Rochefort-en-Terre is a “Petite Cité de Caractére” and one of Brittany’s hidden gems. This slender village displays a mix of architectural styles, with traces of 14th Century Gothic, to 16th Century Renaissance and houses of the 19th Century. We arrived an hour before sunset and checked into La Tour du Lion (The Tower of the Lion), originally a house built by a wealthy steward more than 500 years ago. With only five rooms, the hotel caters to a select number of guests throughout the year and all of the rooms are named after French royalty, with the exception of the one we stayed in—the Moulin Rouge, which has been decorated as a tribute to the infamous Parisian cabaret. From our window, we looked down over a pristine courtyard café behind the hotel, complete with a lion’s head spigot that spills into a small stone receptacle. The hotel could easily accommodate actors.
A walk through the village revealed yet more stone and lots of it, under our feet and enveloping almost every structure in town. With an occasional terracotta or half-timbered facade here and there, Rochefort-en-Terre is primarily a hamlet made of rock, whose buildings are dark grey in color with steeply vaulted roofs. With flower boxes in almost every window, it’s a fairy tale setting that reminded me a little of Hansel and Gretel. Planters bedecked with geraniums line the village square and at night, the lights left on in the local shops spill out onto the stone street and it’s suddenly Christmas in July. You honestly couldn’t paint a better postcard than the one you can see with your own eyes. Later that night, I sat on a bench in the square and it was a relatively quiet evening, but for a lively conversation between a barkeep and two waitresses coming from an adjacent café.
The following morning, Wade and I conducted a more thorough scout through the village, which tapers down onto several narrow side streets. Ateliers housing artists, craftspeople, potters and even a toymaker sparsely dot these skinny detours off the main square, many with unusual and colorful signs hanging over their doors. Our film requires such streets and I was happy to see that Rochefort-en-Terre hasn’t been overrun by tourists here at what is essentially the peak of the season. Still, it’s a destination village and though somewhat off the beaten track, one that gets many visitors. It’s also a town that has undergone meticulous preservation, to the point that it feels more like a movie set than lived in. The upper village where most workers reside lacks the storybook charm and practicality of main street, so filming would be limited to the lower sector.