The Pigeon Cote
Pigeonniers of France: Brittany
Day 3: Dinan and vicinity
We started the day by going to Jugon les lacs, to see what a vide grenier was. We had seen it advertised in a leaflet as happening today. We found that it was a flea market, which might have been fun except that it was so popular that there was nowhere in the village to park. So we reverted to our original plan for the day, which was to visit Dinan and the dovecotes in the area noted in Colombiers et Pigeonniers en Bretagne Profonde.
Dinan is most certainly a charming town, with some lovely churches, old buildings, town square, and also a nearly complete wall around the old center. As any worthwhile tourist should, we took the time to walk around the walls and take in the village. To our pleasant surprise, we found a charming park with deer, chickens, pheasants, and yes, pigeons.
Dovecote in Taden
To begin our dovecote search for the day in earnest, we left by way of Taden, a village near Dinan. Taden was listed as having a dovecote from the 16th century on Rue Souquet, and a 15th century dovecote, the columbier de Conninais ou de la Grande Metaire. With just this limited information we thoroughly explored Taden and the vicinity. While we did locate a “dovecote” of sorts in Taden on the Rue Souquet, we were not successful in finding the other. The dovecote located on the Rue Souquet appears to have been built as a sort of turret into an old farm building, but the structure has long ago been converted to a home. All that visibly remains are the nesting holes scattered about the exterior wall of the tower, shown in the photograph. While the dovecote on the Rue Souquet may have been more elaborate at one time, it certainly was not now. A rather dismal beginning, considering we were not even able to locate the other older dovecote near Taden, and as it turned the other two on our agenda for the day as well.
Dovecote Lesturgant at Malguénac
The dovecote of Lesturgant at Malguénac would have been very interesting to find. Auffret reports that it is six sided with 600 nestholes and complete with potence. Although being almost 300 years old, he reports that the dovecote is in a remarkable state of conservation. The potence, a rotating ladder designed to assist in the harvest, is very unusual being supported by a round stone in the shape of a grinding stone, that itself is supported by a granite base. A large round stone in the shape of a grinding stone to serve as the potence's base is not all that unusual as can be seen at kergournadeac'h. It may well be that these were in fact a logical re-use of a worn grinding stone. Perhaps the additional stone in this instance was placed there because the "grinding" stone's base center hole was larger that the main pole used for the potence. However, for whatever the reason, having yet another stone placed on top of the round one certainly is unusual. Eight sided dovecotes such as La Gravelle and Ville Meneuc in Saint Lormel we were to find, but this hexagon one eluded us. It is dated 1697, being a rather new addition to the manor, which dates back to 1570. It is located 8km west of Pontivy. The dovecote is built on a terrace behind the old manor that overlooks and dominates the valley of Blavet.
Dovecote of the Manor of Du Gros Chene
The Manor of Du Gros Chene near Pontivy is also called Manor de la Villue Neuve. The manor house has nest holes built into the exterior manor house itself, more similar to Balangeard house than the one at Taden. The nestholes lie in three tiers just below the attic windows. The manor, designed by Guillaume Jouannic, is quite old, dating from the 15th century, and is now part of the agricultural college. This should have made it quite easy to find, and as an added bonus quite accessible too, but alas, it was not to be.
Day four turned out to be much more successful, locating the dovecotes at La Garaye and La Gravelle near Dinan.