Bretoncelles Patrimoine & Nature in action
In progress... Bretoncelles Patrimoine et Nature (BPN) was created as an association in June 2008 on the initiative of enthusiastic Bretoncellois who were conscious of the necessity of preserving the heritage of the village and its large hinterland (second largest by area in the Perche natural park), and to conserve, maintain and restore it. Originally created with a focus on its architectural patrimony and the restoration of the village church of St Peter and St Paul, BPN rapidly broadened its scope to include, in particular, its numerous hiking trails and other activities described below.
Bretoncelles is the second largest commune by area in the department of Orne.
BPN is proud to offer 8 circular walks totalling some 100 km enabling you to pass through its numerous hamlets and magnificent forests and to discover the diversity of our countryside. There is also a short circular route for persons with reduced mobility.
There are also 3 mountain bike trails at 3 levels of difficulty: 41 km, 23 km and 11 km.
The starting point for all these circuits is the car park opposite the sports hall and swimming pool.
All footpaths and biking trails are in good shape, signed and regularly maintained by BPN.
In 2013 BPN decided to plant a conservation orchard in the Espace Naturel Sensible (Sensitive Natural Zone)* in close collaboration with "Les Croqueurs de pommes des collines du Perche" , a society that specialises in the conservation of ancient percheron varieties of apple and associated know-how.
Since 2015 our club has encouraged nature lovers to understand that planting an ancient variety of tree is an eco-citizen act that promotes the history and culture of percheron fruit trees.
In this spirit BPN planted a number of sorbus domestica (service trees) in November 2023 and in February 2024 will hold the first Graft Market with the "Les Croqueurs de pommes des collines du Perche" .
* If you are on the camper van site, this sensitive natural zone is to your right past the playground and across the footbridge over the River Donnette. From the car park go left past the playground and over the footbridge.
The restoration of the church of St Peter and St Paul has been the main objective of Bretoncelles Patrimoine et Nature since its creation in 2008.
Four projects have been undertaken so far: the exterior in 2017; the choir, the frescoes of the four evangelists and the sky with stars in 2018; the vaulted ceiling of the Great Nave in 2021.
The summer of 2023 saw the restoration of the St James Chapel.
This fine restoration is the work of Annick Dieu, a well-known restorative artist, and is the third collaboration with BPN in the church. NB : The church is open all year from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m..
Bretoncelles Patrimoine et Nature regularly organises concerts and cultural events which are open to all. The church of St Peter and St Paul is renowned for its acoustics and musicians are always delighted to perform there.
Once again in October 2023 the church walls resonated to the music of Quatuor Vocal "summer breeze". SUPERB CONCERT, with a creative repertoire from the Renaissance to the baroque period, interspersed with gospels. Classical music, jollity and dynamism for all!
In May 2023 the vocal music group GOSPEL attracted 140 people. The 5 singers of Chœur Gospel’n Life Harmony delighted the large audience gathered before the magnificent starry sky of the choir restored in 2018.
In 2020 BPN put in place a willow (osier, wicker) plantation on plot in the Espace Naturel Sensible (Sensitive Natural Zone)* made available by the council and is responsible for its upkeep.
Produced in a natural environment it has become a habitat for flora and fauna. Willow (osier) is a natural, renewable material; The basketweavers section of the village leisure club makes use of this willow to make their products.
The willow growers, volunteers from BPN and some of the leisure club members harvest the willow in December. They have the know-how to plant new cuttings to replace those that did not survive the year.
The association regularly takes part in European Heritage Days. Workshops are increasing in number year after year and there is growing interest.
In 2023 BPN organised a walk through the village following the trail of former businesses and an exhibition of old postcards and photos.
In 2022, the focus was on sustainable development with visits to farms and talks by our local producers.
Bretoncelles has, within its boundaries the impressive ruins of a castle mound dating from the 10th century which is situated in the forest of Saussay at a place named "la Butte du Château" two kilometres from the village. Excavations were first carried out by Joseph Decaëns and Anne-Marie Flambard Héricher in 1992.
The site is regularly maintained by members of BPN. It is readily accessible for visiting on foot, a short kilometre from 'le Val' (small parking area) or via a fine hiking trail (15.5 km - 4 h 30).
The place is impressive!
Bretoncelles has six calvary crosses at crossroads in and around its hamlets and named places:
la Croix des Chênes, la Moitillière, la Régeollière, la Crinière, the cemetery, le Haut des Maupinières
Since its founding BPN has taken care of and restored these in order to conserve this exceptional architectural patrimony.
Every year, in August, many villagers meet for mass at the 'calvaire de la Régeollière' in the shade of a majestic linden tree.
2023/2024 : The calvary cross at 'la Croix des Chênes' is being restored.
Last edited: 25/01/2024