Tristan island, La Fontenelle's sinister lair

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The northern side of the island - ©Ipigott / CC0 The northern side of the island - ©Ipigott / CC0
Tristan island Island Robbery Torture Imprisonment La Fontenelle

The wolf’s lair

Men lived here since Prehistoric times, since they found little houses with bronze weapons and some Gallic and Roman money. In 1351, a garrison settled and raised a fortress. Then, Jacques de Guengat, a Protestant lord expelled from this castle, took shelter on the island.

Yes, but the famous Breton crook La Fontanelle also wanted to transform this island into his own headquarters! He did this in 1595. He raised here a big stronghold. From here, he left to make his gory raids in the area… The tide protected him from sieges. It was the perfect hideaway, really! The island was called ″Guyon island″, from ″Guy″, La Fontenelle’s name...

People died, in this jail

The famous French writer Gustave Flaubert wrote in his book Par les champs et par les grèves wrote: ″Here, La Fontenelle made all his terrible shims. When his jails were full, he threw 100 prisoners in the sea. Then, he forced those unfortunate to dance upon red-hot iron bars, or rot them in tons of water. Once, he killed two man: the first one by starvation, the second one with too much food…″

La Fontenelle fortified the old abbey with stones he took from houses he plundered In Douarnenez. He even forced the inhabitants to carry those stones from their own houses to the island!

The current island

The island used to belong to the family Richepin, but they gave it to the Conservatoire du littoral, who opened it to the public in 1997. We can go round on foot and visit its nice park and have a lovely view on Douarnenez.

It’s about 450 metres long and 250 wide. A little paradise made of cliffs, rocks, moors, meadows, and even a bamboo forest planted in the 20th century! We can only reach the island at low tide.


And also!