The Argoat area (literally “The Wood region”), is a region where past traditions are very much part of everyday, contemporary life – vivid and intense. Whether we’re talking about dancing and costumes, sport and literature, religious “pardons” or “festou-noz”, the Breton soul is revealed through these aspects of the region’s festivals. The area is the source of numerous rivers, whose bubbling courses lead the visitor into the heart of our industrial heritage (for example at Belle-isle-en-Terre or Chatelaudren), as well as our historic heritage (Pontrieux or Guingamp)…So many sites which, along with others, reveal the energy of a region which has at its heart an authentic Breton spirit.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
BULAT-PESTIVIEN & ITS GRANITE TREASURES
Perfectly located between employment centres at Guingamp and Carhaix, Bourbriac is home to some of the most significant architectural jewels in the whole of Brittany : Notre Dame church whose steeple is the highest in the Cotes d’Armor (66 metres), the oak of Tronjoly, the Saint Anne and Pestivien chapels, the magnificent fountains of the Seven Saints, Le Coq and Le Lait. The Bodelio manor offers visitors the chance to explore Brittany’s history and its traditional arts in a wonderful historic setting. Also recommended is a visit to the impressive horse fair in September.
Situated between the Tregor and the Goelo, the town of Pontrieux has been classified “Small Town of Character in Bloom”, and is home to fifty restored “lavoirs” (traditional washeries), that the local boatmen will be happy to show you in the holiday season. Not far away, those who appreciate fine, traditional architecture can admire the Runan parish close, which in the past attracted thousands of pilgrims. The Roche Jagu chateau at Ploezal is a fine example of further remains. Its park grounds are open all year, and they offer an unrivalled view over the river Trieux. As for sports fans, and nature lovers, everything is in place to satisfy their appetite : fishing, walks, mountain-biking, canoe-kayaking, horse-riding….so why not cast your anchor overboard at Pontrieux?
EXPLORING THE INDUSTRIAL AND HISTORICAL HERITAGE OF BELLE-ISLE-EN-TERRE & CHATELAUDREN
The Belle-isle-en-Terre region is located in the heart of a forested area bursting with footpaths, horse-riding trails, and mountain-bike tracks. Its rivers, the Guic and the Leguer are also highly prized by trout and salmon fishermen. The two countryside centres – the Centre of introduction to the river, and the Forest centre, will help you to expand what you know regarding the flora and fauna in their contrasting environments. Also open to the public is The Paper-mills Valley, a spot rich in memories of the past. On the edge of the Coat An Noz forest, at one time inhabited by wolves, many architectural treasures are waiting to be explored from Louargat to Plougonver, passing through Begard, Gurunhuel, Treglamus, and Loc Envel. Further east, take time to pay a visit to Chatelaudren which thanks to the siting of the “Petit Echo de la Mode”, was at one time the second most important centre of French fashion.
The Guingamp region returns to its roots every year by means of the Saint Loup and the “Bugale Breizh” festivals. You can also visit the Chateau de Pierre II and its ramparts (15th century), overlooking the Trieux Valley which in previous centuries was full of mills. The Notre Dame de Bon Secours basilica with its complex architecture – a Gothic northern section with several Roman arcades, the Renaissance section housing the sanctuary of the Black Virgin. The Place du Centre (the town square), signifies the popular heart of Guingamp - a genuine Breton town. Timbered houses, granite facades and carved doors, and site of the famous Plomee fountain. Free guided visits in July and August. Pedestrian access to the banks of the Trieux.
Bourbriac is home to three classified monuments : the Tanouedou burial mound, the Kerivoa vault dating from the Bronze Age, and the Saint Briac church. There are five other buildings that are included on the register of historical monuments – the Danouet chapel (14-16th century),the Danouet “Croix du Chemin”, the Saint Houarneau chapel (16-19th century), the Saint Houarneau calvary (16th century), the Lezarz manor (16-17th century), the latter being located on private property as is the feudal mound of Koz Kastel and the Helloc’h manor. Also worth a visit are the Kerivoa standing stone, the St Briac fountain, the Penity, Pempinot and Bodfo chapels, and the turret of Koat Liou. The Danouet plinn festival held on the weekend of August 15th, is a major draw for fans of Breton dancing.
Animal lovers will be fascinated by the story of the horse Naous whose bronze statue takes pride of place near the Callac mayor’s office. The major town of the Argoat region, Callac is also home to the Breton spaniel whose breeders offer guided visits as well as dog-training sessions. In addition to this, there exists a spaniel museum in the town square which is open to the public. Callac also boasts an impressive lake, rampart remains and the burial mound of Saint Trefin, as well as the village of Botmel. The whole region however, contains sites of note and impressive old-stone structures : the Saint Jean Baptiste chapel, the Saint Servais church and bread-making oven, the chambered tomb at Lohuec, the Rosvilliouet chateau, and the chambered burial site of Toul An Urs at Duault, the Mound of Rospelem, and the Valley of Saints at Carnoet, the Saint Jean church at Plourac’h…a little further south there is Locarn which is worth a short detour to see the Corong gorge, with its moors and its Heritage Museum (“Maison de patrimoine”).
Why not plan a stay on the edge of the Tregor, combining nature, tradition and well-being? The Trieux and Jaudy rivers, and their tributaries the Donant and the Perrier, come into contact with numerous footpaths and sunken tracks. Dominated by the Menez Bre, the last mountain in the Monts d’Aree, the Begard area is spoilt for choice when it comes to leisure activities : river fishing, mountain-biking, golf, Swingolf…and for the family, the “Amoripark” – a park combining water activities, flower displays, animals and many more attractions..you’re guaranteed a great day out, whether with family or friends.
ROSTRENEN – HOME OF THE FISEL DANCE AND THE CLARINETTE
The Rostrenen region hosts the Festival of the Clarinet at Glomel, and the Fisel Festival at Rostrenen. The Fisel Festival for lovers of Breton dancing takes place on the last weekend of August. The Notre-Dame pardon takes place at Rostrenen on the weekend of August 15th, along with horse-racing at the hippodrome – an event that has been going for more than 140 years. The market is held every Tuesday. The Notre-Dame church built around 1295 on the site of manorial chapel, was altered during the 18th and 19th centuries. It possesses a porch that is half-Gothic and half-Renaissance, and is a classified historical monument. Also worth a visit is the Lokmaria chapel and the Manor of Kampostal.