Les Roches du diable
The boulders balanced alarmingly on top of each other at the gorges on the Ellé River north of Quimperlé are known as The Devil’s Rocks. The diabolical name derives from a legendary battle fought here. While canoeists now struggle with the rapids, walkers take in the spectacular scenery at more peaceful pace.
Saint takes on Satan
Why the name of The Devil’s Rocks? The story goes that Saint Guénolé, a heroic figure from Dark Ages Brittany, heard that Satan reigned along the banks of the Ellé – the very name of the river may come from the Breton word for hell, ‘Ellez’. The determined religious man decided he was going to establish Christianity here and kick out the devil. Satan, also known in Brittany as the sweeter-sounding Paolic, was enraged, and when Guénolé arrived, rained down great blocks of stone on him. But making the sign of the cross, Guénolé managed to make the boulders miss him. Then the saint took on Satan in hand-to-hand combat. The marks of the devil’s claws are supposedly to be seen in the rocks, but he lost… The Trou du Diable is a hole where the devil supposedly disappeared. No one has ever apparently measured how deep it goes.
A more tranquil side
For walkers, the expedition to see Les Roches du Diable should prove somewhat less challenging. First, seek out signs for the sight, near Locunolé, on the border between Finistère and Morbihan. Then, following the Ellé’s west bank, a steep, winding path leads to a dramatic viewing platform. Or, on the other bank, you can follow the riverside track more easily. Either way, the natural drama of this wooded valley with its acrobatic boulders tumbling down to the waters below stirs the imagination.
The waters flowing through these dramatic gorges can become quite wild at times, presenting a challenge even to experienced canoeists. Some major canoeing competitions have in fact been held here. The Ellé has normally calmed down by the time it joins the Isole River at lovely historic Quimperlé not far downstream. Hire a canoe to enjoy the scenery around town.
Did you know?
The Quimperlé tourist office has even organized guided canoeing tours of town as an original way to appreciate the place!
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