Foret de Broceliande, a magical forest

The Foret de Broceliande is the setting of the Arthurian tradition.

It’s the magical and mythical forest where Merlin the Wizard and the Fairy Vivian lived.

Arthurian Legend - Excalibur in Broceliande
Excalibur in Broceliande

However, its location seemed to have been uncertain for centuries.

Some indeed believed that the mythical Foret de Broceliande was modern day Forêt de Forge near Saint-Brieuc.

However, the Forêt de Paimpont was officially accepted as the correct location during the 19th century.

The origin of its name doesn’t help to narrow the search though!

The old version of Broceliande was Brecheliant, a name that evolved from the Celtic Brec’h meaning hill.

But, there are so many hills in Brittany…

The Anglo-Norman poet Robert Wace was the first to name it in one of the poems he wrote in 1160, Le Roman de Rou.

The other issue is that two thousand years ago a vast forest covered the whole of inland Brittany or Argoat.

Trail in Foret de Broceliande
One of the trails

That said, modern day Foret de Paimpont seems to be an ideal location for Broceliande!

Century-old oaks and beeches indeed draw their vital essence from the granite and red schist of its soil.

Endless trails, ancient burial mounds and megaliths erected during the Neolithic punctuate the dense forest.

The memory of the ancient people who built them is lost in the dust of time.

However, Local folks created countless legends through the centuries in order to justify their presence.

The dense Foret de Broceliande – Paimpont was therefore an ideal setting for the Arthurian Legend.

The Celts of Cornwall, driven out of their country by the Angle and Saxon invaders, certainly thought so.

They landed on the shore of Brittany in the 5th century AD, and brought with them their culture and their Christian beliefs.

Forêt de Paimpont

The Foret de Broceliande – Forêt de Paimpont is a superb forest.

Cromlech - magical circle in Foret de Broceliande
Cromlech – magical circle

It is protected, so there are no snack bars and stalls selling greasy chips nor souvenir shops selling tasteless gadgets!

Instead, you’ll find a set of marked paths that will lead you, at your pace, to the discovery of the  various archaeological and legendary sites.

The paths are signed, but sometimes you’ll think that you missed the turn as they are quite spaced.

You’ll have to read your maps, take your bearings and find the signs that blend in their surrounding.

You’ll have to follow the shady trails that plunge in the deep of the forest to discover its secrets hidden among lakes, fountains or ancient trees that protect the magic of the place.

Trail sign in Foret de Broceliande
Follow the trail signs

Here everything comes across as a rite of passage.

When you’ll ask your way to the locals, they’ll reply:

“You will find if you know what to look for…”

It is absolutely magical.

As you’ll progress along the trails, you’ll feel that you slowly set foot in a parallel dimension.

The paths cross trails, follow the declivity of the terrain up and down gentle slopes and split in a clearing.

Discover the magical Forêt de Brocéliande’s other sites :

Tombeau de Merlin, Fontaine de Jouvence, Chêne des Hindrés, Château de Comper, Chêne d’Eon or Chêne à Guillotin, Fontaine de Barenton, Jardin aux Moines, Eglise du Graal in Tréhorenteuc, Miroir aux Fées and Arbre d’Or in the Val Sans Retour, Hostié de Viviane or Tombeau des Druides, Tombeau des Géants ou Roche à la Vieille, Abbey of Paimpont, Forges de Paimpont and Pierres Droites and the Arthurian Legend

Department of Ille-et-Vilaine
Coordinates Paimpont – Foret de Broceliande: Lat 48.020903 – Long -2.170572

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