Seeing Is Believing: Sculptured Rocks (Les Rochers Sculptés) In Brittany

Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
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If I hadn’t seen this for myself I wouldn’t have believed it. In the north-west part of France in an area called the Emerald Coast of Brittany, there are over 300 sculptured rocks that were chiseled by hand by a deaf and mute priest.  It is a little-known cliff in Rothéneuf, which is a town located just north of St. Malo. [A map is shown at the end of this post]. When you see the statues of people, the carvings of faces, and the chiseled shapes of animals, you will be as amazed as I was.  It is worth the trip to the Sculptured Rocks, also known as Les Rochers Sculptés.

Abbot Fouré

Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France

For over 13 years in the late 1800s there was a priest named Adolphe Julien Fouré (Abbot Fouré 1839-1910) who created hundred of figures into the granite cliffs in Rothéneuf. What is particularly unique with this situation was that Abbot Fouré was deaf, mute and partially paralyzed as a result of a stroke at the age of 30. He decided to live in Rothéneuf as a hermit and endured the temperamental weather in Brittany (fierce winds and constant rain) to complete his works of art using only a hammer and chisel.

The Legend

Legend has it that in the 16th century the Rothéneuf family fished for a living but eventually became pirates. Fouré’s carvings depict the characters, sea monsters, and stories associated with the pirate legend.

The Rochers Sculptés Site

Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France

There is an admission (2.5 Euros) to enter the area where the sculptures are and just keep in mind that there are NO railings and fences, so be very careful walking around the area. No flip slops! Wear something that has a decent tread. You won’t need hiking boots, but you do need to be careful.

After all, you are on a cliff and it can be steep. I was scared of falling (off the cliff) and proceeded cautiously. The sculptures are in one area on the cliff but at different levels. I was fortunate that it was not raining the day I went. There were only about half a dozen other people. Had there been more it might have felt crowded as the area on the cliff is not that big.

Also In The Area

Le Litterol near Rochers Sculptés
Le Litterol in Brittany

After you visit this area, you can take the trail to see more of La Littoral coastline or visit the Jacques Cartier museum which is located not far from the Rochers Sculptés area. Explorer Cartier, who gave Canada its name, was born in Rothéneuf and spent his last few years there. Sadly, I got there too late for their tour and was not able to do it independently. Guess I’ll have to go back.

Some Rochers Sculptés

Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
One of the figures at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
One of the figures at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France
Figure at Rochers Sculptés in Rothéneuf, France

If you’re interested in visiting Rochers Sculptés, get there sooner than later. I’m sure with the wind and water erosion, the sculptures may soon disappear.

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26 Comments

  1. Great post! This is really interesting and I’ll have to go the next time I’m in Brittany.

    Here’s a fun fact about St. Malo: The French explorer Bougainville departed from the port at St. Malo. He later established the first permanent settlement on the Falkland Islands, which is why they are called Îles Malouines in French – in honor of St. Malo.

    1. I didn’t realize that. Thanks for sharing the information. Love all the St. Malo connections including the one with Canada (Jacques Cartier!)

  2. Loved this post Jan! It’s so amazing to see what one man with multiple disabilities was able to accomplish and it’s not hard to see that he had a sense of humor as well. This looks like such fun and I can imagine that you loved your visit there. Thanks for the introduction to this place and you can be sure it’s been added to our must-see list!

  3. Wow, I just love quirky things like this, it really is spectacular that a person would want to create art from nature like this – wonderful post!

    1. I can’t really remember how I found out about this place. It’s not in tour books or widely written about, but I am certainly glad I went there.

  4. Abbot Fouré was quite talented and imaginative, for sure. I’d never heard about these sculptures or the history of the priest himself. Good point about getting there sooner rather than later!

    1. Don’t know how they’ll ever save all those figures from the elements. Will be sad to see them slowly disappear.

  5. Thanks for continuing to find unique places in France like this to pique my interest. I’m definitely adding this to my must-visit list. The sculptures alone would be worth seeing but the perseverance and determination to complete them despite his disabilities is admirable.

  6. Wow! I never heard of the sculptures in Brittany! The history and legends the sculptures depict are breathtakingly beautiful! What a talent the priest had and what a way to share it for generations to come!

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