Unique and breathtaking sculptures carved right into the granit rocks of the cliff, at the edge of the rough sea : you definitely don't want to miss out this hidden gem, when you visit Saint Malo.
By bike or by car, only a few minutes drive from the ramparts along the seashore will lead you to the most astonishing point of view, in Rotheneuf. Walking on the rocks, you will suddenly notice that you are not alone : men and women, knights, priests, dogs, cows and even a sea dragon inhabit the stones around you...
This is the work of a priest from the 19th century, l'Abbé Fouré, who was also a painter and wood sculptor. At age 55, Abbe Foure suffered a stroke, which left him without hearing and speech ; as a result, he decided to retreat as a hermit in the cliffs of Rotheneuf. He spent the last 15 years of his life (from approximately 1894 to 1910) shaping the granite to create more than 300 statues of strange and grotesque faces and characters. The priest took his inspiration from various sources : religious myths as well as pagan legends and tales, but also from the notable events of his time. He represented the story of the Rotheneuf, a local family of fishermen who lived in the 16th/17th centuries. They became pirates and established their domination in the region by smuggling over most of the Emerald Coast, gathering an immense fortune (as the legend has it) before being chased during the French Revolution. The ensemble also features the French explorer and navigator Jacques Cartier, as well as famous Breton saints, such as Saint Budoc.
All these stories inspired Abbé Fouré to create this incredible sculpture garden, which covers a 550m2 area and remains untouched until today, despite of the assaults of the angry waves and the heavy tides eroding the carvings. The signs of progressive wear over those faces of stone, gives even more strength and mystery to their expression, conveying the beauty of natural decay.
You will find the Rotheneuf Carved Rocks on the headland located between Le Val and Le Havre beaches, near Le Benetin restaurant. The Rotheneuf municipality decided not to promote this unique site, mainly due to the necessity to save the place from an excessive flow of tourists, which would harm the sculptures. This makes this small cliff one of the best hidden secrets on the Emerald Coast. You are of course very welcome to visit, but visitors should be extremely careful while strolling among the sculptures.
For opening hours and further information, consult their official website : https://www.saint-malo-tourisme.com/decouvrir/l-histoire/culture-et-patrimoine/patrimoine/les-rochers-sculptes-1567560
Like this story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.