We visited some of the most haunted locations in Brittany to discover their stories.
The French region of Brittany is well known for its abundant legends. From megalithic standing stones to tales of sorcerers and fairy folk, the region’s vibrant countryside has a strong oral tradition of paranormal folklore. Amongst its many mysteries are tales of ghosts, bound to significant locations, where they are whispered to have haunted the living for centuries.
5 – Forêt de Loudéac
The forest of Loudéac is one of the largest forests in the region. Thought to have once been part of a vast forest which covered ancient inland Brittany, the forest’s dense woodland arguably makes it the perfect place to conceal a crime… And certainly, such a nefarious deed was attempted in 1710, when a quarrel between two rivals ended in death.
An entry in the local parish register from 11th December 1710 records how a twenty-one year old man called Jan Jan was convicted of the murder of Pierre le Roy. Pierre’s body was found at the foot of an oak tree deep within the forest of Loudéac, after having been lured there by his friend, Jan Jan. The two, it was claimed, were in love with the same woman. Jealous and angered by his rival, Jan Jan acted on drunken impulse, and stabbed Pierre to death. He hoped that the forest would conceal his dark deed, however, Pierre’s body was later discovered, and his killer was arrested, tried and executed.
Today, if you visit the location of the terrible crime you will find five small holes in the forest floor. Local legend states that these holes are the very same ones created by Pierre’s lifeless body, as it lay there, waiting to be discovered. The holes are said to have been caused by the impact of his head, elbows and heels when he fell to the ground.
It is said that Pierre’s spirit still haunts the forest today, and that this anger at having lost his life so tragically has cursed the very area of his demise. Local people warn that the five holes in the ground should not be covered or blocked at the risk of meeting a terrible end within a year.
Local media has reported that several years ago legend met reality when a local man died suddenly after visiting this supposedly cursed area of the forest. The man and a friend were drinking late at night in the forest, when – gripped by bravado – he decided to plug one of Pierre’s holes. When he died shortly afterwards, his friends and family blamed the curse.
Eerily, the French National Office of Forests has erected a barrier around the holes to prevent anyone from getting too close, as well as a sign which warns visitors of the legendary curse. 1
How to get there: On the N164, take the D700 exit for Loudeac. At the 1st roundabout take the 1st exit. At the 2nd roundabout take the 3rd exit. Now follow the signs for the forest of Loudeac. Once in the domaniale of the forest, drive past the forestry office until you reach the Croisée du Parc aux chevaux. Now on foot, with your back to the road, take the path on your right, marked by a field gate. Follow this path for a few hundred metres until you reach the le Gars-fut-tué on your left, marked by a sign and the fenced holes. Click here to view map.
4 – Chapelle du Ruellou
Just outside the village of Saint-Nicolas-du-Pélem, located at the end of a secluded road, is the Chapel of Ruellou.
Dating back to the sixteenth century 2, this chapel is known for being one of the few locations in Brittany that houses a Wheel of Fortune, a Medieval wheel original to Brittany, with bells at the end of each of its twelve spokes, which would be rung at joyous ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms. A site of religious and historic interest, the chapel is treasured by local people.
Yet, some residents of the village regard Ruellou Chapel and its Wheel of Fortune in a different light. A focus of superstition, the bell-adorned wheel is rumoured to attract those wishing to perform covert rituals, during which the wheel would be used to make vows intended to heal critical illnesses.
On the evening of 4th October 1964, at around 9pm, several people – described as being odd-looking in local legend – arrived at the nearby farm asking if they could have the key to the chapel. For the next five hours a loud noise was supposedly heard coming from the chapel. An unnaturally bright light was also seen shining out of the building’s windows. At around two o’clock the next morning the noise stopped abruptly and the light went out. Those at the farm who had witnessed this unusual event did not dare ask what had happened out of fright. 3
Whilst the group of people who visited that night were never seen again, ever since there have been rumours of supernatural manifestations at the chapel. Strange sounds and bright lights are said to leak out from the building’s old stone walls on occasion. Some have even suggested that whatever happened at the chapel that night in 1964 affected the site, changing it forevermore. Was the Chapel of Ruellou the site of a nefarious paranormal ritual?
How to get there: Take the D5 south, away from Saint-Nicolas-du-Pélem, until you see a sign on your left for the Chapelle du Ruellou. The chapel is located at the end of a short driveway. Click here to view map.
3 – Château de Rustéphan
In the 12th century, the son of the Duke of Brittany named Étienne built a castle to serve as a hunting lodge on the outskirts of a dense forest in the parish of Nizon. The entire area used to be covered with thick forests and so abounded in hunting game. As time progressed the castle became more frequented and in the 15th century was renovated and turned into the magnificent Château de Rustéphan.
After this, the château hosted many great festivals. It became customary for villagers to gather on the grassy space in front of the chateâu at night, where they would eat and dance together. However, over time the celebrations gained an ominous aura. At night, sparkling ghostly eyes were said to pierce out through the darkness from what looked like the bald head of a priest. Villagers also reported seeing a coffin appear in the great hall, illuminated by four white candles. The spirit of a young woman has also alleged to be visible on moonlit nights, strolling the château, sometimes singing, sometimes weeping.
These series of spectral sightings are said to be connected to a true tragedy dating to the sixteenth century. The fate of two young lovers, Geneviève du Faou and Yannick Le Flecher, was doomed by their social standing. When Geneviève, the daughter of a local nobleman, fell in love with a commoner, Yannick, her father forbade the union, forcing her lover to become ad priest and leave the area. The nobleman’s actions broke his daughter’s heart, condemning Geneviève to die of grief.
It is said that the spirit of the priest is Yannick, searching the château for his lost love. The weeping woman is claimed to be heartbroken Geneviève, with the coffin also hers, denoted by the four white candles which were customarily used at the death of noble girls.
When the apparitions began to manifest, the château started to become abandoned. Despite its once splendid history, the villagers took their festivities elsewhere and learned to keep away from the château. During the French revolution the building was seized and sold as national property, and would afterwards be quarried for stone for more than a hundred years. Slowly, the building fell into ruin, until it became what it is today, two crumbling, disconnected towers, being devoured by the forest it once claimed dominion over. Now, the only trace of its colourful history are the spirits which are said to haunt the remains at night. 4
How to get there: The Château de Rustéphan is situated in the hamlet of Rustéphan. Click here to view map.
2 – Tertre-Feuillet
Crosses and crucifixes are common sights in Brittany, frequently found in the centre of towns and villages, as well as on roadsides near clustered, rural homesteads. Erected over the centuries by local communities, these monuments are a testament to Brittany’s once formidable religious past.
Nowadays, these abundant crosses are largely overlooked. Yet, there are still some which have a special reputation – if only for ominous reasons. On a road at a distance away from the village of Gomené are the Tertre-Feuillet, three stone crosses which stand on an isolated heath surrounded by coarse vegetation.
The centre cross dates back to the Middle Ages, the other two having been added at a later date. Their unusual isolation is explained in local legend: supposedly, the first cross was placed there to ward off evil. Presumably, it did not work, with a trio considered to be more powerful to fend off malevolent forces. For those who approach the crosses during the daytime, they project a mystical aura. For those who approach at night, they exude a more sinister atmosphere.
A sign close to the crosses explains that every night since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, a spectral figure can be seen lurking at the site. Dressed in a long coat, with eyes concealed by the shadow cast by a wide-brimmed hat, this phantom is said to be a soldier, returned from battle to haunt the crosses. Described as a malevolent spirit, a poacher from the nearby village decided to confront the entity one moonlit night. For the poacher, the encounter ended in the worst possible way.
Now, it is said that both spirits haunt the crosses. By the light of the full moon the poacher reappears, trapped in the moment of his demise, doomed to linger alongside the dark entity which took his life. 5
How to get there: Head to the centre of Gomené, located south of the N164. At the crossroads take rue du Lavoir, the road opposite the Mairie’s building. At the entrance to this road there is also a blue sign for the Tertre-Feuillet. Keep following this road until you see the three crosses, situated alongside the road, on your left. Click here to view map.
1 – Marais de Kerzo
Throughout the centuries blood has soaked the area around the marshes of Kerzo. During the Hundred Years War, the bloody Battle of Auray was fought between the English-backed Breton forces against a French-reinforced Breton army, for supremacy over what was then the independent Duchy of Brittany. The marshes bogged down the heavily armoured knights of the French, as the English longbowmen’s arrows continuously met their mark. The blood of the dead soaked into the muddy ground beneath. 6 In 1795 and 1815, bloodshed visited the area again, when French royalist forces were defeated by the revolutionary republican and Imperial armies of France. 7
In 1829 a grand chapel was erected by the King of France to commemorate the martyrs who gave their lives for his cause. Solemn on an open field which overlooks the marshes, the chapel stands as a temple on the hallowed ground, which to this day is supposedly haunted by the spirits of the fallen.
Local legend tells of how the lives lost in the conflicts have seeped into the marshes, imprinting the land with a curse. The soldiers are believed to be trapped in the sinister grasp of the unnatural place, living out the moment of their deaths over and over again.
There are reports of witnesses having encountered an otherworldly haze descending upon the marshes. Some have even claimed that the tormented souls of the soldiers have physically attacked people as they walk by the site of their death. The restless spirits of the soldiers are then not only claimed to be reliving their last moments, but also seeking new victims to fuel their bloodlust.8
How to get there: To view the marshes of Kerzo head to the Champ-des-Martyrs in Brech. North of Auray, take the D768 and follow signs to the Champ-des-Martyrs. There is a large carpark which leads to the Chapelle expiatoire du Champ-des-Martyrs. The marshes can be seen alongside the chapel’s field. Click here to view map.
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