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"A storm was coming, but the winds were still,
And in the wild woods of Broceliande,
Before an oak, so hollow, huge and old
It looked a tower of ivied masonwork,
At Merlin’s feet the wily Vivien lay."
~ Idylls of the King, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1859-1885
Uh oh, Arthurian scholars know that this means trouble! Knight-errants and ladies fair, behold the deep rich deep colours and beautiful dappling of lighter shadows inspired by the enchanted forest of Arthurian legend, Brocéliande! Featured in several medieval texts, this legendary forest provides the backdrop for the mythology specially related the characters of wizard Merlin, enchantress Morgan le Fay, the mysterious Lady of the Lake, and the Knights of the Round Table! First appearing in the Roman de Rou chronicle by Wace in 1160, Brocéliande is most commonly identified today with Paimpont forest in Brittany, France, known for its natural beauty, megalithic sites, and remarkable trees Brocéliande is most notably said to be the location of the tomb of Merlin, Morgan Le Fay's magical Vale of False Lovers (where knights unfaithful in love are imprisoned) and the faery fountain of Barenton! In one of the most retold of legends ... "there had come to Arthur's court a damsel of the Lady of the Lake her whose skill in magic, some say, was greater than Merlin's own; and the damsel's name was Vivien. She set herself to learn the secrets of Merlin's art, and was ever with him, tending upon the old man, and with gentleness and tender service, winning her way to his heart ; but all was a pretense, for she was weary of him and sought only his ruin, thinking it should be fame for her, by any means whatsoever, to enslave the greatest wizard of his age." Trouble ensues! Should you too venture into the forest deep, beware such sorceresses and enchantments. 🌲 🌳 🌲 🧚 ✨ 🪄
The Festival du Roi Arthur is a music festival held in Bréal-sous-Montfort, France over the next two days. Bréal-sous-Montfort is located in Brittany, in the outer southwest district of Rennes, near where is thought to be the Brocéliande woods of Arthurian legend, which many believe are part of Paimpont forest.
As Brocéliande, the forest and woods had a reputation in the Medieval imagination as a place of magic and mystery. It is the setting of a number of adventures in Arthurian legend, notably Chrétien de Troyes's Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, a story of knight-errantry, in which the protagonist Yvain is first rejected by his lady for breaking a promise, and subsequently performs a number of heroic deeds in order to regain her favor.
Additionally, locals claim that the tree in which the Lady of the Lake supposedly imprisoned Merlin can still be seen there today.
Other legendary spots within the forest from the more recent elaborations of Arthurian legends include:
Val sans Retour (Vale or Valley of No Return) - an enchanted land in which the powerful sorceress Morgan le Fay imprisons her lovers.
The Tomb of Merlin - a small mound with two large stones erected side by side, the end of a covered avenue of megaliths, dismantled centuries ago
The Fountain of Youth
Hotié de Vivianne - The castle of the Lady of the Lake
The Fountain of Barenton - where Merlin meets Viviane, the Lady of the Lake
The Château of Comper - home of the Lady of the Lake and the site of an exhibition on the Arthurian legends
The Church of the Holy Grail - a church dedicated to the legends of the Holy Grail
The colours in this tartan represent the forest's magic and mystery: three shades of green for the flora of the Val sans Retour, where Morgan le Fay trapped unfaithful men; blue for the wizard Merlin and Viviane, the Lady of the Lake; yellow for magic and the glow of the sun through the trees; and black for King Arthur.
For more history and lore about this magical forest, click the beautiful photo of Paimpoint Forest, for a beautifully photographed walking tour.