The Golden Tree in Paimpont, Brocéliande
©The Golden Tree, Paimpont, Brocéliande |Thibault Poriel
The Golden Tree of Brocéliande

The ‘Arbre d’Or’ (Golden Tree) of Brocéliande

This legendary tree covered in gold leaf in the Val sans Retour (Valley of No Return) arouses curiosity and admiration. Make the most of a family outing in Paimpont Forest to take a closer look at this mysterious, enchanting work of art.

A SYMBOLIC WORK OF ART IN THE ‘VAL SANS RETOUR’

In September 1990, two successive fires devastated several hundred hectares of moorland and forest in the Val sans Retour. This dreadful event provoked a wave of solidarity within the local population, keen to preserve this natural attraction in Brocéliande Forest. The following year, the Association for the Conservation of the Val Sans Retour, helped by thousands of volunteers, planted more than 500 000 trees throughout Paimpont Forest.

Sculptor François Davin created a work of art at the heart of an area of small upright stones to celebrate the forest renewal. The artist chose a charred tree whose silhouette resembled the antlers of a stag, the king of the forest, and covered it with 5 000 pieces of gold leaf. Surrounded by five blackened oak trees, the Golden Tree symbolizes the fragile yet precious nature of the forest.

Today the mysterious, glittering tree blends in perfectly with its surroundings and has become a popular attraction of Brocéliande Forest, not far from the Miroir aux Fées (lake). It even has its own legend now!


THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN TREE

A tale in keeping with the Arthurian tradition has grown up around the Golden Tree of the mythical Brocéliande Forest, land of legends. It is said that at the bottom of the Val sans Retour (Valley of no Return) stood a tree on which leaves of gold grew every night. Just before dawn the elves of Brocéliande would come and pick them in order to make a magic ointment to treat damaged trees.

One day, Henriette, a little local girl, got lost in Paimpont Forest. Seeing a tree shining in the darkness, she went up to it and touched it out of curiosity. But a curse turned her into a black tree. When her friends who had gone to look for her arrived at the foot of the tree they hugged it and suffered the same fate as Henriette.

Just before daybreak, the elves who had come to pick the leaves were suddenly transformed into stones. Ever since then the golden tree has been protected by the five black trees and the upright stones which surround it. The splendid tree continues to attract visitors, but beware of getting too close!


WALKING IN THE VAL SANS RETOUR

The Val sans Retour is a natural attraction which is very popular with walkers and fans of Breton legends. It is located within the commune of Paimpont, near the little village of Tréhorenteuc, and features a valley surrounded by ridges hollowed out of the purple rock.

Enjoy a short walk to discover the Val sans Retour in Paimpont Forest. Two routes are available : 2km or 4km. Both are ideal for a family outing to explore the legends of Brocéliande Forest.

Not far from the Golden Tree at the bottom of the valley lies the Miroir aux Fées (Fairies’ Mirror). This pretty lake, nicknamed Lac de Morgane  (Morgan the Fairy’s Lake) once provided water for a mill. Legend has it that the lake was once the haunt of seven fairies who used to come to admire their reflections in the crystal clear water every night.

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