Tourism Brittany

Combourg : It is in this beautiful Breton castle that Chateaubriand was born

It is a magnificent castle in any season thanks to its immense park whose trees are of an absolute green in summer and take tawny tints in autumn. Located between Rennes and Saint Malo, a little out of the way, the Combourg castle is beautiful and austere at the same time. It is a place that gives off something. Maybe because it is here that François René de Châteaubriand lived his childhood, he who invented this literary current so exciting that is the romanticism.


A brief history of the castle of Combourg.



Coming straight from the Middle Ages, the castle dominates Combourg.


Overlooking the town (which is well worth a visit) and its lake, the château dominates.. It is made up of several large round towers always topped with machicolations and their slate roofs. It has not changed much, at least on the outside, since its construction in the Middle Ages between the 12th and 15th centuries. This castle was bought in 1761 by René-Auguste de Châteaubriand (1818-1786), a former sailor and shipowner who made his fortune in Saint Malo, and who settled there with Appoline de Bédée, his wife, in 1777. He restored the financial health of this old Breton family that was the de Châteaubriand family at the time. A man who made his fortune by the sea, starting as a sailor, becoming a privateer, then a shipowner. It was in his private mansion in Saint Malo that one of the greatest French writers and politicians was born, the last of the couple's ten children: François-René de Châteaubriand (1768-1848).


Le château de Combourg vu du parc / Photo Monsieurdefrance.Com

The castle of Combourg seen from the park / Photo Monsieurdefrance.Com



Here Chateaubriand spent his childhood


He arrived at the age of 7. A castle with a very particular atmosphere that he describes in his "Memoirs from beyond the grave".) He talks about the ghosts of the place, and a life, all in all, rather sad. François René speaks of several legends, still tenacious nowadays. For example the one about the lord with the wooden leg and the cat. Living in the red room (the room of Châteaubriand's father), this lord would be Malo-Auguste de Coëtquen (1679-1727), owner of Combourg, where he died, and who indeed had a wooden leg after being wounded during the battle of Malpaquet. The legend tells that he walks around the castle, accompanied by a cat that meows, and that he would reside in the tower of the cat, precisely where Châteaubriand slept as a child. He speaks about this legend in his memoirs from beyond the grave:"People were convinced that a certain Count of Combourg, with a wooden leg, dead for three centuries, appeared at certain times, and that he had been met in the great staircase of the turret; his wooden leg also sometimes walked alone with a black cat" . .. It is probably there, in any case, that the great writer formed his soul cradled in a certain melancholy. He spends again 2 years there from the age of 16 to the age of 18.


Châteaubriand par Anne-Louis Girodet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Châteaubriand by Anne-Louis Girodet, Saint Malo Museum Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Of Combourg he writes:


It was in the woods of Combourg that I became what I am, that I began to feel the first touch of this boredom that I have dragged all my life, of this sadness that has been my torment and my happiness. There I looked for a heart that could hear mine; there I saw my family reunited, then dispersed. My father dreamed of his name being restored, of the fortune of his house being renewed: another chimera that time and revolutions have dissipated. (...) If my works survive me, if I am to leave a name, perhaps one day, guided by these Memoirs, some traveler will come to visit the places I have painted. He will be able to recognize the castle; but he will look in vain for the great wood: the cradle of my dreams has disappeared like these dreams. Remained alone standing on its rock, the ancient keep mourns the oaks, old companions who surrounded it and protected it against the storm. Isolated like him, I saw like him falling around me the family which embellished my days and lent me its shelter: fortunately my life is not built on the earth as solidly as the towers where I spent my youth, and the man resists less to the storms than the monuments raised by his hands''.


le buste de Châteaubriand à l'entrée du château / Photo monsieur de France.

the bust of Châteaubriand at the entrance of the castle / Photo monsieur de France.



Damaged by the Revolution, saved in the 19th century.


The French Revolution blows hard on Combourg. Jean Baptiste de Châteaubriand and Aline Le peletier de Rosanbo, Châteaubriand's brother and sister-in-law, were guillotined in 1794 in Paris. Confiscated, the castle was plundered and partly burned. Restored in 1796 to Louis-Geoffroy, Châteaubriand's nephew, the castle, very damaged,remained empty for 80 years. This did not prevent what remained of it from catching the eye of Flaubert, who passed by, and Maurice Barrès who spoke of it as "a stone proof of a verbal masterpiece".

Geoffroy de Châteaubriand (1828-1889) revived Combourg by carrying out an enormous campaign of work entrusted to Ernest Thrile, a pupil of Viollet-Le-Duc, which allowed the castle to be saved and which offered a vision of the Middle Ages through what is called the " troubadour" style, a style which takes up and idealizes the style of the Middle Ages. In the 20th century, the castle was a military hospital during the Great War (1914-1918), it was also the workplace of German prisoners who cleaned the pond. During the Second World War, the German army occupied the château and made it its headquarters. In 1949, on his way to Saint Malo, General de Gaulle was received there.

The château has been passed down through various successions, always in the direct line of Geoffroy de Châteaubriand's daughters, the castle has belonged to the de la Tour du Pin family who take care of it and share it with visitors. When you see it, you feel that it is the object of all the care of those who own it and it is important to salute them for their great commitment and their fantastic work.



What we see in Combourg


If you like beautiful parks, you will be seduced. If you are sensitive to monuments and great men, Combourg will speak to you. It is also a place where you can bring children who love the Middle Ages, they will enjoy launching their imagination to the assault of the towers and to put themselves in the shoes of a knight. Don't hesitate to tell them about the legend of the lord with the wooden leg and the black cat, it will add a little thrill to the visit. Who knows if you won't hear them too?



The park, magnificent.


Le Parc à l'anglaise du château de Combourg fait 25 hectares et vaut une visite à lui seul / Photo monsieurdefrance.Com

The English park of Combourg castle is 25 hectares and is worth a visit by itself / Photo monsieurdefrance.Com


When you visit the castle, you will discover this castle as you leave the ticket office. You could go there directly to follow one of the guided tours, but I advise you to first take a nice walk in the park to discover its beauty and to soak up the place. It's 25 hectares and it's a beautiful English-style park, perfect for a stroll.

Then you will go to the main staircase that leads to the castle and the visit will start there. While walking around the castle you will discover the Sybil Tower, the Moor Tower, the Crusader Tower and the Cat Tower, where the "ghost cat" lives... It is a fact that the remains of a cat were discovered in the tower during the restoration of the castle.)



The interiors


Of course Châteaubriand is everywhere. He welcomes you in the entrance where his bust is. You will also discover his childhood bedroom and the living room where he dined. There are also a lot of family portraits, which allows to embody the history. We discover several rooms, even under the roof. The castle is very impregnated with the Middle Ages, real (the towers, the walls) or fantasized (the rooms fitted out in the XIXth century are in the "troubadour" style which idealizes the medieval times).



Top 5 quotes by Chateaubriand :


Image par Pexels de Pixabay


Number 1

"The threat of the stronger always makes me side with the weaker."


Number 2

"Heaven rarely brings forth together the man who wills and the man who can."


Number 3

"Peril vanishes when you dare to look at it."


Number 4

"The original writer is not the one who imitates no one, but the one whom no one can imitate."


Number 5

"We only feel the price of our friends when we are threatened with losing them. We are even foolish enough when all is well to believe that we can walk away from them with impunity."


Vue sur le château de Combourg / Photo



Infos Schedules / Rates / Geo / Web


By Road


The Castle of Combourg is located in Ille-Et-Vilaine (Brittany) at 38 kms from Rennes (30 minutes), 42 kms from Saint Malo (35 minutes) 41 km from Mont Saint Michel (40 minutes) and 4H from Paris by car.


By train


There is a train station in Combourg. You can find the timetable here with trains to Rennes or Saint Malo.


The schedules


the castle is open on good days, usually at the beginning of April. It takes about an hour for the guided tour (very well done).


In summer :

The park is open from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 18:30. There are guided tours in the morning at 10:45 and 11:30 and every quarter of an hour in the afternoon from 14:00 to 17:30.


In April May June September October :

The castle is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. It is open on public holidays.

All this information is indicative, always go to the website before visiting a site.


Rates (2023)


For the entrance to the park, expect 4.70 euros for adults. It is free for children under 12 years old.

For guided tours, allow 11.70 euros for adults. It is free for children under 12 years old.

There are discounts for students and groups. The rates we give here are indicative. Everything is very well indicated on the site.




The official website of the Combourg castle is here. It is very well done. You will discover the life of Châteaubriand, which will allow you to know him better before arriving. You will know the schedules and prices that suit you and you can even book your tickets in advance.


Sorry for the translation errors, our translator is immersed in the work of Chateaubriand, we did not want to disturb him we made the intern work. 

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Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site.