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"Broceliande! in the perilous beauty of silence and menacing shade, Thou art set on the shores of the sea down the haze of horizons untravelled, unscanned. Untroubled, untouched with the woes of this world are the moon-marshalled hosts that invade Broceliande."
~ Alan Seeger, Broceliande, 1916
Some believe that the enchanted Brocéliande woods of Arthurian legend may be those of Paimpont Forest, Brittany. This forest is reputed to be the site of many mysterious and magical incidents relating to Arthur, Merlin, the Lady of the Lake, and the Holy Grail. Amongst many remarkable oaks, beeches and conifers in this beautiful forest is an oak about 1,000 years old known as the chêne à Guillotin, where legend claims a priest named Pierre-Paul Guillotin took refuge there during the French Revolution, and continued to administer sacraments and blessings.
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.