23 March 2017 by Jane Mercer
Les Volets Rouges, Grand Fougeray, Ille et Vilaine, Brittany
If you are looking for a sunny area in France without travelling too great a distance you wouldn’t go far wrong by choosing Grand Fougeray; an unusually warm and sunny part of Brittany with a climate more typical of southern Vendée, enjoying more sun and less rainfall than nearby Rennes and Nantes.
Only 75 minutes’ drive from St Malo the area has many Mediterranean plant and animal species including hoopoes and mantis, and fields of peaches. The gently rolling landscape is rich in history and heritage and the people are welcoming and friendly.
Les Volets Rouges is one of three cottages in a renovated longère (long house) close to the river Vilaine and set in nearly two acres of gardens with a covered heated pool.
Mixing traditional and contemporary styles
The owners Lyn and Scott Chamberlain have worked hard to create a mix of traditional local style with contemporary, well designed interiors and a fully equipped kitchen. The house is light and spacious and very comfortable with antique and contemporary furniture complementing each other perfectly in the lounge which was converted from the ancient dairy.
On cooler evenings the wood burning stove will keep you cosy and there is a large TV and a selection of books and games so settle in with a glass of wine! In the morning open up the French doors and breakfast on the private terrace which leads to the orchard, lawns, wild flower meadow and shared play area.
Flexible accommodation options
Sleeping four in two bedrooms this is a perfect holiday base for a family but there is always the possibility of hiring the other two cottages (sleeping 7 and 9 respectively) for a large family gathering or for a group of friends with young children.
The local area, activities and amenities
This is a region criss-crossed with footpaths and cycle tracks, and rivers for canoeing, boating and fishing. There is also an abundance of delightful historic riverside villages with bars and crêperies such as La Gacilly with its annual art and photographic exhibition.
Local villages and markets
The nearby villages offer bars, bakeries, supermarkets and plenty of other local amenities. Further afield a visit to the Saturday market in the medieval quarter of Rennes is a must for foodies and people-watchers.
The smaller market on Mondays in Redon is also a delight and a pleasant morning can be spent wandering amongst the timber framed buildings or visiting the boat museum, while the village of Loheac has a car museum and Malansac has life-sized dinosaurs and free-ranging animals to enchant and entertain the children for hours.
Nantes, the Great Elephant and the Machines de l’Ile
But perhaps one of the most unique and impressive visits to make is to Nantes and the Machines de l’Ile, an artistic and cultural project based in the warehouses of the former shipyards.
The giant creatures, in particular the Great Elephant bring together the ‘imaginary worlds’ of Jules Verne and the mechanical universe of Leonardo Da Vinci and have to be seen to be believed!
Relaxing at the end of the day…
But when all of this sightseeing proves too much take a leaf out of Lyn and Scott’s book… They say they like nothing better than gently pedalling along the towpath to a riverside café – perhaps, after all, this is the perfect way to unwind!