In the Middle Ages the Rue de la Saulnerie was the main street for the salt trade. It has elegant, purple-hued houses and shops with wooden fronts dating from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Tour du Papegault
The walled Tour du Papegault is the most impressive building in the medieval centre. The circular, five-storey tower was originally part of the castle (now destroyed) built by the Seigneurs of Montfort at the end of the 14th century and housed the only way in to the main keep via a door on the first floor. The tower can be visited as part of free, themed tours run by the town.
The name Papegault means parrot in Old French and refers to an annual competition for the town’s militia in which the archers had to aim at an imitation bird with striped feathers installed at the top of the tower. The archer who successfully knocked the bird from its perch was elected « Papegault king» and was exempt from paying taxes for a year.
Just next to the tower stands the church of Saint-Louis-Marie-Grignion built in the 19th century on the ruins of the ancient castle. It overlooks the Etang de la Cane (lake) and its grounds, a lovely place for a walk. It is dedicated to Saint Louis-Marie Grignion whose birthplace can be found in the Rue de la Saulnerie.
Birthplace of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort
The Counter-Reformation missionary Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort was born in 1673 at 15, Rue de la Saulnerie. He founded several religious congregations including the Company of Mary (Montfort Missionaries) and the Daughters of Wisdom. His birthplace is open to the public and is a place of pilgrimage.
WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET…
Two rivers meet in Montfort-sur-Meu, the Meu and its tributary the Garun. The situation of the town has played in an important role in the town’s history.
Historic mills and tanneries
Several tanneries were set up on the banks of the Meu in the Middle Ages. Up until the end of the 19th century there were ten establishments in the district of Faubourg de Coulon close to the confluence of the rivers Meu and Garun. The Rue de la Tannerie and Ruelle des Moulins recall the existence of this once flourishing industry. The last tannery closed in 1966.
Closeby stands an old bark mill with its water wheel. It was used to grind oak bark to obtain tanbark, a powder used in the tanning process to make leather supple and durable.
At the confluent of the Meu and the Garun
On the site of the spillway created in the 19th century, there used to be a wooden footbridge across the river leading to the two town mills. Today the meeting point of the Meu and the Garun offers one of the loveliest views of Montfort-sur-Meu.
Visiting Montfort-sur-Meu is a delightful experience combining nature and history with discovery trails and footpaths from the historic centre to the banks of the Meu and on to the edge of the forest.
Guided tour of Montfort by canoe
Discover the tanners’ town from the water ! The Office de Tourisme runs guided canoe trips along the river from May to September. Climb aboard at the end of the afternoon for an unusual 1½ hour tour supervised by a monitor from the canoe club and the cultural officer for Montfort Communauté district council. Explore the hidden corners of the medieval town and learn about its history and legends as you paddle along the Meu.
The historic heart of Montfort-sur-Meu
A free discovery booklet « Montfort, l’inattendue » is available from the Office de Tourisme. You can explore the little character town in 1 hour along a 2km trail starting from the Place des Douves. The booklet is full of anecdotes about the history and heritage of Montfort-sur-Meu.
There is also an interactive walk to discover Montfort-sur-Meu by downloading the free app GuidiGo to your smartphone. The route has 14 stages starting from the Mail René Maurel.
Geocaching at Montfort-sur-Meu
Fans of « Trésors de Haute-Bretagne (geocaching trails in French only) » can enjoy looking for hidden treasure on the geocaching trail « Balade sur le mail » For more adventure another trail in the footsteps of the Lords of Montfort is set among the remains of the medieval castle of Boutavent.
Parks and gardens in Montfort-sur-Meu
There are plenty of places for family walks at the heart of Montfort. The local park in the Rue Saint-Nicolas has a pretty English-style garden landscaped in the 19th century. A 15-minute walk along the GR37 hiking path leads to the Forêt de Montfort. A network of paths and boardwalks in the Etang de la Cane park lead to a wildlife pond and several play areas for children.
Country walk starting from Montfort-sur-Meu
A 10km circular trail (La porte de Brocéliande n° 112) starting from the Tour Papegault offers a lovely walk on the edge of the forest with superb views of the upper part of the town. The trail follows the banks of the Meu and past the ancient priory of Saint-Lazare and the abbey of Saint-Jacques de Montfort whose 14th century entrance is a listed historic monument.
PLAN YOUR STAY
Brocéliande, land of legends
The scene of the legend of King Arthur, Brocéliande forest is the mythical heart of Brittany.