The dolls’ house
Josselin is a must-visit on any tour of the Breton heartlands. From its medieval castle, still lived in by members of the legendary Rohan family, to the doll museum, and from its attractive old town to canal-based fun or forest walks, there’s something to interest all members of the family.
Overlooking the Oust Valley, Josselin’s castle has been in the Rohan family on and off for centuries. In fact, the town is named after the son of the viscount who built it. The castle, now owned by the only remaining branch of the Rohans, is open to the public from April to October. Visitors can admire the 19th-century dining room, the drawing room with its impressive 16th-century fireplace and the library housing more than 3,000 volumes dating from the 17th century. Around the castle are French-style gardens with vast lawns and low hedges as well as a rose garden with 40 different species. The gardens host a Medieval Festival each year on 14th July.
Playing with dolls
Also in the castle grounds is a doll museum, which was opened in 1984 in the old stable block. The collection was started in the 19th century by the current owner’s great grandmother and now counts around 3,000 dolls and 2,000 other items including children’s toys and books. The museum puts on a different exhibition each summer.
On the town
Like many of Brittany’s towns, Josselin has its fair share of medieval half-timbered houses; the best examples are south of the Nantes-Brest canal in the Ste-Croix district. The main hub of activity is the town square next to the Gothic Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier – climb up to the top of the bell tower for panoramic views over the area. A lively market fills the surrounding streets on Saturday mornings.
Away from it all
The Nantes-Brest canal runs through Josselin and offers plenty of opportunities to get away from it all, whether you fancy strolling along the towpaths or hiring a boat for an hour or a day. The nearby Bois d’Amour (love wood) is a popular spot with families or keen walkers and cyclists could take the GR37 to join the voie verte (green way) from Mauron to Questembert.