Josselin, Brittany: tourism & sightseeing
Visit Josselin (Brittany, France)
Josselin is in the Morbihan department of central Brittany, betwen Rennes (to the east) and Vannes (to the south-west). It is a very pleasant town to visit in a lovely setting on the Oust river and Nantes-Brest canal overlooked by a castle. the town is listed as a 'small city of character'.
Start your visit in the historical centre of Josselin, where the main highlights are the narrow streets lined with half-timbered medieval houses, and the important basilica. The Basilica Notre dame du Roncier was originally built in the 11th century in the roman style, but most of what we see today is a subsequent reconstruction in the Flamboyant gothic style - as seen in the gargoyles around the side. Continue to the rear of the church, opposite the Mairie, and you can enter the belltower from here and climb to the top for some lovely views over the town, the canal and the castle. Be warned - there are over 100 steps.
On the same square as the cathedral, one of the finest medieval buildings in Josselin is the substantial red and white half-timbered house at the top of the Place Notre-Dame, while others can also be seen in the other historic streets around the centre. The Office of Tourism in Josselin on rue des Trente is in one of the half-timbered houses.
Walk downhill from the basilica and you will walk past an entrance to the castle and on to the canal. Walk along the canal a little way for some spectacular views of the castle.
It is Josselin chateau that is a highlight of the town, and helps draws the crowds. The castle was originally built around the 11th century, but underwent substantial transformation during the 17th century to make it more comfortable as living accommodation, and again a few decades later when a significant part of the original structure was demolished, but it remains a very imposing castle.
A little sombre in appearance on the canal-side, the castle has three large round towers to break up the appearance, and also an unattached prison tower (originally the castle had nine towers in all). The side of the castle away from the river is more decorative following the renaissance period changes, and there is a lot of interesting stonework and carving around the doors and windows. The castle is still owned and inhabited by the Rohan family, who originally built it.
The interior of the chateau features furnishings dating from the 17th to 19th century, with the grand fireplaces being a particular feature. The gardens at Josselin Chateau are another highlight of a visit - well maintained and worth visiting, and featuring a 'French style' garden and an 'English style' garden. Also in the grounds of the chateau there is a dolls museum containing over 3000 dolls. The castle is open for guided visits from April to October.
Return to the canal for a pleasant stroll along the banks below the chateau, then cross the bridge for a stroll around the 'Sainte-Croix' region of Josselin.
The Sainte-Croix quarter is the oldest part of town and Rue Sainte-Crooix used to be the main commercial street of the town. Notice the stone benches that were once used as stalls by the shopkeepers. The Sainte-Croix chapel was built in the 11th century and was part of a group of religious and farm buildings owned by the Priory of Sainte Croix. Only the nave of the chapel and the house at number 5 remain from that time.
Head back over the canal and up Rue du Val d'Ouest . Where this meets Rue Glatinier you can see an unusual wooden house built in 1602. The whole house is covered in wood and there are only a few houses of this style in the hole of Brittany.
Although the town is perhaps smaller than you might expect from the size of the castle, the centre is very pretty and very pleasant to explore.
Attractions close to Josselin
There are several picturesque woodlands close by where you can enjoy the peaceful environment of central Brittany, such as in the Bois d'Amour close to the town, or in the historic Broceliande Forest, one of the last remaining parts of the extensive forests that once covered most of this region.
Map of Josselin and places to visit
Visit near Josselin with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Morbihan
Josselin is classified as a recommended place to break a long journey (village d'etape)
Address: Josselin, Pontivy, Morbihan, Brittany, 56120, France || GPS: latitude 47.956, longitude -2.547
Josselin reviews and comments
Josselin castle is open at different times during the year - check out http://www.chateaujosselin.fr/en/ for the times and more information
Josselin, France Rating: 5/5 Reviewed by Tourist Office on
Plan your visit to Josselin, Brittany
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Elven: village d'etape (25km)
- Source - Rivière de Noyalo: site of natural beauty (28km)
- Forêt de Paimpont: site of natural beauty (29km)
- La Vraie-Croix: ville fleurie 4* (30km)
- Rochefort-en-Terre: ville fleurie 4* (33km)
Market days in Josselin, France
Regular market(s) are held in Josselin each Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Josselin (Francais)