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Pigeonniers of France: Brittany
Day 4: La Garaye, La Gravelle, near Dinan

Dovecote at Gite La Garaye, click for larger image Dovecote La Gravelle, click for larger image
Dovecote at gite La Garaye

Map, click for larger image.
Dovecote at La Gravelle

Map, click for larger image.
Gite
The term gite, pronounced zheat, originally meant, quite simply, a form of shelter. Today they are generally old farm workers' cottages or converted outbuildings and barns within the proximity of the owners' principal residence, and vary from being luxury holiday homes to very basic apartments.  Booking gites on line with gites-de-france in advance is a very convenient way to travel the rural countryside.  While many owners choose to handle their own rentals, the gite on line site is the most convenient way of locating and pricing what is available in your travel area during your travel dates. It takes a bit of work because much of the site and communication, including the contracts, are in French, but it is well worth the effort. I worried a bit about the contract being in French, but then recalled that I sign rental car agreementseven written in English, which I don't understand, so thought, what the heck. Worked great.

Dovecote at La Garaye

At times you can’t see what is right under your nose. By sheer luck, we found that we had a dovecote right at our gite at La Garaye. Since this dovecote is on private property away from any public road, the only way we wold have found it was by staying in the gite. Even though our eyes are attuned to dovecotes, we did not see it until our second day there. Its top was just visible behind a barn from the window of our second floor bathroom. It's almost unbelievable that it was difficult to recognize, considering it is nearly 30 feet in diameter, with a height of nearly 30 feet as well. This is a large dovecote. There are 25 rows with about 40 holes for 1,000 nest holes. They are in the standard checkerboard pattern, and each row’s nest holes alternate in curving to either the left or to the right inside. A landing ledge is supplied for about every fourth tier of nests. The doorway is rather low, but has a well defined lintel. There was no visible rat course built into the structure, but the overhanging roof may have been deemed sufficient for the purpose. The base of the cote was made up of larger stones that gradually decreased in size to the roof line. The exterior plaster finish is still quite visible, making a band around the middle. This is somewhat surprising, given its overall condition. The roof is missing, and the interior is full of blackberry brambles. All in all, a bit of a sorry state, but it is certainly preserved enough to be saved.

Dovecote La Gravelle

For the afternoon we set out to locate the dovecote near Les Champs Geraux, being only about 10km to the southeast, using the D794 out of Dinan D794. All we knew about La Gravelle was that it was supposed to be at the old manor and that it was octagonal in shape, making it fairly unique anywhere, and almost singular for Brittany, sharing this distinction with the dovecote of St. Lormel. It was the property of the lords of the Champs Géraux since the end of 16th century. It is octagonal, made of small schist, with the roof and skylight out of slates. The dovecote is divided horizontally with a lower part being used as storeroom. The dovecote was built in 1607, and belonged then to Jean Nicolas, lord and adviser at the Parliament.  It is on private property, and since we do not speak French, we did not approach the owners for permission to examine it more closely.

We found the village easily, but had to cast about a bit for the dovecote.  However, we did find it.  To get there, take the D29 north out of Le Champs Geraux; take the first right turn at .3 km, a sign at this corner says La Gravelle; go another .3 km down this road, and the dovecote is on the left, quite visible from the road with a backdrop of other farm buildings, but it is actually easier to spot if you drive past it and look behind you.

Our fifth day covered the vicinity of Combourg at includes the most beautiful dovecote I have ever seen, Chapelle-Aux-Filzméens. It is included on the quick trip tour Take part of the quick trip tour to Chapelle-Aux-Filzméensbecause of it's beautiful design eventhough it is not on public property. Continue on to next page

 

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