, is a small town and commune
of less than 8,000 residents located in the heart of Anjou
, a few kilometers from the great châteaux
of the Loire Valley
The town was already Vetus Doadum
("Old Doadum"), Teotuadum castrum,
in Late Antiquity
, identifiable in a document of 631 as Castrum Doe
. The foundations of a 6th-century circular baptistery
beside the natural springs has been uncovered beneath the ruins of the pre-Romanesque
church of Saint-Léger, itself destroyed in the 17th century. It was the site of a Gallo-Roman villa
that was inherited by the Carolingians
. In his villa here, Theoduadum palatium
, Louis the Pious
was informed of the death of his father Charlemagne
in 814 and hurried to Aachen
to be crowned. The villa was turned into a motte
in the 10th century, around which the village developed, in part in excavated troglodyte
dwellings. In 1055 the site was identified as Doedus
, then Docium
Doué-la-Fontaine is the site of the oldest habitable donjon (keep) in France, dating back to the year 900. No traces of Doué's medieval fortifications remains, save the names of "gates" given to certain streets. The castle is widely believed to have been the first european castle to be built out of stone (at around 950).
Nearby are the troglodyte dwellings, where the inhabitants took refuges from the Normans, and commercial mushroom-growing caves. The stone of Doué-la-Fontaine was quarried for sarcophagi 4 km from the town. The Zoo of Doué-la-Fontaine is partly built within the network of the troglodytes sites and dwellings. Recently, a cave containing sarcophagi was unearthed.
In 1793, Doué-la-Fontaine was the site of massacres during the counter-Revolutionary Revolt in the Vendée, suppressed by General Santerre.
Known as the rose capital of France, a "Festival of the Rose" is held in July of each year where in one park alone more than 800 varieties can be seen.
Famous people born in Doué-la-Fontaine