La Roche‑aux‑Fées (Fairies’ Rock)

If you are fond of megalithic monuments, don’t miss the dolmen known as the Roche-aux-Fées. Situated at Essé, 30km south of Rennes this Neolithic burial site is of an astonishingly impressive size.

THE LARGEST DOLMEN IN FRANCE

At almost 20 metres long by six metres wide and four metres high, the Roche-aux-Fées is the largest dolmen in France and one of the best preserved in Europe. It was also one of the first one thousand historic monuments to receive listed status.

40 blocks of shale each weighing several tonnes

The Roche-aux-Fées is an impressive landmark comprising a long corridor of around forty shale slabs, the heaviest of which are over forty tonnes. In fact the overall weight of the megaliths is more than 500 tonnes.

The 5,000 year old edifice has definitely withstood the test of time ! The huge stones came from the Forêt du Theil-de-Bretagne, 4 km away, the only place where this type of rock can still be found.

A 5,000 year old burial site

The entrance to the ancient gallery grave is via the main portal made of three blocks of carved stone. Originally only the entrance to the burial chamber would have been visible as the grave would have been covered by a mound of earth (tumulus). Nowadays the dolmen is all that remains of this huge Neolithic monument.

The mysterious winter solstice alignment

During the winter solstice around 21 or 22 December, the sun rises directly facing the entrance to the dolmen and its rays light up the stone at the end of the gallery grave as if by magic. This enchanting sight attracts many visitors to the Roche-aux-Fées!


LEGENDS OF LA ROCHE-AUX-FÉES

In true Breton tradition, this massive dolmen in Ille-et-Vilaine is the subject of many legends. Built by fairies, the edifice is also known to play tricks on unsuspecting young lovers…

Myth of the fairy builders

The dolmen takes its name from a legend which claims that it was built in a single night to by fairies dropping stones from their aprons in order to show that they really exist.

The modern lovers’ legend

It is also said that the number of stone slabs which make up the dolmen changes all the time : are there forty, forty-one or forty-two rocks? To put their love to the test and see if their relationship will last, couples must walk right around the Roche-aux-Fées, each walking in the opposite direction to the other, and count the stones. If they both have the same number a bright future together is assured!


VISITING LA ROCHE-AUX-FÉES

Access to the Roche-aux-Fées at Essé is free and easy. Just leave your car in the nearby car park by the Roche-aux-Fées Visitor Centre (Maison d’Accueil) then walk along the sign posted footpath to the dolmen.

Maison de la Roche-aux-Fées Visitor Centre

The Maison de la Roche-aux-Fées Visitor Centre is close to the dolmen. It houses an exhibition space with key facts about the megalithic site as well as a tourist information point.

Discover the Roche-aux-Fées dolmen

To explore the megalithic site on your own, a discovery booklet is available from the Visitor Centre. You can also download the free app « Roche aux Fées » onto your smartphone or borrow digital tablets with the app « Mission Archéo », ideal for children.

Visit the dolmen with a guide

Fans of the mysteries surrounding megaliths can choose a guided tour of the Roche-aux-Fées where a professional guide explains all aspects of the emblematic monument.

Geocaching at La Roche-aux-Fées

Make the most of your visit to the Roche-aux-Fées area to try the two nearby geocaching trails « Trésors de Haute-Bretagne » (French only):

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