September is always a beautiful month to visit Brittany. The colours of the countryside are change from green to orange, yellow and brown, the tractors are ploughing the fields and preparing for the corn harvest. The beaches and attractions are quieter, the sea still warm (well, 18°C) and the weather is often sunnier and drier than in July and August. The third weekend of September is designated ‘Week-end du patrimoine’ (heritage weekend) and it is on this weekend that you find many historical buildings, including town halls, churches, cathedrals, stately homes and manor houses which are usually private, opened to the public for one or two days. It’s a great opportunity to see the inside of buildings you usually only see externally, and if you are lucky, meet and chat to the owners.
On Sunday I took my children to the nearby Chateau de Bonnefontaine, near Antrain (10 kms from La Haute Manceliere), a very well preserved stately home. The chateau is still privately owned, although weddings and musical events take place in the grounds and the Orangerie. We were able to walk around the grounds and see the tree where the Duchesse Anne de Bretagne (she deserves a separate post of her own and I will do that soon!) and also enter the chateau to see the beautiful hall and dining room of the chateau itself, with it’s fantastic painted mural. The owner himself and his wife gave a guided tour of the rooms and explained the history of the building. Definitely worth a visit, and next year we will be visiting a few more local stately homes.