Day in a life: Excursion to Roche Aux Fées and Fougères

Programs for this blog post

Liberal Arts

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CIEE Rennes

As part of the CIEE Rennes program, we go on cultural excursions together. These are awesome
chances to learn about and experience the local culture firsthand! And, they allow us to travel to
places together that we might not have known about otherwise. Come join me as I go on one of our program's excursion! 

My day started at around 9:00 when I headed to the meeting point and met my CIEE group for
our bus ride. On the bus, we all got to catch up, sleep a little, and look at the beautiful French

About 40 minutes later, We arrived at our first destination, Roche aux fées!

Roche aux fées is a Neolithic gallery grave, which essentially means it was a large stone structure
that at one point was a burial site (around 3000 and 2500 BC). Back in the day of its use, a
structure like that would’ve been covered in stone, but now, the earth has weathered away,
leaving a formidable skeleton of more than 40 large stone blocks. The structure itself is just over 65 feet
long (20 meters), and the heaviest stone weighs around 45 tons. The legend behind the structure's
name; in English, “Fairy Rock,” is that the stones were put into place by fairies.

Whether there’s a real influence of fairies or not– the location certainly felt magical. We had time
to explore the monument and do a couple of scavenger-hunt like games together to help us learn
about its history. While the others were running around trying to count all the rocks in the
sculpture or find the heaviest stone; I hung back a bit. I could feel the history all around me, and
I wanted to take the time to let it soak in. I walked slowly through the structure, imagining what
it was once like during its time of use. I studied everything from the moss on the stones to the
way the sun shone through the cracks. I was rewarded for my close observation: I found that
people; over the years, have carved little messages into the stone! How cool! Years of history
coming together in one place!

After our exploration time, we got back on the bus and headed north to our next destination: the
town of Fougères. After getting off the bus, we made the trek to the public garden for our picnic
lunch. Situated on a hill with a stunning view of the town below and directly behind a
Gothic-style church, the garden was beautiful from all angles. Not a bad place to eat lunch!

After our lunch, we had a bit of free time, so me and my friends ordered galette-saucisses
(Sausages wrapped in a galette! A Breton classic!) and then headed to a café to wait out our
downtime. The rest of the people in our group met up with us later, and we all headed to the star
of our day: the castle of Fougères.

The first thing you feel when you come face to face with the giant fortress of Fougères is awe.
The castle is made up of multiple stone towers and the walls that connect them, and surrounded
by a loop of the Nançon River that acts as a natural moat. The castle was a big part of Brittany’s
defense system, and it is one of the largest, most well-preserved medieval fortresses in Europe!
The group and I got to go on a walking tour of the fortress with other curious visitors, and then
we had plenty of free time to explore. On the inside of the castle, there were real artifacts, works
of art, and informational videos and plaques to help visitors learn about the history of the castle.
That all was awesome, but I have to say, my favorite part was the view from the top.

Around two hours later, our tour was finished and we started to head back to the bus– not
without a quick stop to buy a postcard, though. We ended our trip tired (from climbing all those
stairs) but happy because of all the cool things we got to experience that day.

Shannon SCHULZ 

Oberlin College 

CIEE-Rennes LA Spring 2024