An important stop on the “Route des Ducs de Bretagne”, Josselin was founded in the 11th century by the Viscount of Porhoët. The history of the town is closely linked to that of the castle. At the heart of the old town, the Basilica of Notre Dame du Roncier (literally “Our Lady of the Brambles”) and Josselin Castle watch over this rich "Petite Cité de Caractère".
Some historical facts
Built on a rocky spur overlooking the Oust Valley, Josselin was founded in the early 11th century by the Viscount of Porhoët, the Lord Guéthenoc. He built a chapel and a stockade, of which no trace remains today. His son, Josselin, gave his name to the castle and the town. In the 12th century, the town was destroyed by Henry II Plantagenet, King of England. Then, in the 14th century, Olivier de Clisson took possession of Josselin Castle and constructed a keep and an impressive curtain wall consisting of nine towers, four of which are still standing today. During the 17th century, the city prospered thanks to its fabric industry, its tanneries, rope factories, fairs and markets. In the early 19th century, the construction of the Nantes-Brest Canal brought new life to the town.
Discover the historic centre...
Take the time to stroll its narrow cobbled streets and discover its many half-timbered houses, the oldest of which dates from 1538. Take the heritage trail and explore the local history and secrets of its architecture.
... And the area of sainte-croix
In the 11th century, the Sainte-Croix quarter grew on the right bank of the river Oust, opposite the castle. Recently renovated, this area merits a visit, especially for its beautiful half-timbered houses from the Middle Ages and its Romanesque chapel that overlooks the picturesque neighbourhood. A rare relic of the former priory, the Chapel of Sainte-Croix is surrounded by a cemetery including a large cross dating from the 15th century and two hundred year-old yew trees.
Considered one of the most beautiful castles in Brittany, Josselin Castle has been owned by the Rohan family for over 1,000 years. It is a remarkable example of feudal architecture with its three impressive towers overlooking the Oust Valley. The interior facade, with its dormer windows and balustrades adorned with sculptures from the Renaissance, provides a striking contrast with the exterior.
A lively mediaeval city
Josselin is a lively town, with events throughout the year. Through the efforts and enthusiasm of its voluntary associations, the town buzzes with activity all year round: shows, theatre, music, conferences and more. Every Wednesday in summer, the “Festiv'été” (music festival) enlivens the city centre for visitors to enjoy. Every two years, the city plunges into history with its Mediaeval Festival (next event in July 14th 2016).