©Nicolas Dequin

Halloween in Brittany: five places to shiver in delight

Small stories and big thrills in five Breton sites

Hollow out lanterns in vegetables. Put candles inside to ward off evil spirits: since the time of the Celts, the end of October has been an exceptional time in Brittany when the visible joins the invisible. It’s the celebration of Samhain, marking the beginning of the dark season, or “Kala goanv” in Breton – still called that in Finistère: the Calends of winter. A few days before the celebration, follow us through sites steeped in legend and haunted castles. Once upon a time, in the West…

In the blink of an eye

1. White lady and green magic

Brocéliande Forest

Real, supernatural? In this mythical forest at the heart of Brittany, everything is intertwined! Bathing in the atmosphere thanks to the Porte des Secrets walking show, you’ll dive into the heart of the matter. First in Trécesson*, one of the most beautiful castles in the region, with its moats full of calm water… and where ghosts reign supreme. One example is the Bride, or the White Lady, buried alive in the gardens: she has haunted the villages of Campénéac, Augan and the forest for 250 years. If you walk through the forest, you’ll come across the tombs of Merlin and the Giant, magical sources, and more. You’ll also adventure into the Valley of No Return, the realm of the fairy Morgane, who can be quite touchy. The last people who upset her were locked up for eternity. Think about that before starting an enchanted walk in one of the loveliest parts of the forest!

* The castle itself is not open, but the outside can easily be approached and admired.

Where to sleep:

2. Black cat and peg leg

Château de Combourg (35)

Clack, clack… Who is making these insistent steps on the stairs of one of the Castle‘s towers? The Count of Combourg, of course… who died over 300 years ago. His wooden leg haunts the castle every night, accompanied by a black cat. The mummified body of a cat was actually found in a secret staircase in this majestic stone gem! Sensitive souls, stay away: the body of the cat is exhibited in the room that Chateaubriand occupied as a child. The writer told of his sleepless nights, listening out, paralysed by fear: miaow, clack, clack… Visitors watch out: Don’t get locked in the Cat’s Tower!

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3. A stroll in the land of Ankou

Monts d’Arrée (29)

In the heart of Brittany, there is a land with mysterious changing lights. The craggy landscapes of Monts d’Arrée are the birthplace of hair-raising legends: the Gates of Hell in the Yeun-Elez marsh, under Brennilis lake. This is the home of the korrigans and Ankou, the grim reaper. The skeleton with a black hat is everywhere; just look closely at the churchyards, chapels, fonts… Can you hear wheels creaking in the distance? He’s coming. You’re in trouble. Before ending up at the bottom of the cart, dash off for a walk to Botmeur, with the Addes association. Storytellers will guide adults and children through the Monts. Worthy of particular mention is the Ankou nocturnal walk, with pumpkin soup afterwards: much appreciated for putting yourself back together after all the emotion!

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4. The castle with a ghost of a child

Suscinio, in Sarzeau (56)

On summer nights, when the majestic Suscinio castle in the Gulf of Morbihan puts on its sound and light show to relate its history, there is someone who joyfully causes trouble in the attic… The ghost of a six-year-old boy. He was the son of the right-hand man of the Duke of Brittany in the 15th century, and he has haunted the attics ever since. The local Casper is a prankster and regularly plays hide-and-seek with the guides, sometimes with visitors, but never frightening them. Can you here the child’s voice, the groaning sounds? And can you see the lamp there? It’s as if it came on all by itself. A little glimpse into the afterlife…

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5. The ship wreckers on the Côte des Légendes

The Ménéham hamlet, in Kerlouan

In the Northern Finistère, between Brest and Roscoff, it is said that a small seaside village populated with fishermen and seaweed collectors knew how to make the most of the gifts offered by the sea after a storm… Legend says that in Ménéham, the inhabitants would do everything they could for the boats out at sea to come crashing on the shore; they then turned into merciless, bloodthirsty plunderers. You get the mood. Today, we promise a pleasant stop in this ever-so-pretty hamlet nestled between the rocks: a programme of lights, surprises and cucurbits (from the gourd plant family) is reserved just for you!

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Official website of tourism in Brittany