©La Tour de Bonvouloir|Bagnoles Tourisme

Bonvouloir Tower

The lighthouse of the Forêt d’Andaine

On the edge of the Forêt d’Andaine, about six miles from Bagnoles de l’Orne, you will find the ruins of the Château de Bonvouloir. There is a marked trail with nine information panels that will tell you all about this historic 15th-century site.

The ruins of a 15th-century Manor

Bonvouloir tower is the last remaining vestige of the ancient Château de Bonvouloir in the commune of Juvigny sous Andaine. The ruins of the buildings of this unique and mysterious legendary site are a listed historic monument. Built in 1485 by Guyon Essirard, the Duc d’Alençon’s steward, Le Tour de Bonvouloir consists of two towers placed side-by-side.

A round tower topped by a pepperpot turret is joined to a very slim 26 metre tall tower. This tower has a bell-shaped roof that is supported by corbels. A stone staircase leads to the top of the lookout tower. This lookout has stunning 360° views over the Forêt des Andaines and the departments of Orne and Mayenne. On a good day you can see for around 18 miles.
Bonvouloir tower, which is nicknamed the “lighthouse of the Forêt d’Andaine”, was used “during the day to rally and during the night to light the way for soldiers who were lost in the area.” Around the building you can see a tower that is now a dovecot, an ancient chapel, a well and barns. Close by, there is a lake and an orchard making this unusual site a relaxing place to unwind.

Tour and detours at Bonvouloir

The interpretive trail “Tour et détours à Bonvouloir” is an hour-and-a-half-long circular walk of about a mile in length. The walk has nine stops with information panels. The audio guide enables you to find out more about the history of the site by listening to voices from the past.

Around the conservation orchard, which contains many types of pear tree, there are majestic trees that are more than 300 years old. In spring 2020 “Bonvouloir’s Secret Gardens” was added to enable visitors to explore the connections between people and plants. It displays wild plants and those that have been cultivated since the Renaissance.

Close to the lake there is an area where you can relax, unwind and fully enjoy this beautiful setting. Located close to the GR22, Le Tour de Bonvouloir is also the starting point for several hiking routes.

The legend of Bonvouloir

The legend of Bonvouloir takes us back to the Middle Ages, when the knight, Guyon Essirard married Anne, a woman who was much younger than he was. The first years of the marriage were barren and this caused the couple much suffering.

To try and resolve the situation, Guyon took up residence close to the spring in the Forêt des Andaines, which was renowned for its rejuvenating properties. He spent twenty-one days there, bathing, drinking water from the spring and sleeping in the forest.

When he returned to his wife, he had regained his youthful vigour. A few months later, his young wife finally gave birth to his first child. To celebrate this achievement, the knight had the tower of the Château de Bonvouloir built, the shape of which may or may not be relevant!