Le Pays du Roi Morvan, site de la chapelle Sainte-Barbe- Le Faouët
Exploring Brittany’s chapels
Eight typical and captivating chapels
What would Brittany be without its chapels hidden away in the heart of the countryside or around the corner of a sunken lane? Centuries-old, they attract visitors as much for their unspoilt surroundings as for the beautiful treasures and works of art hidden inside. Here’s our pick of eight delightful chapels, boasting impressive rood screens, stunning frescoes or outstanding stained-glass windows.
1. The sumptuous decor of Sainte-Barbe
Le Faouët (56)
If you’re frightened of storms, Sainte-Barbe chapel is the best place to hide! Sainte-Barbe, who has given her name to Le Faouët’s place of worship, is believed to have power over fire and thunder. The chapel was built by a nobleman who was saved from a storm through her intervention. It has a fairy-tale appearance: hidden away deep in the woods, the chapel stands proud at the top of its stone steps. Inside the building you can admire the stained-glass windows and the vaulting, dating from the 16th century.
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2. Saint-Fiacre chapel: one of the finest rood screens in Brittany
Le Faouët (56)
Until the 1980s, visitors wanting to see Saint-Fiacre chapel had to go and fetch the key from a local person who lived some distance away. These days, you can look around the place on your own or take a group tour. If you like Flamboyant Gothic buildings, you’ll love Saint-Fiacre’s polychrome wooden rood screen, one of the finest in Brittany.
3. An impressive ‘danse macabre’ at Kermaria-an-Iskuit…
Kermaria-an-Iskuit chapel, founded in 1240, is a listed Historic Monument thanks to its striking ‘danse macabre’ fresco (dance of death), made up of 47 paintings. The king, the lover, the physician, the bourgeois and the pope: all these characters are mocked by the figure of Death who leads the dance. Built in the Gothic style, Kermaria-an-Iskuit offers many more surprises.
4. A chapel carved from the rock: Saint-Gildas
Bieuzy les eaux (56)
Standing on the banks of the Blavet, a small river that flows due south towards the sea at Lorient, Saint-Gildas chapel has the distinction of being built below a massive and formidable rock. According to legend, Saint Gildas and Saint Bieuzy established a place of worship here in the 6th century, when it was nothing more than a natural cave. An unusual and captivating place, which you can explore during the Art in the Chapels festival.
5. A typically Breton chapel : Notre Dame de Carmès
This chapel, a listed Historic Monument, is one of the most spectacular in Morbihan. Its spring was known to the Celts due to its medicinal properties. As well as its health benefits, Notre Dame de Carmès has plenty of other attractions. It has two impressive vaulted painted ceilings from the 15th and 18th centuries and carved and moulded roof-timbers that are typical of Breton buildings.
Notre Dame de Carmès
6. Notre Dame du Crann : from its stained-glass windows to its ‘pardon’
In the16th century, a noble who survived the plague had Notre Dame du Crann built to pay homage to the Virgin Mary. Many years later, visitors still enjoy its stained-glass windows depicting the Nativity, the Resurrection, the Last Supper and of course the Virgin Mary, among other subjects. It’s worth visiting this chapel when its ‘pardon’ is taking place. Every year, the people of Spézet gather on Trinity Sunday to present a sculpted mound of butter to the Virgin.
Notre Dame du Crann
7. Kerfons, where Gothic meets Renaissance
The style of this chapel is surprising. First destroyed during the war of succession of the Duchy of Brittany, Kerfons was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries and brilliantly combines the Flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance styles. When you’ve finished examining the polychrome wooden rood screen inside the chapel, you can enjoy walking on the trails that have been marked out around the building.
8. The sleeping Virgin in Notre Dame du Yaudet
After the destruction of a chapel in 1860, the Kerninon family asked for it to be rebuilt. Le Yaudet chapel is special because it’s one of three holy places in Brittany where you can see a statue of the sleeping Virgin Mary (the ‘Vierge couchée’). Here, you’ll find her sculpted in a bed perched three metres from the ground, above the altar. As you leave the chapel, take a deep breath; Le Yaudet estuary is in front of you, a timeless spot where you can enjoy walking on the various footpaths.
Notre Dame du Yaudet