Châtelaudren, in the valley of the river Leff, is poised between the coast and the countryside. Granite, water and metal all come together in Châtelaudren, which means it’s not only a town packed with history, but a place where you can relax and enjoy the water, and a site with an amazing industrial heritage.
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Between Guingamp and Saint-Brieuc, the houses of Châtelaudren stand in tiers along the banks of the river Leff. This small town of character no longer has its citadel, but it has preserved some wonderful traces of its trading history and its role as a crossroads town. Inside the chapel of Notre Dame du Tertre, perched on the castle mound, you’ll find panelling painted in amazing colours. From the castle esplanade, which you reach by climbing a massive granite staircase, you can look down on the slate roofs. There are many 17th and 18th century houses, with remarkable skylights, carved in stone. Around the church of Saint-Magloire, the streets become narrower and the houses are closer together. Little squares are surrounded by houses with sharply angled or curved roofs.
Water, water everywhere
Lower down, the river is everywhere. Over the centuries, the course of the river Leff has been altered and hydraulic systems have been installed to protect the town, keep the mill wheels turning, and feed the wash houses and turbines. Its flow varies between that of a gentle brook, a lively waterfall and a peaceful lake. In the town itself the water attracts people who love the great outdoors and want a breath of fresh air, including walkers and sailors. The surface of the water is alive with sails and boats, while keen fishermen cast their lines for carp, tench and pike.
Did you know
Brittany’s Latin Quarter
A Parisian who was visiting the town was struck by the buzz he found in the streets around the church of Saint-Magloire, with their 60 shops and businesses. He dubbed this area ‘the Latin quarter’, and this nickname is still used today.
The fashion magazine that made a lasting imprint
The lake was also responsible for making Châtelaudren the second capital of the French fashion industry from 1920 to 1983! The magazine Le Petit Echo de la Mode installed its printing works in this Breton town, to take advantage of the river’s hydroelectric power. At its peak, as many as 250 people worked on the various publications. Dress patterns printed on large sheets of paper were also printed here. This example of industrial architecture is now a treasure of 20th century heritage. The riveted metalwork, cast iron machinery and brickwork create a stunning setting for what has become a centre of art and tourism.