X

EUROPEAN GARDEN HERITAGE NETWORK – EGHN

La Roche Jagu

The Park of La Roche Jagu is an outstanding work of contemporary landscaping art, inspired by the Middle Ages. It combines lush “Tregor” vegetation and creative landscaping. Visitors are entering an imaginary world of tales and legends.

Perched above the Trieux, the medieval Château de la Roche Jagu overlooks the valley, its garden gently sloping down to the river. Harmoniously blending built and planted features, the Domaine de la Roche Jagu is an inspirational and enchanting place to visit, a superb setting for tours, cultural events and nature-based activities.

The château is the last remaining in a chain of fortifications between Bréhat and Pontrieux, built from the 11th century onwards when river trade and agricultural land clearance developed. The architecture of the manor house, rebuilt in the 15th century, serves both defensive and domestic purposes. Listed as a historic building in 1930, La Roche Jagu is owned by the Conseil Général des Côtes d’Armor since 1958.

The verdant park was created after the original woodland was devastated by storms in 1987. Gardens of yesterday and today tempt and delight all the senses. Water is an omnipresent element. Edible and medicinal plants, a wide variety of exotic species and other garden features form a superb attraction.

The last remaining of a string of fortified sites built between Pontrieux and Bréhat, la Roche Jagu looks down from its battlements onto the banks of the River Trieux. At la Roche Jagu, the river already has a salty taste and – fused with the river Leff – has turned into a large river flowing into the sea. Nicole Chouteau, a renowned historian of the Trégor area, has written about this river “which flows down from the Avaugour area and whose estuary, studded with wonders, runs between Trégor and Goëlo and forms a link between the two. From this role comes its name (“treu” or “trez”) which means ‘passage’.”

La Roche Jagu may have witnessed the battle of 936 on the opposite bank on the moors of Plourivo, in which Alain Barbe Torte is said to put an end to a century of invasions by defeating the Normans. While no records do exist, we can reasonably assume that a wooden fortress stood not far from the spot where the structure we know today was built 500 years later.

ET_observ_leiste_larochejagu_1

La Roche Jagu nonetheless suffered greatly from attacks and pillage. The original building dating back to the 11th century was demolished by supporters of Olivier de Clisson in 1394. It was rebuilt in 1405 by Catherine de Troguindy “on condition that the Duke may always enter without obstruction from the aforesaid Catherine”. The building we know today is in much the same spirit as its predecessor, which was strongly residential in character, but also conserves imposing fortifications, particularly on the Northeast façade overlooking the River Trieux. The parapet walk and watchtowers present a defiant aspect against possible attack, whilst the courtyard façade displays stylish ornamentation with its large windows and Gothic decoration.

The lands owned by the Lords of la Roche Jagu were subject to much change between the 13th and the 15th centuries. La Roche Jagu ceased to be lived in following the death of Louis d’Acigné, which is why the living quarters still today have interior architectural features dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The chateau served as a garrison or farm until 1958, when it was given to the Conseil Général des Côtes d’Armor. Nobody lives in the Chateau any more and it is used exclusively for artistic events and exhibitions, very often focussing on the beautiful nature and cultural heritage of the Côtes D’Armor.

ET_observ_leiste_larochejagu_2

From 1958 to 1968 Conseil Général des Côtes du Nord undertook extensive renovation work under the guidance of Jean Sonnier, chief architect of ancient buildings. 1987, after the traumatic experience of hurricane that devastated most of the woodland, the Département decided to lay out a huge park. That is how the 40-hectares Roche Jagu park came into being. The landscape architect Bertrand Paulet created a modern landscape design of medieval inspiration. This project was funded by the Conseil Général des Côtes d’Armor, the Brittany Region and the State. In 1993 the work, scheduled as a multi-stage project spanning well over a decade, started and the park was opened in 1998.

Water, an omnipresent element, tumbles down slopes, spills out from a wall, feeds pools and snakes its way down to the river. Close to the entrance to the grounds, edible and medicinal plants grow in small walled gardens enclosed by trellises of willow and chestnut. In the “Harvest Garden” old corps such as buckwheat, linen and hemp have been planted side by side with their “weeds”: cornflowers, camomile, poppies etc. Further on, a palm grove contains numerous exotic species. Palm trees, agaves, camphor and many other garden features combine with nature to form a wonderful, extensive garden. In the “Gardens of Travels”, sheltered in the depth of a former quarry, plants are reminders of crusaders returning from the Holy Land and of the Breton sailors who have always been great travellers.

ET_observ_leiste_larochejagu_3

Stroll beside the streams, wind along the Oriental Path and seek out the Silver Rock. Cross the Medicine Garden, pass through the Camellia Wood with almost 200 species and varieties, alongside the pergolas covered in honeysuckle, vine or wisteria and down the Path of the Springs. The Park of Roche Jagu leaves walkers with the impression of being in the imaginary world of ancient Breton tales and the legends of King Arthur.

This again is contrasted by ephemeral gardens that are renewed every two years by landscape gardening students following a competition.

In 2005, the Park was awarded the coveted title “outstanding garden” by French Ministry of Culture and Communication and was featured in May 2005 by “Gardens Illustrated”.

Address:
Domaine Départemental de la Roche Jagu
22260 Ploëzal
France
Tel: 00.33.2.96.95.62.35
Fax: 00.33.2.96.95.19.68
E-Mail: chateudelarochejagu@cg22.fr
Website: www.larochejagu.fr

Owner:
Conseil Général des Côtes d’Armor

Opening times:
Park: All year round
House: May – November, daily 10.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 18.00
Guided tours for groups by appointment only

Admission prices:
Park: Free of charge.
House: Adults: 4 Euro; Reduced: 3 Euro; Children up to 6 years: free.
Groups (15 Pers. and more): 3 Euro

Cultural events and exhibitions:
Specific events, workshops etc. in spring and summer
Changing exhibitions, many on local themes and heritage
More information can be found on the website: www.costesdarmore.fr

Customer services:

  • Shop: yes
  • Restaurant: yes
  • WC: yes
  • Parking: Free parking
  • Seats, benches: yes
  • Average visiting duration: 90 minutes (excluding exhibitions)
  • Accessibility: For a information please contact the management of the site.

Events for children and young people:
For a program and recent information please contact the management of the site.

Map of site and additional information:

  • Information leaflets and map available free of charge
  • Additional information on sale
  • Many plants are labelled