A few words to introduce Brécey.
Situated 30 kms from Mont-Saint-Michel and on the border of the areas of Mortain and Avranches, Brécey is the administrative centre of a canton of 15 communes situated on both sides of the lower valley of the River Sée. Brécey straddles the Sée, a first category river famous for its fish life (trout and salmon) and its mills.
The valley of the Sée follows the meanders of the river as far as the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel; the landscape is made up of small parcels of land surrounded by ‘bocage’ hedgerows.
The canton of Brécey is crossed by the GR22 (GR’s are recognised long distance footpaths, GR standing for Grandes Randonnées) and other GRs which give walkers and ramblers the opportunity to appreciate the characteristic rural architecture: to residential properties built principally of granite, sandstone and schist are added outbuildings such as bread ovens, stables etc. These little agricultural and domestic structures, mostly bult of torchis (similar to the ‘wattle and daub’ structures in England) and planks of wood, characteristic of the South Manche, are always present and visible throughout the canton.
Several beautiful edifices stand out amongst these rural buildings, such as the Château du Logis, la Brisolière and la Semondière, all three ancient residences of the ‘Lords of the Manor’.
The building of the Château de Vassy, at the place called Le Logis, dates back to the beginning of the 17th century; its architecture is typical of the 3 coloured style of the era of Louis XIII, bringing together brick, slate and stone – here the stone of the region, granite and schist.
While conserving its major spaces, the Logis has lost its two wings; the most remarkable element of the building is the huge staircase of three flights which dominates the central part of the building. Classed as a Historic Monument in its entirety since 1999, it is open to the public during the summer and it hosts various exhibitions.
La Brisolière, a 19th century residence, was built by the Comte de Brécey and occupied by his descendants until the end of the 20th century. This family was linked to the artistic world through marriage with the Durand-Ruel family (among the most influential of 19th century art dealers) at the end of the 19th century. Renoir also stayed with members of the family.
La Semondière is slightly earlier than le Logis, probably built in the 16th century.
This fortified house, surrounded by a moat, has a square turret and was the home, for close to two centuries, of the family of Marie-Louise de Brécey, wife of Jean de Julienne, a major collector, patron and friend of the celebrated artist Watteau who painted his portrait, today on display at the museum of
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Our heritage is not limited to these three buildings, other witnesses to our rich and varied past still survive.
Today, enriched by its past, Brécey is building its future on 3 major axes: the economy and its durable development, tourism and the quality/way of life within which education, sport and culture play a major role.