Traveling the Brittany Coast: The charming Rothéneuf is close to Saint-Malo, and home to les Rochers Sculptes.

These are The Sculptured Stones of Rothéneuf.

When traveling Brittany and the Emerald Coast, try to include in your destination the sculptures of Rothéneuf. The small town sits on the winding coastal road of Brittany between Cancale and St Malo, and is a burgeoning ‘burb’ these days; new houses are going up, traffic quickly congests, but the tradeoff is worth it. Close to the fortressed city, full of the flavors of the sea to come home to, it holds the famous Bretagne quintessential charm. It is also home to les Rochers Sculptés, a ‘cliffside’ museum which draws many the curious soul. It’s well worth a stroll to the edge of town on a sunny day.

les Rochers Sculptés, Rothéneuf

As the story goes, Abbé Fouré retired from priesthood in Rothéneuf in the late 1800’s. Made deaf and dumb after suffering a stroke, he spent the last 10-15 years of his life carving/sculpting images in granite cliffs that face and fall to the sea. Ghosts, ghouls, gargoyles, one quite distinct sea monster, and clearly old friends and enemies — nearly 300 sculptures covered these cliffs — and though much of it has been lost to erosion and human traffic, much still remains.

It’s an odd assortment; not quite mythical, not quite magical, but most certainly an art form that people have found beguiling and perplexing — even to this day.

For the first time lifelong for me, I hit ‘vertigo’. So I clung to the cliff edge and planted one foot in front of the other into crumbling nooks and crannies; a new breath in for each step taken. One gentleman extended his hand which made all the difference.

I did not go down to the bottom and look up. Instead, I quickly discovered ledges and benches he carved into the cliffs– one of which I claimed.

Here, I could look out to sea. It was a mild, sunny day and the water was blue as can be. Light winds reminded me I was in luck with the weather, because on a stormy day? It would be impassable.

Sitting still with it all was a treasure, my silver lining. Out popped carvings easily missed.

les Rochers Sculptés, Rothéneuf

I’d look twice to catch the shadow of some form … and there it was. Some were grotesque …some peaceful … some poised as guardians of the gate.

What grabbed me most about the work of Abbé Fouré, was not that it was beautiful. It isn’t. But it is extraordinary. Audacious with a hint of manic, revealing the workings of his own mind; some absolute necessity to carve in stone for perpetuity, as if this was ‘his own inner cathedral’ he brought forth, demons, saints and all, to return to over and over again on the cliffs he called home.

He also, apparently, was savvy to attracting tourists to his cliffs, and went about printing hundreds of picture postcards which he made available for purchase on site.

His art might be measured most by bewilderment. This curiosity lends to a constant stream of people who come to visit. While there late morning, probably two dozen were taking it in at the same time as I … though as I left, that stream was growing in size.


Follow local directional signs in Rothéneuf.

Small parking lot serves both les Rochers and Restaurant le Bénétin.

There are no guard or guide rails, no real steps left, i.e., not ‘arranged’ for visitors.

It is sauvage.

Come prepared; wear tread shoes, gauge your comfort level beforehand with climbing and hiking up and down cliff faces so you can enjoy the fullness.

Admission fee is 2,50 euros.

For the less intrepid, a fine dining restaurant is perched to your right as you enter, with stunning views out to sea. Reservations can be made online here: