On the fourth Sunday of June each year there is a medieval fair in the neighbouring village of Bourg-le-Roi, on the edge of the Alpes Mancelles, and just a couple of miles down the road from us.
This year the medieval fair falls on the 28th June and will feature dozens of craft and art stalls, jousting displays, a “medieval meal” and entertainment at midday, snack and drinks bars, jugglers, falconry displays, an archery stall, medieval music and more in the same theme.
Bourg le Roi is first documented as a dependance of the Le Mans monastery in 1154. It was developed as a fortified garrison town by King Henri II Plantagenêt, as it occupied a strategic point at a crossroads on the Maine (Anjou) and Normandy border. Hence it’s name “Bourg le Roi”.
The “cité” is still surrounded for on two sides by the original medieval ramparts, and two granite gateways also survive – the gates of Saint-Rémy and Saint-Mathurin. The remains of the château fort are largely ruins but can be visited on the hilltop inside the cité walls. The tower, walls and ditch defences can clearly be seen.
The village itself is very pretty and retains much of its medieval character because it has never been allowed to expand and develop outside the ramparts; it is now listed as a national site of historical interest.
There is a super little bistro and bar called “Le Bistrot de l’Olivier” in the village centre. The bar is open most days but the bistrot opens only Friday to Sunday lunchtime (including Friday and Saturday evenings).
Down in the gardens near the pond by the “lavoir” (former public washouse) is a good spot to picnic.
Bourg le Roi also has an interesting little museum and workshop specialising in Point de Beauvais needlework. From the 19th century until the 1960’s this was the main industry of the village, with a workshop at one time employing 60 embroiderers. The embroidery museum is open from June to end of September at weekends from 15h00 to 18h30, and the same hours additionally Wednesday to Friday in July and August, featuring Point de Beauvais embroidery demonstrations.
Bourg-le-Roi is within pleasant walking distance from our B&B in Lower Normandy.
Along the road from Ancinnes to Bourg le Roi you will pass the Manoir de Couesmes – of which more another time.