Dol-de-Bretagne & the Menhir de Champ-Dolent

Just a little way from Mont St. Michel, Dol-de-Bretagne is a lovely town near the border of Brittany & Normandy in France. Here you meet history face to face. It has been called the origin of the House of Stuart who became the monarchs of Scotland and later of the United Kingdom. Very often captured and pillaged, by the Normans, the Francs, the French, and the Revolutionary Troops, this town has reinvented itself recently, adapting quietly to being a tourist destination. And it has many factors to attract tourists.

We had a wonderful crepe (gallette) in a 12th century inn named ‘La Table Ronde’ on the Grande-Rue des Stuarts (Street of the Stuarts). In the center of the town is the beautiful 12th-13th century Saint-Samson cathedral. It is a fortified church – very unusual!  The interior also has a surprising three-tier nave. The Welchman named Samson, according to legend, rid the local lord’s wife of leprosy and his daughter of demons. He was rewarded with land in this town, and when an earlier Romanesque cathedral was burned down by the troops of King John of England, this mighty new Gothic one went up and was named after the Welchman.

There are numerous traces of Viking influence in the town, notably the iconography of Nordic legends.The oldest house in Brittany is located on Grand-Rue des Stuarts and dates back to the 12th century.

Just a few miles outside of town is the Menhir de Champ-Dolent. It is the largest standing stone in France at 30 feet tall. The granite comes from 3 miles south of the area. No explanation is given as to how this granite became located in its current position. No one knows how old it is either. It has been estimated to weigh almost 150 tons. The name Champ-Dolent (“field of pain”) refers to a legendary struggle which is reported to have taken place on the site. The menhir is made of pink granite and is almost square at the bottom. The name “dol” comes from the Breton word “dolmen” which means “stone table”.

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