The large stone reception room is still in a wedding configuration with the head table facing those of the guests. But at the beginning of October, this vast space of 340 m² will literally change its decor and welcome large tables for sorcerer’s apprentices. On the occasion of the All Saints holidays, the castle Le Rocher Portallocated in Saint-Brice-en-Coglès between Rennes and Le Mont-Saint-Michel, will be transformed into “Breton Hogwarts” and welcome its school of witchcraft inspired by the universe of Harry Potter.
Owner of the premises, Manuel Roussel has long matured this somewhat crazy project. The story begins in 2016 when this local child, who has made a career in industry, acquires this sumptuous castle erected at the end of the 16th century. Listed as a Historic Monument since 1961, this Renaissance gem first belonged to the family of Gilles Ruellan, adviser to Henri IV, before passing into the hands of the Farcy and Boutray families. “We are therefore the fourth family to occupy this place steeped in history,” proudly points out Manuel Roussel.
“Not a pale copy” of the saga
In 2017, he decided to open this place which has always been hidden to the public by offering guided tours. The curious are of course at the rendezvous. But not as much as expected. “We must approach 20,000 visitors each year”, underlines the owner. So that his business takes off, he then thinks about eventizing his castle. “But we lacked an identity,” he acknowledges. He will finally find it by surveying the many rooms of his property, for which he has more than 300 keys.
“Of course there was all this period furniture and wall tapestries,” he says. But I also found a whole bunch of books and objects relating to magic and sorcery”. Not to mention the large reception room, suitable for hosting large Hogwarts-style banquets. At the end of 2021, Manuel Roussel therefore unveils his project to open a school of wizards and organize immersive evenings in the universe of Harry Potter. “But I didn’t want it to be a pale copy,” he says. So we decided to write our own story which also takes place in a real setting”.
Banquet, magic tricks and school visit
As in the saga, four distinct houses will take part in the adventure, Busarde, Fauvedor, Cerfdelune and Boucfleche replacing Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. “We were inspired by the four families who succeeded each other at the castle, each with their own banner,” he underlines. Once their house has been assigned, the sorcerer’s apprentices will meet their new teachers, actors recruited for the occasion, who will teach them tricks of magic and sorcery.
Visitors will then sit down to eat for the traditional back-to-school banquet before walking through the corridors of the school. That is about thirty rooms of the castle specially decorated and animated. “Some rooms have never been opened to the public before,” emphasizes Manuel Roussel. There is in particular this class where 120 schoolgirls from Saint-Malo stayed during the Second World War”. For this first return to school, the owner hopes to attract “between 10,000 and 15,000” sorcerers and magicians.
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In Brittany, a castle will open its school of wizards on All Saints’ Day
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