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The ideal travel companion, full of insider advice on what to see and do, plus detailed itineraries and

comprehensive maps for exploring this historic and picturesque region.

Marvel at the majestic Mont-St-Michel, explore Brittany's largest market in Rennes, wander the stately streets of Nantes, admire the half-timbered medieval houses in Vannes or relax on the beaches of St-Malo:

everything you need to know is clearly laid out within colour-coded chapters. Discover the best of Brittany

with this indispensable travel guide.

Inside DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Brittany:

- Over 15 colour maps help you navigate with ease
- Simple layout makes it easy to find the information you need
- Comprehensive tours and itineraries of Brittany, designed for every interest and budget
- Illustrations depict Brittany's icons such as the extraordinary Mont-St-Michel, Qumiper's Cathédrale St-

Corentin, Nantes' impressive Château des Ducs de Bretagne and more
- Colour photographs of the region's historic cities, pretty coastal towns, charming châteaux, elegant

cathedrals, beautiful landscapes and more
- Detailed chapters, with area maps, cover Ille-et-Vilaine; Côtes d'Armor; Northern Finistère; Southern

Finistère; Morbihan; Loire-Atlantique and more
- Historical and cultural context gives you a richer travel experience: learn about the region's fascinating

history and rich culture, rural and religious architecture, musical heritage, inspirational literature, traditional Breton costume, unique festivals including the pardons and festou-noz, local cuisine, landscape and birds, and more
- Essential travel tips: our expert choices of where to stay, eat, shop and sightsee, plus how to get

around, useful phrases, and visa and health information

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Brittany is a detailed, easy-to-use guide designed to help you get the most from

your visit to Brittany.

Discover the best professional documents and content resources in AnyFlip Document Base.
Published by Read My eBook for FREE!, 2020-02-19 02:45:37

(DK Eyewitness) Travel Guide - Brittany

The ideal travel companion, full of insider advice on what to see and do, plus detailed itineraries and

comprehensive maps for exploring this historic and picturesque region.

Marvel at the majestic Mont-St-Michel, explore Brittany's largest market in Rennes, wander the stately streets of Nantes, admire the half-timbered medieval houses in Vannes or relax on the beaches of St-Malo:

everything you need to know is clearly laid out within colour-coded chapters. Discover the best of Brittany

with this indispensable travel guide.

Inside DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Brittany:

- Over 15 colour maps help you navigate with ease
- Simple layout makes it easy to find the information you need
- Comprehensive tours and itineraries of Brittany, designed for every interest and budget
- Illustrations depict Brittany's icons such as the extraordinary Mont-St-Michel, Qumiper's Cathédrale St-

Corentin, Nantes' impressive Château des Ducs de Bretagne and more
- Colour photographs of the region's historic cities, pretty coastal towns, charming châteaux, elegant

cathedrals, beautiful landscapes and more
- Detailed chapters, with area maps, cover Ille-et-Vilaine; Côtes d'Armor; Northern Finistère; Southern

Finistère; Morbihan; Loire-Atlantique and more
- Historical and cultural context gives you a richer travel experience: learn about the region's fascinating

history and rich culture, rural and religious architecture, musical heritage, inspirational literature, traditional Breton costume, unique festivals including the pardons and festou-noz, local cuisine, landscape and birds, and more
- Essential travel tips: our expert choices of where to stay, eat, shop and sightsee, plus how to get

around, useful phrases, and visa and health information

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Brittany is a detailed, easy-to-use guide designed to help you get the most from

your visit to Brittany.

eyewitness travel


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Produced by Hachette Tourisme, Paris, France
Editorial Director Cécile Boyer
Project Editor Catherine Laussucq
Art Director Jad-Hersienne
Designers Maogani
Cartography Fabrice Le Goff
Gaëtan Du Chatenet, Jean-Philippe Follet,
Jean-Yves Gendillard, Éric Gibory, Renée Grimaud,
Georges Minois
Dorling Kindersley Limited
Publishing Managers Jane Ewart, Fay Franklin Painting of Louis XII and Anne of
English Translation & Editor Lucilla Watson Brittany, Musée Thomas Dobrée
DTP Jason Little, Conrad van Dyk
Production Sarah Dodd
Printed and bound in China.
First American Edition, 2003
16 17 18 19 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Discovering Brittany 10
Published in the United States by
DK Publishing, 345 Hudson Street, Putting Brittany
New York, New York 10014
on the Map 16
Reprinted with revisions 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017
Copyright © 2003, 2017 Dorling Kindersley Limited, London A Portrait of Brittany 18
A Penguin Random House Company
All Rights Reserved. Brittany
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication
may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in Through the Year 34
any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the
above publisher of this book. The History of Brittany 40
Published in Great Britain by Dorling Kindersley
A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.
ISSN 1542-1554
ISBN 978-1-46545-993-0
Floors are referred to throughout in accordance with
European usage; ie the “first floor” is the floor above
ground level.

The information in this
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide is checked regularly.
Every effort has been made to ensure that this book is as up-to-date as possible
at the time of going to press. Some details, however, such as telephone numbers,
opening hours, prices, gallery hanging arrangements and travel information are
liable to change. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for any consequences
arising from the use of this book, nor for any material on third party websites, and
cannot guarantee that any website address in this book will be a suitable source of
travel information. We value the views and suggestions of our readers very highly.
Please write to: Publisher, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, Dorling Kindersley,
80 Strand, London, WC2R 0RL, UK, or email: [email protected]
The abbey at Mont-St-Michel, rising from
Front cover main image: The lively harbour of Audierne in Southern Finistère its tidal island in the bay
Castel Meur House in Côtes d’Armor

004-005_EW_Brittany_US.indd 4 11/3/16 12:41 PM

Shops and Markets 244

Entertainment 248
Outdoor Activities 250

Portsall in Côte des Abers (see pp132–3)
Brittany Region Travellers’ Needs
by Region

at a Glance 56

Ille-et-Vilaine 58 Faïencerie Henriot retail outlet
in Quimper
Côtes d’Armor 92
Survival Guide

Practical Information 256

Travel Information 264
Bagpipe-player at Festival Interceltique
in Lorient
General Index 272
Where to Stay 220
Acknowledgments 284
Where to Eat and Drink
230 Phrase Book 287

Basilique Notre-Dame, in Folgoët

Northern Finistère 118

Southern Finistère 148
Morbihan 176

Loire-Atlantique 202 Château de Kerjean

004-005_EW_Brittany.indd 5 11/3/16 12:41 PM



This Eyewitness Travel Guide helps you with the help of maps, photographs and
to get the most from your stay in Brittany. illustrations. The Travellers’ Needs section
It provides detailed practical information gives detailed information about hotels,
and expert recommendations. Introducing restaurants, shops and markets, entertain­
Brittany maps the entire region, sets it in ment and sports. The Survival Guide,
its historical and cultural context. The six provides practical advice on everything
regional chapters describe important sights from transport to personal safety.

Brittany Region by Region
BRIT T AN Y REGION B Y REGION  59 Introduction
This region has been divided into ILLE-ET-VILAINE 1The landscape, history
six colour-coded areas for easy In the north, the Côte d’Émeraude and Mont-St-Michel face and character of each
onto the English Channel. Further south, at the confluence
reference. Each chapter opens of the Ille and the Vilaine rivers, lies Rennes, the regional region is described here,
capital, which is famous for its elegant parliament building.
To the east, the proud fortresses of the Breton marches, which once
protected the duchy of Brittany, face neighbouring Normandy.
with an introduction to the area. The beaches of the Côte d’Émeraude are centuries. In the towns, a prosperous showing how the area
This is followed by a regional map lined by a succession of resorts. But well and influential middle class developed; has developed over the
the medieval houses in Vitré and Dol, as
before this part of Brittany was discovered
by tourists, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul
well as the town houses in Rennes, are
showing the most interesting Signac and other artists had already been proof of this opulence. As acts of piety, centuries and what it has
struck by its beauty when they came to
trades men’s guilds commissioned the
artists of Laval to create rich altarpieces.
paint in St-Briac.
towns, villages and places. Finding Whether they are drawn to the From Celtic mythology to French to offer the visitor today.
megalithic Roche-aux-Fées or to
Romanticism, the département of the Ille-
et-Vilaine also has two emblems of Breton
the fortified castle in Fougères, lovers
your way around the chapter is of ancient monuments will be spoiled literary heritage: one is the the Forêt
de Paimpont, the legendary Forêt de
for choice. On the coast, Mont-St-Michel
stands as a jewel of Gothic reli gious
Brocéliande where Merlin fell under the
made simple by the numbering architecture, while the citadel in St-Malo spell of the fairy Vivian; the other is
encloses within its ramparts several luxury
the lugubrious Château de Combourg,
hotels. Inland, noble men built a multitude
haunted by the ghost of the 19th-century
system used throughout. The most of manor houses, symbols of social writer and statesman the Vicomte A locator map shows the
de Chateaubriand.
standing, during the 16th and 17th
important sights and towns are region in relation to the
covered in detail in two or more whole of Brittany.
full pages.
Exploring the Morbihan Slender stone columns that form the cloisters of Mont-St-Michel Abbey
Getting Around
View of the waterfront town of Cancale, the oyster capital of Brittany
From Paris, Vannes can be reached in
The south of the Morbihan is crossed by the Vilaine, which flows into 3 hours and 10 minutes by TGV (high-speed
the Atlantic just west of La Roche-Bernard. Vannes, on the far northern train), and Lorient in 3 hours 45 minutes.
side of the gulf, is the capital of the Morbihan, and a lively city with an The N24 and its continuation, the N166, link
Rennes and Vannes. The fast N165, almost
ever-expanding student population. The Morbihan’s two other major
conurbations – Lorient, a port with five harbours, and Auray, a charming all of it a dual carriageway, links Nantes
with Vannes, Auray and Lorient. Several
medieval town – are located further northwest. Water is ubiquitous in minor roads, including the D780, D781, Each area of Brittany can be quickly
this region; countless rivers have carved deep canyons, and rias (ancient D199 and D101, run around the edge of
valleys flooded by the sea) go far inland. The Golfe du Morbihan is the Golfe du Morbihan. The best way of identified by its colour coding.
almost closed and is thus sheltered from the The citadel at Port-Louis which provides a comprehensive view of
exploring the gulf is, however, by boat,
rigours of the open sea. Although the the islands and their beautiful coastlines.
Morbihan’s inland region attracts Loudéac,
fewer visitors, it has beautiful Fo rê t d e Q u é n e c a n St-Brieuc
countryside and pretty villages. Gourin Plouray Dinan
Quimper Rohan La Trinité- Mauron
SUR-SCORFF PONTIVY Porhoët Regional Map
L a n o u é e
LE FAOUËT Canal de Nantes Fo rê t d e
St-Fiacre KERNASCLÉDEN Pluméliau Naizin 2This gives an illustrated overview
Scorff Bubry Réguiny JOSSELIN Lac au duc PLOËRMEL Rennes
Plouay Guer of the whole region. All the
Quimper BAUD Locminé Guéhenno
Saint-Jean- sights are numbered and there
Guidel Pluvigner Claie Malestroit
Lanester L a n d e s d e L a n v a u x La Gacilly Aff
Landévant Grand-Champ are also useful tips on getting
Ploemeur Oust
Forteresse de Arz
Larmor-Plage D’AURAY EN-TERRE around the area by car and
Basilica at Ste-Anne-d’Auray Êtel Le Bono VANNES QUESTEMBERT
Port-Tudy LA TRINITÉ-SUR- Parc Zoologique public transport.
ÎLE DE GROIX Plouharnel MER Arradon de Branféré Péaule Vilaine
Port-Navalo MORBIHAN
Pte. de
Kerpenhir Château LA ROCHE-
de Kerlévenan
Sights at a Glance QUIBERON Baie de St Gildas Château Camoël Nantes Story boxes highlight special or
de Suscinio
1 Lorient r Vannes pp192–5 Quiberon Quiberon de Rhuis
2 Port-Louis t La Roche-Bernard
3 Île de Groix y Questembert a Pontivy La Baule unique aspects of a particular sight.
4 Presqu’île de Quiberon u Rochefort-en-Terre
5 Belle-Île-en-Mer i Ploërmel ÎLE D’HOUAT
6 Île de Houat o Josselin Sauzon ÎLE DE Key
7 Île de Hoëdic p Baud BELLE-ÎLE- Le Palais HOËDIC Major road
8 Carnac pp184–5 a Pontivy EN-MER 0 kilometres Secondary road
9 La Trinité-sur-Mer s Guéméné-sur-Scorff 0 miles 10 20 Minor road
0 Locmariaquer d Kernascléden Locmaria Main railway
q Auray f Le Faouët
w Ste-Anne-d’Auray g Hennebont Minor railway
e Golfe du Morbihan pp188–91 Regional border
For hotels and restaurants see pp228–9 and pp241–3 126  BRIT T AN Y REGION B Y REGION For keys to symbols see back flap NOR THERN FINISTÈRE  127
communities and seminaries –
and from its religious buildings. The Story of the Johnnies
The 12th-century cathedral, When Henri Olivier, an inhabitant of Roscoff,
which towers over the market sailed for Plymouth in a ship loaded with onions,
square, is one of the very few he was unwittingly establishing a tradition.
churches in Brittany still to have Hundreds of agricultural workers, many of
its original ciborium (canopy). This whom were very young, followed Olivier’s
example, going from port to port in Wales,
Detailed information one takes the form of a palm tree, Scotland and England selling strings of onions
its spreading branches covered in
to housewives, who nick named them Johnnies.
putti, vine leaves and ears of corn.
Until the 1930s, this seasonal migration was an
According to an ancient tradi tion,
3on each sight The beach at the elegant coastal resort of Carantec the ciborium is suspended over essential opportunity for trade, and many
families who lived on the coast of Brittany
the altar. Other notable features
began to adopt such British habits as drinking
are a 16-petal rose window
tea and playing darts. They also began to speak
(1431), trompe-l’œil decoration
Breton interspersed with various English words
All the important towns 2 Carantec + Château du Taureau on the organ, built by Robert 4 Roscoff 5 Île de Batz and expressions.
Johnnies with their strings of onions
Open Guided tours, which include a
Dallam, 16th-century choir stalls
Road map B1. * 2,800. @ from
with carvings of fabulous animals,
boat trip, available from Apr–Sep.
Morlaix. n 4 Rue Pasteur; (02) 98 67
Tel (02) 98 62 29 73. &
and reliquaries containing skulls.
and other places to visit are 00 43. ( Thu am. _ Pardon de ∑ The most remarkable build ing Road map B1. * 3,700. £ @ from Road map B1. * 740. 4 4
Notre-Dame-de-Callot (Sun after 15
} Île Callot
Aug). ∑
in St-Pol is, however, the
motorboats run by CFTM (02 98 61
Morlaix. g n Quai d’Auxerre; (02) 98
Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-
Accessible from Grève Blanche at low
78 87), Armein (02 98 61 74 04) and
61 12 13. ( Wed am. _ Pardon de
described individually. They With the arrival of the first tide. Check with the tourist office. Kreisker, whose belfry is the Ste-Barbe (mid-Jul); Fête de l’Oignon Armor Excursions (02 98 61 79 66)
tallest in Brittany; the climb up
foreign visitors, between the
(mid-Aug). ∑
E Musée Maritime
from Roscoff. n (02) 98 61 75 70.
8 Rue Albert-Louppe. Tel (02) 98 67 00
1870s and the 1900s, the
_ Pardon de Ste-Anne (late Jul).
its 170-step spiral staircase is
history of Carantec (Karanteg 43. Open mid-Jun–mid-Sep: Fri–Wed rewarded by a breathtaking From the fish farms at Ste-Barbe Separated from Roscoff by a
are listed in order, following One of these visitors found pm. & forming the Ceinture Dorée (the old harbour, most of Roscoff narrow channel, the Îsle de
view of the bay, the fields
in Breton) took a decisive turn.
to the seaweed boats in the
“golden belt” that is a prime
is focused on the sea. The
the location enchanting and,
Batz (Enez Vaz in Breton) is a
3 St-Pol-de-Léon
small island just 4 km (3 miles)
largely thanks to him, a
Église Notre-Dame-de-Kroaz-
producer of early vegetables),
the numbering on the fashionable coastal resort was Road map B1. * 7,400. £ and, below, the old town of Baz, built with funds from long and 2 km (1 mile) wide.
merchants and privateers (in
It has about 20 sandy beaches
created. Its smart hotels and
St-Pol. From this vantage point
n Place de l’Évêché; (02) 98 69
1515), has caravels carved on
there is a bird’s-eye view of
and creeks.
elegant villas no longer
05 69. ( Tue. 8 free in summer
Regional Map. Within exist, however. ∑ other jewels of St-Pol’s its exterior walls. The crossing from Roscoff’s old Jardin Exotique Georges-Delaselle, the
The magical views here
Renaissance architecture, such
Roscoff (Rosk o Gozen in
harbour, or from the groyne,
colonial garden on the Île de Batz
This city is the capital of Brittany’s
Breton), whose port handles
takes only 20 min utes, and the
can be enjoyed by following
as the Maison Prébendale
island attracts up to 4,000 visitors
artichoke- and cauliflower-
a marked footpath running
ferry links with Plymouth, has
(canons’ house) on Place du
each town or city, there is from Grève Blanche to the pine growing region. St-Pol (Kastell Paol 4-Août-1944, the Hôtel de a long, if stormy history with a day over certain summer week- ruined Romanesque Chapelle
wood at Penn al Lann. The
in Breton) is named after Pol-
Britain. Not only did Roscovites
de Ste-Anne and the Jardin
Keroulas in Rue du Collège, and
ends. Outside the high season,
Aurélien, a Welsh evangelizer
the Manoir de Kersaliou, on the
Batz is a haven of tranquility,
two-hour walk takes in Porspol
Exotique George-Delaselle,
fight naval battles with the
road to Roscoff, a charming
British and suffer their raids, they with far fewer visitors than
beach, a rocky platform known
in the southeast of the island,
who founded a monastery here
detailed information on as the Chaise du Curé (Parson’s in the 6th century. Soon after, 16th-century manor house. were also accomplices in continue to flock to the Île de created in 1897. Some 1,500
Chair) and another beach, Le
smuggling. In the 18th century,
it became the see of the diocese
plants from southern Africa,
Bréhat (see p104).
California and New Zealand
of Léon. The clergy’s powerful
Most of the islanders are
Cosmeur. There are also views
R Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-
contraband tea, brandy and
of the Île Callot, with sandy influence here is evident both Kreisker other liquor left Roscoff to be market gardeners. The seaweed thrive in the island’s
important buildings and inlets, and the Île Louët, a small from the number of religious Town centre. Tel (02) 98 69 05 69. landed in Britain. Shipowners that they spread on their small gentle microclimate.
island with a lighthouse and a
Open daily. 8 Belfry (summer). &
plots of land helps produce the
institutions – monastic
grew prosperous, as the fine
best fruit and vegetables in
houses that they built in Rue
keeper’s cottage, as well as the
Y Jardin Exotique
other major sights. Château du Taureau. The castle Armand-Rousseau, Rue Amiral- the region. Georges-Delaselle
was built by the inhabitants of
Réveillère and Place Lacaze-
From the landing stage, an
Porzan Iliz. Tel (02) 98 61 75 65.
alley to the right leads to the
Duthiers clearly show.
Open Apr–Oct: daily. & 8
Morlaix as a defence against
the incursions of English A small museum presents the
pirates. Strengthened by history of the Johnnies, which
Vauban, it later became a was the name given to the
prison. Guided tours of the Roscoff producers who went to
château include not just the Great Britain to sell their
garrison but also a boat trip. distinctive pink onions.
In Carantec itself, the small
Musée Maritime contains E Maison des Johnnies et de
some vintage sailing boats, l’Oignon Rose
including a boat in which 193 48 Rue Brizeau. Tel (02) 98 61 25 48.
British pilots and members of Open mid-Jun–mid-Sep: Mon–Fri;
the Résistance crossed the mid-Sep–mid-Jun: Mon, Tue, Thu & Fri
Channel during World War II. View of St-Pol-de-Léon from the belfry of Notre-Dame-du-Kreisker pm. Closed Jan. & 8 obligatory. Île de Batz, a small treeless island with sandy beaches, off Roscoff
For hotels and restaurants see pp226–7 and pp238–9
006-007_EW_Brittany.indd 6 11/3/16 1:01 PM


Major Towns
4An introduction covers the history,
character and geography of the town.
The main sights are described individually
and plotted on a Town Map.
Practical Information lists all the
138  BRIT T AN Y REGION B Y REGION BREST  139 information you need to visit every
y Brest R Église St-Louis VISITORS’ CHECKLIST sight such as address, telephone
Place St-Louis, Rue de Lyon.
The second-largest town in Brittany after Rennes, Brest has Open daily. 7 Practical Information
always played a leading military role. From the early days of Built between 1953 and 1958 on Road map: B2. * 156,200. number, open and closed dates.
the Roman Empire, legionnaires had seen the advantage of the site of the original church of n Place de la Liberté; (02) 98 44
24 96. ( Mon–Sat in Halles
St-Louis, which was destroyed in
establishing a secure base on the rocky spur here, overlooking 1944, this place of worship is the St-Martin. _ Fête Internationale
a river, the Penfeld, and perfectly protected by a peninsula, largest of all those built in France de la Mer et des Marins (mid-Jul;
the Presqu’île de Crozon. At the instigation of Richelieu, in the post-war period. every four years; next in 2016);
Colbert and Vauban, who throughout the 17th century The materials used – yellow Jeudis du Port (Jul–Aug); Festival
International du Film Court (Nov);
worked to transform this natural harbour into the kingdom’s stone from Logonna-Daoulas Astropolis electro music festival
foremost naval base, life in the city revolved around the naval and reinforced concrete – are a (late Jul/Aug).
clear departure from Breton
dockyard. Brest remained a major shipyard until World War II. architectural traditions, and they ∑
After 165 bombing raids and 43 days of siege, the conflict produce an admirable effect. Transport
reduced Brest to rubble. The bold lines and restrained k Brest-Bretagne, 9 km
(5.5 miles) from the town centre.
decoration of the interior are no £ Place du 19e-R-I.
less impressive. @ Place du 19e-R-I.
The church has two notable La Mer Jaune, by Georges Lacombe, Musée des Beaux-Arts
features: stained-glass windows
on the west front, by Paul Bony, E Musée des Beaux-Arts There is a fine collection of
and a lectern in the shape of 24 Rue Traverse. Tel (02) 98 00 87 96. Baroque paintings on the first a Dutch artist who painted The Town Map shows all main
an eagle, one of the very few Open Tue–Sat, Sun pm. Closed Public floor, where Guerchin’s Judith siege and battle scenes for
pieces that were salvaged from holidays. & and Holophernes is the Louis XV. Although the artist
the original church. The original collection held by centrepiece, and an interesting took liberties with his depiction through roads as well as minor
this museum was quite literally assemblage of paintings by of the course of the Penfeld
P Quartier St-Martin annihilated by bombing in members of the Pont-Aven river, this painting is of great
The former outlying district 1941. However, thanks to the School (see p175) on the documentary value as it shows streets of interest to visitors. All
of St-Martin, which became efforts of the curator, the ground floor. Among the most in minute detail the work
part of Brest in 1861, is one collection has been rebuilt, notable works in the collection carried out by convicts and
of the few surviving quarters now consisting of around 300 are Vue du Port de Brest by carpenters in the naval
of the old town. It is also one works of art. Louis-Nicolas Van Blarenberghe, dockyards of Brest in 1774. the sights are plotted, along with
French Navy training ships at the start of the “Challenge of Schooners” in Brest of the most convivial, judging
by the cafés and Irish pubs
Exploring Brest everywhere the cry of seagulls. here, which attract many Brest City Centre 8 km (5 miles) Aéroport the bus and train stations, parking,
A city of rigidly straight streets, Of special interest are the students from the Université 1 Rue de Siam St-Martin MORLAIX
regimented residential blocks opportunity to experience the de Bretagne Occidentale. 2 Église St-Louis Quartier
and lifeless districts, Brest, which undersea world at Océanopolis Retired people and idle 3 Musée des Beaux-Arts RUE DE GLASCOW St-Martin tourist offices and churches.
was entirely rebuilt after World (see p141) and, every four years, onlookers also gather here, to 4 Cours Dajot AVE FOCH R. DUPLEIX
War II, cannot be described as a the great international gathering stroll in the market or play boules 5 Quartier St-Martin R. DE KÉRABÉCAM RUE JEAN-JAURÈS St-Michel
prime tourist destination. Yet, of tall ships in the harbour. on Place Guérin, between the 6 Musée National de la Marine AVENUE GEORGES de Ville Hôtel
visitors who take the trouble to school and the Église St-Martin 7 Naval Dockyard DUQUESNE PL.DE LA RUE VICTOR-HUGO
explore it will be rewarded. P Rue de Siam (1875), two buildings that 8 Quartier de Recouvrance LIBERTÉ RU E BR ANDA
Although there are few old The name of this lively survived the wartime bombings. 9 Musée du Vieux Brest Église St-Louis DU GEN. D. LECLERC RUE Y VES - C O LL E T
buildings here, the town has a commercial thoroughfare RUE DE LYON Halles St-Louis PLACE CLÉMENCEAU Conservatoire
pervading and stimulating naval commemorates the arrival in RUE MICHELET Gare
atmosphere. There are dry docks, Brest of ambassadors sent by Naval Penfeld BD JEAN MOULIN PLACE RUE COLBERT Routière BD GAMBET T A Gare SNCF
warships in the naval dockyard, the king of Siam to the court of Dockyard RUE LOUIS-PASTEUR DE LA TOUR Jardin Pr. J. Kennedy 19EME R.I. PLACE
vessels in the roadstead Louis XIV in 1686. RUE AV AMIRAL
(sheltered anchorage), where More prosaically, Rue de Quartier de RUE DU CHÂTEAU REVEILLÈRE Square
there is a viewing platform, and Siam is a perfect example of Pont de A. Juin PEN QU ER
1950s town planning. It has a Recouvrance RUE EMILE ZOLA JEAN MACÉ Palais de RUE AMIRAL TROUDE
very uniform appearance. Here, RUE ADMIRAL LINOIS RUE D'AIGUILLON RUE VOLTAIRE Justice
as in the entire district between Musée de la BD D ES FRANCAIS LIBRES RUE P. BROSSOLETTE AV SALAUN RUE DE L'ELARN Océanopolis
RUE MONGE des Beaux-Arts
Tour Tanguy
the town hall, large four-storey Château AV FR. ROOSEVELT RUE JEAN MARIA QUAI A. CONSIDERE
residential buildings are QUAI DE LA DOUANE
arranged symmetrically on a
strictly rectilinear axis. However, de la Marine
the installation, in 1988, of Port de
seven black fountains by the 0 metres 200 Port du QUAI CDT. MALBERT Commerce
Rue de Siam, Brest’s lively commercial Hungarian sculptor Marta Pan The Neo-Romanesque-Gothic church in the 0 yards 200 Château
has given the Rue de Siam a
thoroughfare noticeable lift. Quartier St-Martin
For hotels and restaurants see pp226–7 and pp238–9 For keys to symbols see back flap
. Covered Market
Street-by-Street: Quimper The market (Les Halles) VISITORS’ CHECKLIST
is open every day. It
Founded by Gauls on the site of the present Locmaria plays a prominent part Practical Information
district, downstream from the present city centre, the in the life of the city. * 67,250. n Place de la
town was later named Aquilonia (Town of Eagles) by the Résistance; (02) 98 53 04 05.
( Wed & Sat, Boulevard du
Romans. For centuries, it was then known as Quimper- Moulin au Duc. _ Salon Bande
Corentin, after Corentine, its first bishop. The city stands Dessinée et Disque (Feb), Festival
Street-by-Street Map at the confluence (kemper) of the Steir and the Odet de Cornouaille (third week in Jul),
Les Semaines Musicales de
rivers. Rampart walks, project ing towers and walls
Quimper (Aug), Les Jeudis de
Musée Departemental Breton
houses now alternate with later mansions and modern
5Towns or districts of survive in the old town, although old timber-framed Founded in 1846, the museum is Rue St-François l’Évêché (mid-Jun–mid-Sep).
housed in the bishops’ palace.
architecture. Recent building work has revealed
substantial remains of the medieval city.
k Aéroport de Quimper-
special interest to visitors A M I R A L D E K E R G U É N L E N O D E T In the 18th century, Cornouaille, Pluguffan.
£ Avenue de la Gare. @
crown judges lived in
this street, which is lined
with tall houses.
are shown in detailed 3D, Odet River
with photographs of the R U E D U R O I R U E D U PA R C O D E T
most important sights. R U E D U F R O U T G R A D LO N R U E D U PA R C
This gives a bird’s-eye view . Cathédrale St-Corentin P L AC E
S A I N T -
Built in the 13th and 14th CO R E N T I N
of towns or districts of centuries, on the site of a L A M A I R I E
Roman temple, the cathedral
was later sumptuously
special interest. renovated (see pp168–9). R U E R U E S A I N T F R A N ÇO I S RUE DE LA GRANDIÉRE QUAI DU STEIR Rue Kéréon
The finest and oldest timber-
framed houses in Quimper are in
Rue Kéreon (Shoemakers’ Street),
which has a medieval
lined with timber-
A suggested route for a walk R U E D E S B O U C H E R I E S R U E RUE DE LA HALLE Place Terre-au-Duc is
framed houses.
covers the most interesting PL. AU BEURRE R U E D U S A L L É AU D U C 0 metres 50
streets in the area. K É R É O N 0 yards 50
. Musée des R U E RUE DE LA HERSE
René Laënnec Beaux-Arts D E S P L AC E The Steir river
runs through the
This statue honours Built in 1872 by the Quimper G E N T I L S H O M M E S M É DA R D old quarters of Key
the inventor of the architect Joseph Bigot, it the city. Suggested route
stethoscope, who contains collections of Flemish
died in 1826. and Italian paintings.
214  BRIT T AN Y REGION B Y REGION For hotels and restaurants see p227 and pp239–41 NANTES  215
Château des Ducs de Bretagne Grand Gouvernement VISITORS’ CHECKLIST
The ducal palace, known
On the banks of the Loire, the Château des Ducs de Bretagne was since the 17th century as Practical Information
the Grand Gouvernement
founded in the 13th century, and served both as a residen tial (Governor’s Great Palace), 4 Place Marc-Elder. Tel 08 11 46 A Visitors’ Checklist gives
46 44. Ramparts and courtyard:
palace and military fortress. Anne of Brittany was born here in has been restored to its Open daily. Musée d’Histoire:
1477, and it is here that Henri IV is supposed to have signed the original splendour. The Open Sep–Jun: Tue–Sun;
double staircase leads up
Edict of Nantes in 1598. Over the centuries, the castle was to a single row of steps Jul–Aug: daily. 7 0 & contact points for tourist and
continually remodelled. The sturdy towers and drawbridge are beneath a porch. (museum only; moat ditches,
courtyard and sentry walk free).
counterbalanced by delicate Renaissance buildings facing on to ∑
the courtyard. Converted into barracks in the 18th century, the . Grand Logis transport information, plus
castle passed into state ownership after World War I. A restor ation The façade bears the . Vieux Donjon
pro gramme to return the buildings to their original appearance coat of arms of Louis The polygonal keep, details of market days and
XII and Anne
was carried out between 1993 and 2006. The castle now contains of Brittany. built in the 14th
a major museum of the history of Nantes, with more than century on the orders
850 historical objects arranged across 32 rooms. of Jean IV de Montfort, local festival dates.
is the oldest part of the
castle. It is attached to
Entrance to the 18th-century
caretaker’s lodge.
The top sights
Petit Gouvernement
Built in the 16th century,
during the reign of François I, . Tour du Fer-à-Cheval
the king’s apartments are This shield decorates the 6These are given two or
now known as the Petit keystone of the vaulting
Gouvernement (Governor’s inside the Tour du Fer-à-
Small Palace). The dormer Cheval (Horseshoe Tower).
windows are typical of Guarding the northwest more pages. Important
the Renaissance. corner of the castle, it is a
fine example of 15th-century
military architecture.
KEY buildings are dissected
1 Courtine de la Loire, the wall
linking Tour de la Rivière and Tour du Illustrious Guests
Port, was built in the 15th and
16th centuries. Many famous people have passed through to reveal their interiors;
The wedding of François II of Brittany and
2 Tour du Port was hidden by a the gates of the Château des Ducs de Bretagne.
bastion for 200 years. The bastion Marguerite de Foix took place here in 1471, and
was demolished in 1853. it was also here that their daughter, Anne, museums have
3 The castle museum is devoted Duchess of Brittany, was married to Louis XII in
to regional folk art of the 16th 1499. In 1532, François I of France came here to
to 20th centuries. Henri IV mark the “permanent union of the duchy and
4 Bastion St-Pierre, built in the Tour de la Rivière (1553–1610) country of Brittany with the kingdom of France”, colour-coded floorplans
as an inscrip tion in the courtyard recalls. Henri II,
16th century, was levelled off Forming part of the then Charles IX, also stayed in the castle. In
in 1904. castle’s sys tem of 1598, Henri IV thrashed out the terms of the Edict de Nantes, which
5 The Harness Room was built defences, the Tour de legalized Protestantism. He may even have signed the edict at the to help you locate the
by the army in the 17th and la Rivière consists of castle. Louis XIV also stayed here when he came to Nantes in 1661,
18th cen turies. two floors with a during a gathering of the States of Brittany.
terrace above.
For hotels and restaurants see p229 and p243 most interesting exhibits.
Key indicate the features
no visitor should miss.
006-007_EW_Brittany.indd 7 11/3/16 1:01 PM

BT_008-009.indd 8 17/12/14 4:50 pm



Discovering Brittany 10–15

Putting Brittany on the Map 16–17
A Portrait of Brittany 18–33
Brittany Through the Year 34–39
The History of Brittany 40–53

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Discovering Brittany

The following itineraries have been designed family­friendly activities. Finally, there is a
to take in the highlights of Brittany with a two­week itinerary that covers the attractions
minimum of driving. The first itinerary out­ of northern Brittany between Rennes and Brest,
lined here is a week’s tour of southwestern including the two cities and encompassing
Brittany that takes in some of the region’s the stunning Côte de Granite Rose, Mont­St­
most beautiful towns and cities, coastal Michel and St­Malo. Additional suggestions
resorts and the megalithic wonders around are included for visitors who wish to extend
the Golfe du Morbihan. Next is a week in the stay for one or more days. Split, combine
southern Brittany based around the lively and follow your favourite tours or simply
city of Nantes – a tour with a number of be inspired.

Île de
Perros-Guirec Tréguier
Île de Batz
Cairn de Paimpol
Keremma Carantec Barnenez Lannion
Lesneven Château St-Cast-Le Cancale
Île de Kerjean Mont-
d’Ouessant Le Folgoët Morlaix Sables-d'Or-les-Pins Guildo Dinard St-Malo St-Michel
St- St-Thégonnec St-Briac St-Lunaire
Renan Landerneau Guimillau Pléneuf Mont-Dol
La Martyre Val-André Dol-de-
Le Conquet Brest CÔTES St-Brieuc Bretagne Menhir du
Daoulas D’ARMOR Champ-Dolent
0 km 30 Dinan
Camaret Landévennec
0 miles 15 Crozon Rance
Pleyben ILLE-ET- Fougères
Rennes Vitré
Kernascléden Forêt de
Quimper Pontivy Paimpont Château des
A Week in Concarneau Quimperlé Josselin Ploërmel
Southwestern Pont-Aven MORBIHAN
Brittany Vilai ne
Îles de Glénan Lorient
• Admire the magnificent
altarpiece of the Ten Île de Groix Auray Vannes Redon
Thousand Martyrs in Crozon. Carnac Questembert
Parc Zoologique
• Discover the secrets of Cairn de
Presqu’île de Gavrinis de Branféré LOIRE-
Quimper’s colourful Quiberon ATLANTIQUE
glazed pottery. Île de La Roche- Brest Erdre
• Hike along the scenic Pointe Belle-Île- Houat Parc Régional
en-Mer de Brière
du Cabellou promontory, Île de Guérande
just south of the evocative Hoëdic Le Croisic La Baule St-Nazaire
walled port of Concarneau. Pornichet
• Wander through the pretty Loire
lanes and art galleries of Pornic
• Explore some of Brittany’s Île de
most breathtaking coasts
and beaches, along the
Presque’île de Quiberon.
• Marvel at Carnac’s
extraordinary megalithic
alignements, and the
Cairn de Gavrinis, France’s The dock at Concarneau
largest dolmen. Yachts, trawlers and sardine boats dot the dock of Concarneau, one
of France’s leading fishing ports. The Musée de la Pêche, at the entrance
to the ville close, offers an insight into the town’s maritime history.
BT_010-011.indd 10 17/12/14 4:48 pm

Disc overing brit t an y  11

Two Weeks in Northern Brittany

• Explore Brittany’s largest • Identify the curious
market at the Place des eroded shapes in the
Lices in Rennes. Côte de Granite Rose
• Tour the mighty medieval around Perros-Guirec.
castles in Vitré and • Descend in a glass-lined
Fougères. lift into a pod of sharks
• Visit spectacular Mont- at the remarkable
St-Michel and its abbey, Océanopolis in Brest.
majestically isolated in • Admire the scenery
a sweeping tidal bay. of cliffs and beaches at
• Imagine the lives of the Le Conquet, and sail to
corsairs in the granite France’s westernmost
Île de point, the Île
Bréhat walled port of St-Malo.
Perros-Guirec Tréguier d’Ouessant.
Île de Batz
Cairn de Paimpol
Keremma Carantec Barnenez Lannion Château de Vitré
Lesneven Château St-Cast-Le Cancale Perched on a rocky outcrop, the
Île de Kerjean Mont-
d’Ouessant Le Folgoët Morlaix Sables-d'Or-les-Pins Guildo Dinard St-Malo St-Michel imposing Château de Vitré houses
St- St-Thégonnec St-Briac St-Lunaire an excellent museum that contains
Renan Landerneau Guimillau Pléneuf Mont-Dol medieval and Renaissance sculpture,
La Martyre Val-André Dol-de-
Le Conquet Brest CÔTES St-Brieuc Bretagne Menhir du Breton paintings as well as 16th- and
Daoulas D’ARMOR Dinan Champ-Dolent 17th-century tapestries.
Camaret Landévennec
Crozon Rance
Pleyben ILLE-ET- Fougères
Rennes Vitré
Kernascléden Forêt de
Quimper Pontivy Paimpont Château des
Concarneau Josselin
Quimperlé Ploërmel
Îles de Glénan Lorient Vilai ne Southern Brittany
Auray • Ride a giant mechanical
Île de Groix Vannes Redon
Carnac Questembert elephant at Les Machines
Parc Zoologique d’Île in Nantes.
Cairn de
Presqu’île de Gavrinis de Branféré LOIRE-
Quiberon ATLANTIQUE • Seek out the Tomb of Merlin
La Roche-
Bernard Erdre and the Fountain of Youth in
Île de Brest
Belle-Île- Houat the Forêt de Paimpont.
en-Mer Parc Régional
Guérande de Brière • Watch the colourful exotic
Île de
Hoëdic Le Croisic La Baule St-Nazaire bird show in the Parc
Pornichet Zoologique de Branféré.
• Take a boat ride past
Pornic thatched cottages in the
Parc Naturel Régional de
Île de la Grande Brière.
• Relax on the sandy beaches
of La Baule, and encounter
creatures from the deep at
the Océarium du Croisic.
• Discover the history of the
Key great Transatlantic ocean
Two Weeks in Northern Brittany liners at Escal-Atlantique in
A Week in Southwestern Brittany St-Nazaire.
A Week in Southern Brittany
BT_010-011.indd 11 17/12/14 4:48 pm


A Week in and illuminated by 15th-century
Southwestern stained glass windows. Take time
Brittany to explore the nearby Musée
des Beaux-Arts (p167), with
• Airport Arrive at the Brest- works by the Pont-Aven school,
Bretagne Airport. and the Musée Départemental
• Transport A car is essential Breton d’Art et de Traditions
for the trip. Populaires (pp166–7), covering
3,000 years of Breton history
• Moving on Depart from
Rennes by train or bus. and traditional costumes. If time
allows, head for the Musée de
la Faïence (p168) in the historic
Day 1: Landévennec to Locmaria district, which explains
Quimper why Quimper makes faïence,
Head southeast from the Brest- along with a display of historic
Bretagne airport to take the pottery. Top it all off with a
scenic Corniche de Térénez to factory tour of Faïencierie
Landévennec (p152) to see the HB-Henriot (p168). A cluster of half-timbered medieval houses
ruins of the abbey and explore in Vannes
the Musée de l’Ancienne Day 3: Concarneau
Abbaye. Drive on to Crozon Known as the “Blue Town” after an insight into the town’s
(p152) to swim in its turquoise the blue fishing nets used in the history. From here, take the
lagoons and relax on its sandy early 20th century, the walled highway east to Quimperlé
beaches. While here, visit the Concarneau (pp172–4) is the (p175), an impressive town of
Église St-Pierre to marvel at the sixth-largest fishing port in France. noble residences and churches.
extraordinary 16th-century Visit the Musée de la Pêche
altarpiece of the Ten Thousand (p174) which houses maritime Day 5: Kernascléden, Pontivy
Martyrs, with its 24 sculpted exhibits as well as an aquarium and Josselin
wooden, painted panels. Carry containing Atlantic fish species. Delve inland to Kernascléden
on to Camaret (pp152–3) for a A short walk south west is the (p201) to see eerie frescoes
tour of Vauban’s fortifi cations; Marinarium (p174), one of depicting the Dance of Death in
on the outskirts are the 142 Europe’s first marine research the village’s 15th-century church.
menhirs of the Alignements de stations. After a seafood lunch, Carry on to Pontivy (p200) for a
Lagatjar (p153). End the day at take a walk around the nearby stroll around the medieval town
Pleyben (pp156–7), renowned Pointe du Cabellou (p174), a that sprawls out around the
for its unique dark granite beautiful promontory lined imposing Château des Rohans.
“Gospel in Stone” calvary. with sandy coves. Round off the day in Josselin
(p197) with a tour of its impres-
Day 2: Quimper Day 4: Pont-Aven and sive Flamboyant-Gothic chateau
Spend a day in the historical, Quimperlé and the Basilique Notre-Dame-
faïence-manufacturing town of Drive to the famous 19th-century du-Roncier, which shelters a
Quimper (pp164–71). Start at the artists’ colony of Pont-Aven miraculous statue of the Virgin.
covered market and walk along (p175), where Paul Gauguin
Rue Kéréon and its surrounding painted many of his early Day 6–7: Vannes and the
streets to see Quimper’s tradi- masterpieces. Spend time Golfe du Morbihan
tional corbelled houses. Next, explor ing the town’s various A 45-minute drive from Josselin,
visit the Cathédrale St-Corentin art galleries housing works Vannes (pp192–5) is a beautiful
(pp168–9), a Romanesque Gothic by contempo rary artists. The medieval city. Begin at the
masterpiece dating back to 1239 Musée de Pont-Aven provides splendid Cathédrale St-Pierre
(p194), and then head to the
nearby Musée de la Cohue
(p194) to explore its fine
collection of works, includ ing
Delacroix’s celebrated
Crucifixion. Later, visit the
Musée d’Histoire (p195), filled
with intriguing prehistoric relics.
Vannes makes a superb base
for exploring the Golfe du
Morbihan (pp188–91). The main
attraction here is the Cairn de
Gavrinis (p190) – the largest
dolmen in France. Around 30
View of the 17th-century cloisters at Ste-Anne-d’Auray km (19 miles) west of the town
For practical information on travelling around Brittany, see pp266–71

012-015_EW_Brittany.indd 12 11/3/16 12:41 PM


are the astonishing alignments
of Carnac (pp184–5). Don’t miss
the enormous broken menhir
and tumulus at Locmariaquer
(p186), a short distance east of
Carnac. Take in the breathtaking
scenery along the Presque’île
de Quiberon (p181) on the way
to Auray (pp186–7), which
boasts the great pilgrimage
church, Ste-Anne d’Auray
(p187), then head to the train
station at Rennes.
To extend your trip…
Spend a couple of days
exploring the islands in
the Golfe du Morbihan: Outdoor café in the walled old town of Guérande
Belle-Île-en-Mer (pp182–3),
the Île de Houat (p182), and Day 3: Redon and Paimpont charming Guérande (p206),
the Île de Hoëdic (p183). Drive to Redon (p70) to see the the Renaissance walled town
9th-century Benedictine abbey synonymous with France’s
of St-Sauveur, with a triple-tiered gourmet table salt. Soak up
A Week in Romanesque belfry. From there, local history walking around the
Southern Brittany carry on north to Paimpont (p68), old town and ramparts, before
which serves as the starting visit ing the Musée de la Poupée
• Airport Arrive and depart point for hikes in the Forêt de et du Jouet Ancien, famous for
from the Nantes-Atlantique Paimpont (p68) – the magical its historic toy collection.
Airport. Forêt de Brocéliande of Arthurian
• Transport A car is essential legend. Browse exhibits at the Day 6: Le Croisic and
for this trip. Centre de l’Imaginaire Arthurien La Baule
that occupies the Château de Drive west to the tip of the
• Moving on Depart Nantes
by train or bus. Comper, which is said to have Presque’île de Guérande for a
been the home of the fabled morning at the fishing port of
fairy Vivian. Later, follow the D31 Le Croisic (p206). Stop by the
Day 1–2: Nantes to seek out Merlin’s Tomb and Océarium du Croisic (p206) to
Begin with a tour of the the Fountain of Youth. observe marine life from the
pedestrianized Place du Bouffay Atlantic, and then head to the
(p210), and then walk northeast Day 4: Ploërmel to La Roche- nearby Musée des Marais
to the Cathédrale St-Pierre-et- Bernard Salants (p206), dedicated to
St-Paul (p212). Set aside plenty Proceed west to Ploërmel the history of the local salt
of time to explore the history (p197) to admire the striking marshes and salt pans. In the
museum in the Renaissance reliefs on the Église St-Armel afternoon, relax on the long
Château des Ducs de Bretagne and the Maison des Marmousets. sandy beaches of La Baule
(pp214–15). Afterwards, go to Make a stopover at Questembert (p207) or Pornichet (p207).
the Musée d’Arts (p212) which (p196) to see its remarkable
houses works by Monet, Rubens covered market, before heading Day 7: St-Nazaire and Pornic
and Courbet. to La Roche-Bernard (p196) on In the great ship-building port
Start the next day at the the Vilaine estuary. Here, visit of St-Nazaire (p207), learn all
Neo-Classical Quartier Graslin the Musée de la Vilaine about the various aspects of
(p210), and then head for the Maritime, then spend the rest its main industry at the STX
Musée Thomas Dobrée (p211) of the day in the colourful Chantiers de l’Atlantique, where
nearby to see his excellent private botanical gardens of the Parc cruise liners are built. Next,
collection of paintings, tapestries Zoologique de Branféré. check out the Escal-Atlantic’s
and armour. While away the exhibition on historic ocean
afternoon in the 19th-century Day 5: Parc Regionale de la liners. After lunch, explore
Passage Pommeraye shopping Grande Brière and Guérande the Écomusée devoted to the
arcade (pp210–11), before visit- Take a boat tour of the Parc natural history of the Loire
ing the Musée Jules-Verne Régionale de la Grande Brière estuary. While here, take a tour of
(p213). Don’t miss the Les (pp208–209) past thatched the French submarine L’Espadon.
Machines de l’Île (p213), where cottages and fascinating Spend the afternoon exploring
artist-engineers create delightful Neolithic monuments, including the lavish 19th-century resort
handcrafted steam punk rides the impressive La Barbière village of Pornic (p216) before
and installations. dolmen. Afterwards, drive to returning to Nantes.

012-015_EW_Brittany.indd 13 11/3/16 12:41 PM


Marquise de Sévigné. From here, crowned with a lofty dome and
drive 8 km (5 miles) northwest full of artistic treasures, includ-
to the picturesque fortified town ing 13th-century stained glass
of Vitré. Spend time explor ing windows and one of the region’s
the impressive chateau- oldest Renaissance tombs.
museum that displays the Afterwards, make your way up
precious 16th-century triptych the granite outcrop of Mont-Dol
of Limoges enamels. Afterwards, (p77), which was once an island
visit the majestic Église Notre- like Mont-St-Michel and famous
Dame (p72). In the afternoon, for its breathtaking views over
carry on north to Fougères the surrounding area.
(p73) to explore the ramparts of
its great medieval military castle Day 5–6: St-Malo and around
set with 13 towers. End the Famous for its bold corsairs and
day at the Musée Emmanuel- long sandy beaches, St-Malo
Exquisitely carved exterior of the Hôtel de de-La Villéon (p73) filled with (pp84–9) is worth a day’s explo-
Ville, Rennes Impressionist paintings of ration. Arrive at the imposing
Breton landscapes and scenes Porte St-Vincente (p84), the
Two Weeks in of daily life. main entrance into the city, and
Northern Brittany head straight to the Cathédrale
Day 3–4: Mont-St-Michel St-Vincent (p86) to see its magni-
• Airports International as well and around ficent interiors. From here, head
as domestic flights serve Travel northwest to the rocky to the Musée d’Histoire (p88),
both Rennes-St-Jacques and islet of Mont-St-Michel (pp78– devoted to St-Malo’s fascinating
Brest-Bretagne. 81), one of France’s best-known history. Afterwards, check out
• Transport A car is essential landmarks, with its pyramid- the aristocratic Hôtel Magon-
for this trip. shaped pile of abbey and town d’Asfeld (p87) to see how the
majestically rising out of the city’s wealthy corsairs once lived.
tidal bay. Devote the first day Next day, visit the nearby oyster
Day 1: Rennes to exploring the abbey. Marvel farms in Cancale (p83), and pack
The regional capital of Brittany, at its towering spire, before a picnic lunch for a hike along
Rennes (pp62–7) is dotted heading to the beautiful Abbey the coastal cliffs overlooking
with handsome timber-framed Church. Pause awhile to admire the English Channel; be sure to
houses and Neo-Classical public the Norman Gothic cloister, and arrange a taxi for a ride back.
buildings. Start with a stroll then make your way to the Drive across the Rance to spend
around the Place des Lices abbey’s 13th-century Gothic some time in Dinard (pp90–91),
(p64), and then walk south to masterpiece, Le Merveille, built home to grand 19th-century
Cathédrale St-Pierre (p64) to directly into the rock face. mansions. See the 11th-century
see its 16th-century Flemish Allow a day to explore the church of St-Lunaire (p91),
altarpiece. Next, visit the Neo- fascinating Baie du Mont-St- before going for a stroll along
Classical Hôtel de Ville (p64) and Michel (p77) and its environs. the Chemin des Peintres in
theatre (p64), before checking Begin at the Menhir de Camp St-Briac (p91), where Renoir and
out the nearby Parlement de Dolent (p76), the tallest and Signac once set up their easels.
Bretagne (pp66–7). Later, head finest of Brittany’s standing
to the Musée des Beaux-Arts stones. A short drive northwest Day 7: Dinan
(p65) that houses works by lies Dol-de-Bretagne (p76), Drive south along the Rance
Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. site of the colossal and splendid River to picturesque Dinan
After lunch, drive out to the Cathédrale St-Samson (p79), (pp114–17), renowned for its
medieval town of La Guerche-
en-Bretagne (p71) to appreciate
the carvings depicting the
Seven Deadly Sins on the choir
stalls of its Flamboyant-Gothic
church. Round off the day at
the enigmatic La Roche aux Fées
(p71), one of the region’s most
spectacular Megalithic marvels
with four chambers constructed
from 41 enormous stones.
Day 2: Vitré and Fougères
Head for the elegant Château
des Rochers-Sévigné (p72),
which was once home to the The stately grounds of Château des Rochers-Sévigné
For practical information on travelling around Brittany, see pp266–71

012-015_EW_Brittany.indd 14 11/3/16 12:41 PM


parish closes at St-Thégonnec
(pp144–5) and Guimiliau (p144),
followed by the exquisite
16th-century church at Bodilis
(p143), with a beautiful porch
and richly painted beams. In
the afternoon, take a tour of
the Château de Kerjean (p130–
31), which boasts features of a
classic French chateau as well
as a traditional Breton manor.
Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll
among the scenic dunes at
Keremma (p129), just east
of Goulven (pp128–9).
The imposing Fort La Latte looking out over the sea
Day 12: Lesneven to Brest
fine half-timbered houses, Day 9: St-Brieuc to Start in Lesneven (p129) at
notably around Place des Perros-Guirec the Musée du Léon, which
Merciers (p115). Explore the In the morning, drive to St-Brieuc documents the local history.
historic walled town and its (p108) for a walk around its Next, visit the 15th-century
harbour, before heading to the historic centre, and a visit to the pilgrimage church Basilique
splendid Romanesque-Gothic Cathédrale St-Étienne to admire Notre-Dame in Le Folgoët
St-Sauveur (pp116–17), founded its glorious Rococo altarpiece. (p129), before heading to
by a crusader, and then Église Then, follow the coast west to Brest (pp138–41) to get up
St-Malo (p116), which boasts a the old fishing port of Paimpol close to the sharks and other
fine Renaissance door way. (p105) for a wander among the marine creatures inhabiting
Climb up to the platform at the romantic ruins of the Abbaye de the tanks of Océanopolis
top of the castle keep to soak in Beauport. After lunch, go to (p141). Afterwards, stroll amidst
gorgeous views over the town. Tréguier (p106) to see the impres- the fascinating botanical
sive Cathédrale St-Tugdual wonders of the Conservatoire
Day 8: Cap Fréhel and (pp106–107). End the day with Botanique (p141).
Pléneuf-Val-André a tour of the pink granite coast
Head to the coastal resort of around Perros-Guirec (p101); Day 13–14: Brest and around
St-Cast-Le Guildo (p113) to take spend the night in Lannion (p99). Begin the day with an exploration
an hour-long boat trip on the of the Musée du Vieux Brest (p140),
old sailing boat, the Dragous, Day 10: Morlaix to Carantec before heading to the Musée des
to the mighty Fort La Latte Visit Morlaix (pp122–5), once Beaux-Arts (p139). Devote the
(p113), which was the scene a major shipping port on the rest of the day to touring
of battles during the Hundred English Channel; today, its westernmost Finistère. Drive out
Years’ War. The trip also affords harbour hosts a flotilla of pleasure to visit the remarkable church at
views of one of the most boats. Take a walk around town La Martyre (p143), then head a
beautiful landscapes in all of to see its fine historic houses and short distance west to see the
Brittany: the majestic, sheer pink church buildings. Spend time attractive riverbank houses and
cliffs and promontory of Cap exploring the Musée de Morlaix habitable bridge at Landerneau
Fréhel (p113). After the boating (p123–24), with a beautifully (pp142–3). Travel south to
excursion, drive west to Sables- carved granite spiral staircase Daoulas (p142) to see the
d’Or-Les-Pins (p112), for a swim and fire place. From here, walk to beautiful cloisters and gar dens
or walk along the beautiful Cap the Église St-Matthieu to see a of the abbey. Next day, visit
d’Erquy, before travelling to the rare 14th-century statue of the St-Renan (p134), with its rich
chic holiday resort of Pléneuf- Virgin and Holy Trinity. After history of traditional markets and
Val-André (p112). lunch, drive over to the Cairn de horse fairs. Wind up the day with
Barnenez (p125), Europe’s largest a tour of the stunning cliffs and
To extend your trip… and oldest burial mound dating beaches at Le Conquet.
Take a short boat ride from from 4,500 BC. Later, go to
Pointe de l’Arcouest (p105) Carantec (p126) to explore the To extend your trip…
to spend a day walking or Château du Taureau, built by the Spend a few days exploring
cycling along the paths of locals to defend themselves from France’s westernmost point:
the beautiful Île de Bréhat English pirates. the unspoiled Île Ouessant
(p104), or “Island of Flowers”, (p135), with its lighthouses,
with its charming town, Day 11: St-Thégonnec beaches, and the ancient
Mediterranean flora, and to Goulven cromlech at the Presqui’île
lighthouses. Travel south to see the de Pen ar Lan (p137).
magnificent Renaissance-era

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16  INTRODUCING BRIT T AN Y Harwich Den Haag
Putting Brittany on the Map Reading London NETHERLANDS Essen Göttingen Halle
Ramsgate Dortmund Kassel
Oostende Antwerpen
Surrounded by 2,863 km (1,779 miles) of coastline, Portsmouth Dover Düsseldorf Erfurt
Brittany covers an area of 34,000 sq km (13,125 sq miles), Poole Newhaven Calais Dunkerque
or 6 per cent of French territory. It has over 4 million Bruxelles Köln
inhabitants (7 per cent of the French pop ulation) including Lille BELGIUM Bonn
Loire-Atlantique, and a population density of 119 per sq km Spain E n g l i s h C h a n n e l Liège GERMANY
(308 per sq mile). Over the last 25 years, Brittany’s population Abbeville Douai Koblenz
has increased faster than the national average. The western- Dieppe Amiens Frankfurt
most point of France, Brittany has become an economic hub Cherbourg Charleville- LUXEM- Würzburg
of international importance. Its growing prosperity is Le Havre Rouen Mézièrs Luxembourg
paralleled by a strong cultural identity. Nuremberg
Plymouth, Plymouth, Mannheim
Ireland Weymouth Caen Reims
Roscoff Paris Metz Karlsruhe
St-Malo Rhein Stuttgart
Brest Alençon Nancy Donau
Chartres Seine Strasbourg
Brittany Troyes
Rennes München
Key Lorient Le Mans
Area covered in this guide Mulhouse
Motorway St- Loire Bodensee
Nazaire Angers
Major road Tours Basel Innsbruck
Nantes Loire Dijon
International border Besançon Zürich AUSTRIA
Ferry route Bern
Railway Gijón FRANCE
Les Sables-
d’Olonne Poitiers Mâcon Bolzano
Lac Léman
La Rochelle
Ba y of Clermont- Trento
Bisca y Limoges Ferrand Lyon Chambéry Aosta Bergamo
0 km 100 Saint Milano
0 miles 100
Gaillarde Torino
Bordeaux Grenoble Po
Dordogne Valence Parma
Rodez Cuneo Genova
NOR TH Millau
KINGDOM Albi Avignon La Spezia
REP. OF Nîmes
IRELAND NETHERLANDS POLAND Biarritz Montpellier Nice Monaco Pisa
GERMANY Toulouse Aix-en-Provence Livorno
CZECH Pau Cannes
REPUBLIC Tarbes Sète
SLOVAKIA Carcassonne Marseille
A TLANTIC SLOV. Pamplona Piombino
HERZ. Perpignan
ITALY Andorra Bastia
MONTEN. KOS. Ile Rousse
MAC. S P AIN ANDORRA Mediter r anean Sea
SP AIN GREECE Ebro Corsica
Girona Ajaccio
Lleida Porto-Vecchio Sardinia
For keys to symbols see back flap
016-017_EW_Brittany.indd 16 11/3/16 1:56 PM

Harwich Den Haag PUT TING BRIT T AN Y ON THE M AP  17
Reading London NETHERLANDS Göttingen Halle
Ramsgate Dortmund Kassel
Oostende Antwerpen
Dover Düsseldorf
Portsmouth Erfurt
Poole Dunkerque
Newhaven Calais Bruxelles Köln
E n g l i s h C h a n n e l GERMANY
Spain Lille BELGIUM Liège Bonn
Dieppe Amiens LUXEM-
Cherbourg Charleville- BOURG Würzburg
Le Havre Luxembourg
Plymouth, Plymouth, Mannheim
Ireland Weymouth Caen Reims
Roscoff Paris Metz Karlsruhe
St-Malo Rhein Stuttgart
Brest Alençon Nancy Donau
Chartres Seine Strasbourg
Brittany Troyes
Rennes München
Lorient Le Mans
St- Loire Bodensee
Nazaire Angers
Tours Innsbruck
Nantes Loire Dijon Basel
Besançon Zürich
Les Sables-
d’Olonne Poitiers Mâcon Bolzano
Lac Léman
La Rochelle
Ba y of Clermont- Trento
Bisca y Limoges Ferrand Lyon Chambéry Aosta Bergamo
Saint Milano
Gaillarde Torino
Bordeaux Grenoble Po
Dordogne Valence Parma
Rhône Gap I T A LY
Rodez Cuneo Genova
Albi Avignon La Spezia
Biarritz Montpellier Nice Monaco Pisa
Toulouse Aix-en-Provence Livorno
Pau Tarbes Cannes
Carcassonne Sète Marseille
Narbonne Toulon
Pamplona Piombino
Andorra Ile Rousse Bastia
S P AIN ANDORRA Mediter r anean Sea
Girona Ajaccio
Lleida Porto-Vecchio Sardinia
016-017_EW_Brittany.indd 17 11/3/16 1:56 PM

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With its eventful history, contrasting landscapes, diverse economy and
exceptionally rich cultural heritage, Brittany is a multifaceted region. While
Breton trad itions are very much alive, and while the region is famous for its
menhirs, Brittany has also embraced the technological revolutions of the
modern age. It is, for example, a major centre of the electronics industry.

Brittany consists of two distinct areas: a along the coast and that is used
coastal region and an inland area. This by the food, pharmaceuticals and
is reflected in the Celtic names Armor, cosmetics industries.
meaning “country by the sea”, and Bordered by the English Channel
Argoat, “wooded country”. The coastline and the Atlantic Ocean, Brittany is
consists of a succession of cliffs, dunes, closely associated with seafaring.
estuaries, mud flats and marsh land. The From the monks that sailed from
westernmost point of France, Brittany Britain in their makeshift boats to
sinks beneath the sea, extended by a evan gelize Armorica (the old name
continental shelf. To the north, this shelf for western Brittany), to the interna-
rises to form the British Isles. To the south, tional yachtsmen of today, and includ-
it extends along the coast of Brittany. ing some great explorers and notorious
Since ancient times, this maritime privateers, Brittany’s seamen have
region has provided rich fishing grounds. an illustrious place in the annals of
Today, the abundant fish stocks here are European seafaring. It was shipbuilding
still a mainstay of the Breton economy. and metalworking that stripped the
Another is the seaweed that grows Argoat region of most of its trees,

Stately ships at the Fête Internationale de la Mer et des Marins, a major event held in Brest every four years
Procession with parish banners and traditional costume, at the Grand Pardon in Quimper

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fishing, by contrast, has proved
more resistant to economic instability.
However, while the industry still involves
three-quar ters of Breton fishing vessels,
it has to contend with foreign imports,
falling prices, dwindling fish stocks,
industri al pollution, periodic oil spillages
and competition from fish farming.
The industry is now undergoing
reorgani zation in order to strengthen
Breton lace for sale at a market in Ste-Anne-d’Auray, its infrastructure.
in the Morbihan While fishing has been under threat
for some 50 years, agriculture, food
which had already been heavily crops and tourism underpin the region’s
exploited since Roman times. Only economy. Brittany is the foremost milk
10 per cent of Brittany’s primeval producer in France. It also provides a
forest remains today. quarter of the country’s livestock and
is a prime producer of fruit
A Diverse Economy and veg etables. Breton
Bretons have never been produce is marketed under
daunted by harsh natural such well-known brand
elements. They went as far as names as Saupiquet,
Newfoundland and Ice land Béghin-Say, Petit Navire,
during the peak deep-sea Paysans Bretons, Père Dodu
fishing years of the 19th and Hénaff (a famous pâté).
century, then, following the Manufacturing and the
collapse of that trade, turned Old advertising poster for ser vice industry are also
to factory ships, which Béghin-Say sugar well developed. One Breton
concentrated on the Atlantic in five works in manufacturing
coastlines of Africa, Morocco, Mauritania, or the build ing trade, while one in two
Senegal and South America. Local coastal works in retailing, the service industry or

Bathers enjoy one of the beaches at Perros-Guirec on the Côtes d’Armor

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administration. High- The growth of high-tech
tech industries have establishments can seem
multiplied and many incongruous in this land
technological innova- of menhirs, Romanesque
tions have been devel- chapels, Gothic churches,
oped in the region. fortified castles, coastal
Brittany is also one of forts and 18th-century
the most popular manor houses. Since
tourist destinations Neolithic times, when
in France. menhirs were raised,
and cairns, megalithic
A Culture Revived monuments and other
Traditional Breton music passage graves were built,
underwent a major reli gion has imbued local
revival in the 1960s culture. Romanesque
thanks to Alan Stivell, churches appeared in
Kristen Noguès, Gilles the 11th and 12th cen turies,
Servat and Tri Yann, who, Breton woman at the Festival Interceltique but the golden age of
with others, have been in Lorient religious architecture
promi nent among the came in the 13th century,
bagadou, as Breton with the Gothic period.
musical groups are known. For If religion has left its mark on the
sever al years now, a second wave landscape of Brittany, so has secular life.
in the revival of Breton music has Throughout the Middle Ages, local
turned certain recordings into noblemen, engaged in
bestsellers. Denez Prigent, the wars with France and
pioneer of this generation, has England, built fortresses and
also played a major role in the citadels. Indeed, Brittany is
revival of traditional Breton one of the regions of France
dance and festou-noz, or with the greatest number of
popular Breton dance festivals. Street sign in Quimper his toric monuments. These,
However, the music scene with the local traditions of
in Brittany goes well beyond traditional furniture-making, textiles, gastronomy
forms. In terms of their importance, and painting, contribute to Brittany’s
rock festivals such as the Les Trans fabulously rich cultural heritage.
Musicales in Rennes, the Route du
Rock in St-Malo, and the Festival des
Vieilles Charrues in Carhaix, are on a
par with the great Festival Interceltique
in Lorient.
In parallel with the Breton cultural
revival of the 1960s and 1970s,
the Breton language has also
been re invigorated, thanks most
notably to the establishment of
bilingual schools (known as Diwan).
Although only a minority of Bretons
support this revival, the whole
population is aware of Armorica’s The Roche aux Fées, one of Brittany’s finest megalithic monuments,
great literary heritage. in the Ille-et-Vilaine

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Landscape and Birds of Brittany

Brittany attracts more sea birds than any other
coastal region of France. At the end of the summer,
birds that have nested in northern Europe begin to
appear on the coast of Brittany. While some species
continue on their southern migrations to spend the
winter in warmer climates, many stay in Brittany
until the early spring, when, together with birds
newly returned from the south, they fly north once
again to breed.
Male and female razorbills

Flat, Sandy Coastline Bays and Marshy Coasts
Plants growing on beaches and dunes can Sandy, muddy coastal areas are covered
withstand saline conditions. Sea rocket and with greyish, low-growing vegetation such as
several species of orach grow on the beaches. glasswort, salt-wort and obione, and some times
Among the grasses that take root on the with the purple-flowering sea lavender. These
dunes and prevent them from being eroded plants thrive in saline, waterlogged ground,
by wind, are spurge, sea holly, convolvulus which is washed by the tide twice a day.
and gillyflowers.
The ringed plover
patrols sandy beaches,
where it feeds on marine Sandpipers move
worms, sandhoppers and about in large flocks,
small molluscs. constantly probing the
mud with their beaks.
The European bee-eater is Herring gulls nest in
seen in Brittany from April to northern Europe. At the
September. It overwinters end of August, they arrive
south of the Sahara. in Brittany, where they
spend the winter.

The sanderling, which The pied
breeds in northern oystercatcher can be
Europe, arrives in Brittany seen in Brittany all year
in August. It will either round. It feeds mostly
spend the winter there or on mussels, cockles
fly south to Africa. and winkles.

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The Guillemot
This diving sea bird, with black and white plumage, a short
neck and slender wings, spends the winter on the coasts of
the English Channel and Atlantic Ocean. It nests in colonies on
cliffs at Cap Fréhel and Cap Sizun, at Camaret and on the Sept-
Îles, laying a single egg on a rocky ledge. It can also be seen on
isolated rocks, often with penguins and kittiwakes. During the
breed ing season, its cry is a strident cawing. The young bird
takes to the water 20 days after hatching, but begins to fly only
at two months of age. It feeds mainly on fish, which it catches
A colony of guillemots out at sea by diving to depths of more than 50 m (165 ft).

Cliffs and Rocky Coasts Heathlands of the Interior
Particular types of plants grow on the cliffs. They For much of the year, various species of heathers
include sea pinks, the pink-flowering campion, cover Brittany’s heathlands with a carpet of pink,
golden rod and the yellow- flower ing broom, as which contrasts with the yellow flowers of the
well as sea squill, small species of fern and many gorse and broom. The heathlands are also
varieties of different-coloured lichen. dotted with thickets of bramble and dog-rose.
The fulmar spends most of its time
at sea. It nests on the ledges of
sheer cliffs.

The puffin feeds on fish that
it catches far out at sea. In
spring, it excavates The hen-harrier preys The curlew migrates
deep bur rows where on voles and small from June onwards to
the female lays a birds, which it finds in the Atlantic coast, where
single white egg. open land. large numbers spend
the winter.

The sheerwater’s
only nesting grounds
in France are in
Brittany – on the
Sept-Îles and in the The warbler feeds all
archipelagos of year round on small
Ouessant and Houat. insects and spiders.

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Rural Architecture

The scenic appeal of the Breton countryside owes
much to its picturesque old houses, which seem
to be fixed in time. Their appearance varies markedly
according to topogra phy, available materials and
local tra ditions. In Upper Brittany, houses were built
in rows, standing gable to gable so as to form
rectangular groups (longères). Typical of Lower
Brittany is the pennti, a more compact house, with
contiguous outbuildings, such as byres and coach
houses surrounding the yard and pro viding shelter Windows, which are narrow
from the prevailing wind. Until the mid-19th century, and relatively few, are usually
these modest houses rarely had an upper floor. framed by dressed stones. They
Thatched and asymmetrical, they blend harmoniously were once closed from within
with the surrounding fields, heath and woodland. by wooden shutters.

Chimneys are built The coping stone,
into the gable wall. sometimes decoratively
carved, crowns the apex
of the gable.

Lintels above older windows are
bevelled and sometimes have an
ogee arch, a legacy of the Gothic
style. Such windows are typical
of manor houses.

Exterior Stairways
Several types of exterior staircase
can be seen on Breton country houses.
Many houses in the Léon and Vannes
areas have a stairway parallel to the
façade. The stairway, covered with an
awning, led up to the loft, where hay
and other provisions might be stored.
The space beneath the steps was
sometimes occupied by a pigsty.
In plainer houses, the stairway,
which often had no awning, was Steps set between buildings,
Steps parallel to the façade set in the angle of two buildings. with no awning

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Around the House
Certain integral features of the rural Breton
house are to be found not inside its walls but
outside. One is the bread oven, the style of
which has remained almost unchanged since
the Middle Ages. Because of the danger of
fire, the oven was often located away from
the house. The granite trough, a traditional Granite drinking-trough
piece of equipment in Lower Brittany, served or mortar
as a drinking trough for animals and was also
used as a mortar in which fodder was ground
before it was given to horses. Bread oven with
small recess

The ridge of the roof was
sometimes finished with
a row of slates – known as
kribenn in Breton. The slates
may be carved into shapes
such as cats or birds, or into
dates or initials.

Houses with Extensions
Many houses in Finistère have an extension –
known as apoteiz or kuz taol in Breton – that
protrudes 4 to 5 m (13 to 16 ft) from the façade.
This additional space was used to store the table,
benches and sometimes a box-bed, so as to
create more space around the hearth.

Blocks of hewn stone were
used as cornerstones in both
houses and enclosure walls.

The granite doorway,
with a lintel consisting of Dormer windows are a
three voussoirs (blocks of relatively late feature of rural
curved stone), is one of Breton houses. They did not
the most typical of Brittany. appear until the 1870s.

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Religious Architecture

Brittany boasts several abbeys, nine cathe drals, some 20 large
churches, about 100 parish closes and thousands of country
chapels. This rich heritage is proof not only of the strength
of religious faith but also of the skill of local builders. The
golden age of reli gious architecture in Brittany occurred in
the 16th and 17th centuries, when buildings were profusely
deco rated. Porches and rood screens sprouted motifs carved
in oak, limestone or kersanton, a fine-grained granite almost Calvary at Notre-Dame-de
impervious to the passage of time. Tronoën (see p160)

Pre-Romanesque and Romanesque (6th–8th C.)
The Romanesque style reached Brittany after it had become
established in Anjou and Normandy, reaching its peak in
about 1100 with the building of abbeys, priories and mod est
churches. A distinctive feature of these buildings is the
stylized carvings on the capitals of columns.
Crypt of the Église St-Mélar Capital with carved leaf motif.
in Lanmeur The cloister of
the Abbaye de
Daoulas, restored
in 1880, is one
of the finest
examples of
Capital with in Brittany.
plain abacus
Volute carved
in kersanton,
with various Paired columns

Early Gothic (13th–14th C.)
At a time when buildings in the Romanesque style were still being
constructed, the Gothic style and the art of the stained-glass
window took root in Brittany. Buildings in this new,
restrained style, shaped by Norman and English
influences, were based on a rectangular or
T-shaped plan, and had a tall steeple.
Statue of a bishop
North tower,
left unfinished. West front,
built in
the 12th Stained glass, Cathédrale St-Samson,
century Dol-de-Bretagne

Dol’s cathedral, a fine example of
Breton Gothic architecture, shares
fea tures in common with Coutances
Cathedral in Normandy and with
Foliate architrave Salisbury Cathedral in England.

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Flamboyant Gothic Trefoil window
(14th–15th C.)
As an expression of their
political power, the dukes and
noblemen of Brittany funded the
decoration of Gothic churches.
These buildings thus acquired
elegant chapels and finial belfries, Rood screen in the Basilique
carved doorways, wall paintings du Folgoët
and beautiful rose windows.
Quatrefoil tracery
framed by two trefoils.
The Porche du Peuple of the
Cathédrale St-Tugdual in Tréguier Tierce-point arch
features some fine examples of divided into two
14th-century decorative carving. trilobe arches.
Breton Renaissance (16th C.)
The Flamboyant Gothic style was Arches decorated
gradually superseded by a new, with secular motifs.
markedly purer style. Adopted by
architects, metalworkers and Bust of François I
sculptors, the Breton Renaissance set within a
style combined that of the Loire and scallop shell.
that of Italy. In Lower Brittany, the
fashion for parish closes and open
belfries became established. West door of
Figures of the
12 apostles. the Basilique
Pilaster with
Pediment, in the lozenge decoration. in Guingamp
Baroque style, over (1537–90).
the archway.
Stone wall,
designed to prevent Entrance used
farm animals from at christenings,
entering the weddings, funer -
sacred enclosure. als and other
great occasions.
Detail of the rood screen of the church at
La Roche Maurice
The ceremonial entrance to the
parish close of the Église St-Miliau
in Guimiliau, one of the most
important in northern Finistère.
Baroque (17th C.)
The Counter-Reformation Finials Statue of St Derrien
brought out a taste for flanked by the heads
of two angels.
extravagant church decora-
tion. This took the form Broken
of statues of apostles, pediment
dramatic depictions of the The great porch
Pietà, highly ornate pulpits, (1645–55) of the
Baroque altarpieces and church at Commana,
garlanded columns. There Fluted whose interior
are around 1,300 churches columns furnishings are in an
with such Baroque extravagant Baroque
style, still has many
decoration in Brittany.
Renaissance features.

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Breton Music

As it continues to grow in popularity, Breton music goes from
strength to strength. In the 1990s, L’Héritage des Celtes and
Again, two of Alan Stivell’s albums, sold in their thou sands,
the instrumentalist Dan Ar Braz has twice been awarded the
prestigious Victoire de la Musique, and the techno specialist Denez
Prigent has won critical acclaim. In Brittany, music is a central
aspect of popular culture. Almost 70 per cent of French traditional
musicians are Bretons, and in Brittany new music venues open at
a faster rate than anywhere else in France. Celtic heritage lives on.

Traditional Instruments Poster advertising a music
festival in Brest in 1932.
The bagpipes and the bombard are the only two Drum
specifically Breton musical instruments. Although
others are played by Breton musicians, the bagpipes
and bombard, sometimes accompanied by a drum
or tambourine, are the traditional combination.
The bombard, a wind
instrument similar to the
oboe, is made of ebony
or fruitwood.

The Breton bagpipe is
increasingly neglected
in favour of the larger
Scottish bagpipes.

Bagpipes are known as
biniou in Brittany. In the
Guérande region and in
the Breton fenlands of
the Vendée they are
known as veuze.

Irish transverse flute

The Celtic harp, sacred instru ment
of bards and druids, captivated
audiences throughout antiquity
and the Middle Ages.

The diatonic
accordion, known
as bouëze in Sonneurs are players of Breton and Scottish
Brittany, has bagpipes who traditionally perform together.
gradually In the early 20th century, some sonneurs
replaced the learned to play the clarinet – popularly
old concertina known as “tronc de choux” (cabbage stalk) –
that was once seen the accordion and later the saxophone.
mostly in rural areas. Sonneurs once made their living from music.

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Tri Yann, a band that celebrated
its 40th anniversary in 2011,
practises the Breton musical Gilles Servat gave
tradition of extemporiza tion. a fresh boost to
Alan Stivell has recorded over For the second time since the Breton music during
20 albums since his Reflets was band came into existence, a woman the 1970s.
released in 1970. has replaced one of its founders.

Scottish bagpipes

Dan Ar Braz, from Quimper, has twice
won the Victoire de la Musique. He has
represented France at the Eurovision Song
Contest and he now attracts a large audience.
Describing the music that he plays, he prefers
to call it the music of Brittany rather than
traditional Breton music.
Breton Orchestras
Bagadou, or Breton orchestras, feature
bombards, bagpipes and drums. It is these
orchestras that are responsible for keeping
alive Breton musical tradition. Among the
most famous bagadou are those of
Landerneau and Lann Bihoué.

The Contemporary Scene
The young generation understands that it is new kinds of music
that will help Breton traditions survive, by mixing the traditional
with the contemporary to create new styles. Erik Marchand, who
was born in Paris, learned Breton songs and then went on to join
forces with gypsy and Oriental musicians. Kristen Nikolas gave
Breton music a techno flavour. His band, Angel IK, freely mixed
wild guitar-playing with Breton songs. Yann-Fanch Kemener, who
began his career as a singer of Breton songs, now per forms with
jazz musicians. Nolwenn Leroy popularised Breton music with cover
versions of traditional Celtic songs. One of the most outstanding
talents is Denez Prigent. After specializing in gwer zou (ballads) and
kan ha diskan (songs with descant), he has been exploring techno. Denez Prigent

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Breton Literature

Perhaps because of its melancholy mists and secret
woodlands, or because of the peculiar light that
bathes its windswept coastline, Brittany is a strangely
inspirational land. How else to account for the unique
alchemy that encourages the imagination to take
wing and that instills an innate penchant for the
mystical, the mysterious and the marvellous? All
those Bretons who figure in the history of regional
as well as French lit erature, have this characteristic,
the inevitable conse quence of life lived on the edge
of the world.
which tells the story of the
Literature in Breton
life of a saint, were enacted.
Relatively little is known Performed in the open air, The Life of St Nonne, a popular Breton
about medieval Breton they were extremely popular, mystery play
literature. Besides a few especially in the Trégor. The
glimpses gained from the actors, who might be clog- Stories and Legends
charters compiled makers or weavers
in abbeys and a by trade, knew The literary genre in which
single page from by heart entire Bretons excelled was that of
an obscure treatise tracts of the most stories and legends. During
on medicine dramatic plays, long winter evenings and at
dating from the such as Ar pevar country gatherings, woodcut-
late 8th century, no mab Hemon ters, beggars and spinners
single Breton text (The Four Sons of would weave stories of make-
survives to this day. Aymon), which believe filled with fairytale
There is every was still being princesses and such
evidence, however, performed in legendary figures as giants
that Armorican about 1880. in glass castles. It was by
poets enjoyed a Contemporary listening to these imaginative
certain prestige in with this popular sto rytellers that Théodore
courtly circles and Barzhaz Breizh repertoire, a Hersart de la Villemarqué
that their lays – handful of long, (1815–95), whose Breton
ballads or poems set to music erudite poems with name was Kervarker, and
and accompanied on the sophisticated internal rhyming François-Marie Luzel, or
harp – played an important has survived, as well as a Fañch An Uhel (1821–95),
part in the development of considerable body of literature compiled collections of
the chivalrous epics of the (such as missals and books of Breton literature. The stories
Middle Ages. It was, indeed, hours) written by clergy- are, however, too good to
this Breton tradition that men in imperfect be true: it is now known
provided French minstrels Breton. For hundreds that neither man set
with tales of the valour of of years, the latter them down as he heard
Lancelot, the adventures was ordinary them but that they
of Merlin and other wonders people’s only polished and rounded
of the Forèt de Paimpont reading off the stories.
(see p68), the legendary matter. At the end of
Forêt de Brocéliande. the 19th century,
Lan Inizan (1826–
91) published
Emgann Kergidu,
Mystery Plays
an historic
The earliest surviving evi dence account of events
of a true literary tradi tion dates that occurred in
from the 15th century, in the the Léon district
manuscripts of mystery plays. during the
In these plays, religious scenes, Théodore Hersart de la Villemarqué, a great 19th-century Terror (see p52).
such as Buez Santez Nonn, recorder of Breton tales and legends Anatole Le Braz

030-031_EW_Brittany.indd 30 11/3/16 12:41 PM


The Breton Language
Brezoneg, an ancient Celtic language that is related to Welsh, is
spoken west of a line running from Plouha to Vannes. Although
this linguistic frontier has hardly changed since the 12th century,
over recent generations Brezoneg has
become much less widely spoken. In
1914, 90 per cent of the population of
that part of Brittany spoke Brezoneg.
After 1945, parents were encouraged
to have their children speak French
and, until 1951, Brezoneg was
surpressed in schools. It was thus no
longer passed down from parent to
child. Today, although it is increasingly
Per-Jakez Hélias, author of the novel Le rare to hear Brezoneg spoken (only
Cheval d’Orgueil
240,000 Bretons over 60 know it well),
it is attracting fresh interest. There are
(1859–1926), meanwhile, now bilingual schools (Diwan), an
explored Breton legends that official Breton institute, and a Breton
are concerned with death. television channel (TV Breizh), all of
which contribute to keeping Breton grammar books used in
Brezoneg alive. Diwan schools
Breton Classics
During the 1930s, three 19th-century French strong opposition to
accomplished novelists – authors were of Breton all that is dull and flat”.
Youenn Drezen, Yeun ar Gow stock. Two were natives In the 20th century,
and Jakez Riou – demonstrated of St-Malo. One of these too, Breton soil spawned
that Breton lit erature was not was the statesman, traveller many writers of renown:
limited to the description of and memoir-writer François they in clude the poets
life in the countryside in times René de Chateaubriand (see René-Guy Cadou,
gone by. While their novels p75), author of Génie du Eugène Guillevic
had only a small readership, Christianisme (1802) and and Xavier Grall, the
those of Tanguy Malmanche Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe essay ist Jean Guéhenno,
enjoyed wider renown. Two (1830–41). Describing of Fougères, and the
poets also emerged: his attachment to novelist Louis Guilloux, of
Yann-Ber Kalloc’h the region, he St-Brieuc, whose Le Sang
(1888–1917), a once said “It Noir (Black Blood, 1935)
native of Vannes, was in the and Ma Bretagne (My
with his moving woods near Brittany, 1973) were hailed
Ar en deulin Combourg by critics as works of
(Kneeling), and that I major importance.
Anjela Duval became
(1905–81), of what I am”.
the Trégor. The other was
The most the priest and
widely read Breton philosopher
writer is Per-Jakez Félicité de
Hélias, who came Ernest Renan, noted for his Lamennais,
to the notice of writing on science and religion whose social
the general ideals included
public in 1975 with Le Cheval harnessing political liberalism
d’Orgueil (Horse of Pride), which to Roman Catholicism.
was subsequently translated At his manor house at
into 20 lan guages. St-Pierre-de-Plesguen,
near Dinan, he entertained
a coterie of dis ciples. The
third, Ernest Renan, author
Literature in French
of Vie de Jésus (Life of Jesus),
Although not part of often returned to his
the Breton literary canon, native Trégor, where, Louis Guilloux, author of Le Sang Noir
three of the greatest he said, “you can feel a and Ma Bretagne

030-031_EW_Brittany.indd 31 11/3/16 12:41 PM


Traditional Breton Costume

There were once 66 different types of traditional
Breton costume and around 1,200 variations. Breton
clothing differed from one small area to the next.
In the 19th century, it was possible to tell at a glance
the precise geographical origins of any Breton.
Colours also indicated an individual’s age and status:
in Plougastel-Daoulas, young women wore a small
flowery shawl, married women a shawl with squares,
widows a white shawl, and, when they had lost a close
relative, a winged headdress. Unmarried men wore Femmes de Plougastel au Pardon de Sainte-Anne
by Charles Cottet (1903)
green waistcoats, and married men, blue jackets.
Bigouden Costume Lace gloves
In the area of Pont-l’Abbé, Embroidered
capital of the Bigouden region, Shirt sleeve
traditional costume is very
uniform. Women were still
wearing it as everyday dress in Chupenn,
the early 20th century. According a man’s coat
to their wealth, they either wore
richly decorated, layered bodices
or modest embroidered cuffs.


In Cornouaille and western Brittany,
the most popular pieces of jewellery
were “pardon pins”, brooches made
of silver, copper or blown glass.

Lace and Embroidery
Aprons worn on feast days, women’s bodices
and men’s waistcoats are richly embroidered with silk,
metallic thread, and steel or glass beads. Executed in
chain stitch, motifs include floral patterns featuring
palmettes and fleur-de-lys, and stylized elements
such as sun discs and concentric circles. They are
always very bright, like the orange and yellow plum
paon motifs that are typical of the Bigouden.
Lace-makers from Tréboul, in Finistère

Embroidery from Pont-l’Abbé Embroidery from Quimper Detail of a beaded costume

032-033_EW_Brittany.indd 32 11/3/16 1:02 PM


Traditional Breton head wear
is extraordinarily diverse.
This can be appreciated
today only thanks to René-
Yves Creston (1898–1964),
Newborn children, represented here by dolls, an ethnologist who record-
were once all customarily dressed in a bonnet, ed its range before it ceased Small lace coiffe
gown and apron. Not until the age of five or six to be worn on a daily basis.
did boys swap their infant clothes for adult male Some head dresses had back-
clothing. Girls would start to wear a head dress swept wings, others were tied at the chin with
from the time of their first communion. ribbons, and still others had “aircraft” or “lobster-
tail” wings. Many women pos sessed two koef, or,
in French, coiffes (headdresses), a small one made
Women’s of lace netting that covered the hair, and a tall
headdress one, which was worn over the smaller one,
though only on ceremonial occa sions. The
most spectacular headdresses are those of the
Bigouden, which are almost 33 cm (13 in) high
Apron and which older women wear on Sundays. Men’s
hats are decorated with long velvet ribbons and
sometimes with an oval buckle.



Belt buckles, like this heart-shaped example, were
part of a man’s costume. The waistcoat and trousers,
which replaced the traditional baggy trousers in the
mid-19th century, are tied at the waist by a belt.

Men’s waistcoats were eye-catchingly
sumptuous. In Plougastel, young men
wore a green waistcoat under a purple
jacket, and adult men a blue waistcoat,
the hue being darker or paler according
to their age. Men wore a purple waist-
coat on their wedding day and at the
christening of their first child.

Aprons, worn to keep a woman’s
skirt clean, were originally plain
The back of the bodice rather than decorated. These
was decorated with flowers voluminous working garments
whose size indicated the were made of ordinary fabric and
wear er’s status. A married were tied at the waist with a
woman’s bodice featured ribbon. Aprons were usually worn
gold thread, spangles with a bib – a rectangular piece of
and tinsel. fabric that covered the chest.

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In Brittany, every season has something to own fest-noz or pardon (see pp38–9). The
offer. In spring, towns and villages reawaken high point is the Festival Interceltique de
from their winter slumber: feast days in Lorient, the greatest Celtic festival in France.
honour of patron saints and popular festivals By the autumn, the num ber of tourists begins
mark this renewal. As the sun shines more to dwindle and festivals are fewer. Bretons
brightly, heath and woodland come to life. ward off the rigours of winter by meeting
Through the summer, the tourist season is in in bistros or holding such events as the
full swing, and every community holds its Trans Musicales de Rennes.

In Brittany, spring is a time of
joyfulness. From March, water-
ed by gentle showers, gorse
blooms cover the land scape
in a carpet of golden yellow.
In May, broom comes into
flower, with its lighter
yellow blooms. Fruit and
vegetables – including
Brittany’s famous artichokes –
are piled high in the markets.
The region is reborn, and
welcomes the return of
warm, sunny days.
Advertisement for Étonnants Voyageurs, a festival held in St-Malo
Salon du Livre (late Mar–mid- Festival Étonnants Voyageurs June
Apr), Bécherel, Ille-et-Vilaine. An (three days, late May/early Jun), Festival Art Rock
antiquarian book festival held in St-Malo. The focus of this (May–Jun), St-Brieuc,
a medieval town. Bookbinders, festival (Amazing Explorers), Côtes d’Armor. Concerts,
booksellers and second-hand held in the historic port exhibitions, shows and
dealers hold open house. of St-Malo, is travel writing contemporary dance.
and accounts of exploration.
May It features exhibitions, July
Festival En Arwen (early May), lectures and book signing Festival Tombées de la
Cléguérec, Morbihan. A festival sessions. Organized by a Nuit (early Jul), Rennes,
of traditional Breton music, group of enthusiasts, it has Ille-et-Vilaine. Filled with
drawing many performers become a major cultural musicians, comedians, mime
and enthusiasts. event, and is now taken artists and storytellers from all
to other countries. over the world, Rennes, the
capital of Brittany, becomes
a gigantic stage.
Summer Festival des Pierres qui Parlent
As one of the most popular (mid-Jul to Aug), at megalithic
tourist regions of France, sites at Locronan, Crozon,
Brittany receives a large number Concarneau, Loctudy, Arzon,
of visitors during the summer. Carnac and Ploemeur.
Coastal resorts are busy, and Held at sunset, a storyteller
bars and nightclubs are filled to weaves beguiling Celtic tales.
capacity. Besides swimming in Art dans les Chapelles (early
the sea or relaxing on the Jul to mid-Sep), Pontivy and
beach, going hiking or cycling, environs, Morbihan.
or taking a boat trip round the About 15 chapels in and
coast, there are many other around Pontivy, and dating
Fields of gorse, thickly carpeted in flowers activities for visitors to enjoy from the 15th and 16th
from March (see pp250–3). centuries, host exhibitions

034-035_EW_Brittany.indd 34 11/3/16 1:02 PM


Average Daily Hours of Sunshine
Sunshine Chart
Hours High pressure from the
12 Azores gives southern
Brittany more than 2,200
hours of sunshine per
8 year. The north, by
contrast, has only 1,700
6 hours per year. Coastal
4 areas, where rainfall is
lighter than in the
2 interior, sometimes
suffer from drought
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec during the summer.
of contemporary painting, Fête des Remparts (third
sculpture and photography. weekend in Jul, every two years),
Troménie (second Sun in Dinan, Côtes d’Armor. Historical
Jul), Locronan, southern reconstructions, theatrical farce,
Finistère. One of the largest dancing, games, concerts, jousts
and most elaborate pardons and a procession in costume.
in Brittany. Grand Pardon (26 Jul),
Festival Médiéval (14 Jul, every Ste‑Anne‑d’Auray, Morbihan.
two years), Josselin, Morbihan. Brittany’s greatest pilgrimage
A day of medieval entertain‑ has a million followers.
ment centred around the Festival de Jazz (last week of
old market square, with Jul), Vannes, Morbihan. Blues
troubadours and tumblers. and jazz played by professional
Festival des Vieilles and amateur musicians are the
Charrues (mid-Jul), Carhaix‑ festival’s main attractions.
Plouguer, southern Finistère.
Rock festival featuring both August
international stars and local Fête des Fleurs d’Ajoncs
bands. James Brown, Massive (first Sun in Aug), Pont‑ Fête internationale de la Mer et des
Attack and numerous others Aven, southern Finistère. Marins in Brest
have performed in front of A picturesque procession in
large audiences here. honour of flowering gorse, Route du Rock (mid-Aug),
Fête Internationale de la dating back to 1905. St‑Malo, Ille‑et‑Vilaine. Held
Mer et des Marins (mid-Jul, Festival Interceltique (first in the Fort de St‑Père, a rock
every four years), Brest, northern two weeks in Aug), Lorient, festival at the cutting edge
Finistère. The largest tall ships Morbihan. Musicians and of the genre.
regatta in the world, first held other performers from Festival des Hortensias (late
in 1992. Scotland, Ireland, the Isle Jul to early Aug), Perros‑Guirec,
Fête de la Crèpe (third weekend of Man, Wales and Cornwall, Côtes d’Armor. Accompanied
in Jul), Tronjoly‑Gourin, southern Galicia and Asturia (in Spain), by traditional music, festivities
Finistère. Pancake‑tastings and and, of course, Brittany gather in honour of the hydrangea,
lessons in how to made pancakes, for the largest Celtic festival whose deep blue flowers are
held in the municipal park. in the world. prized and which thrives in
Brittany’s acid soil.
Fête des Filets Bleus (mid-Aug),
Concarneau, southern Finistère.
Traditional Breton bands parade
through the streets of the
town, and a festival queen is
chosen. The programme also
includes concerts, shows and
fishing competitions.
Fête de l’Andouille (fourth
Sun in Aug), Guéméné‑sur‑
Scorff, Morbihan. The Confrérie
des Goustiers de l’Andouille
(sausage‑makers’ guild)
celebrate this prized
Rock group at the Festival des Vieilles Charrues at Carhaix-Plouguer Breton delicacy.

034-035_EW_Brittany.indd 35 11/3/16 1:02 PM


Average Rainfall Rainfall
The most elevated
Mm Inches regions of Brittany
120 4.5 receive up to
100 3.75 1,200 mm (47 in)
of rain, which falls over
80 3 an average of 200 days
per year, while the
60 2.25
plateaux of Lower
40 1.5 Brittany receive 800
mm (31 in) of rainfall
20 0.75 per year. The heaviest
0 0 rainfall occurs in
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec autumn and winter.
performers of tra ditional Fête du Marron (end of Oct),
Autumn Breton music gather at the Redon, Ille­et­Vilaine. The
Those of a romantic disposi­ Domaine de Tronjoly to take town hosts a chestnut
tion who love open spaces will part in marching, music and festival with a traditional
find this season particu larly dancing competi tions; these fair, chestnut tastings and,
appealing. There are still many are held in two categories: kozh most promi nently, the
fine days. The equinox on (with Breton pipes and bomb­ largest fest-noz in Brittany.
21/22 September marks the ards) and bras (with Scottish The Bogue d’Or, a musical
beginning of the great autumn bagpipes and bombards). contest in which the best
tides, when large expanses A fest-noz also takes place. traditional Breton musicians
of the seabed are exposed. compete, takes place in the
Rapidly changing weather October morning. In the evening,
and the dramatic ebb and Festival du Film the winners give a
flow of the sea also make for a Britannique (early Oct), performance, along with
landscape whose appearance Dinard, Ille­et­Vilaine. The other traditional Breton
alters by the hour. Inland, the British film industry’s producers music groups.
leaves on the trees start to and distributors come here Quai des Bulles (mid-Oct),
turn, catching the sunlight to promote British cinema St­Malo, Ille­et­Vilaine.
between scudding clouds. in France. The event attracts An annual gathering
As tourists become fewer, around 15,000 people. attended by around 400
Bretons return to their daily Festival de Lanvallec (second strip­cartoonists and
lives, anticipating winter. half of Oct), in the Trégor, animated cartoon producers,
Côtes d’Armor. The leading together with a following
September exponents of Baroque music of enthu siasts. Showings of
Championnat de Bretagne de perform in various churches cartoon films and exhibitions
Musique et Danse Traditionelle in the region, particularly in also form part of the event.
(first weekend in Sep), Gourin, Lanvallec, which has one of In the year 2000, when the
southern Finistère. The finest the oldest organs in Brittany. festival marked its 20th year,
the world’s leading cartoon
ists and animators attended.
Festival des Chanteurs
de Rue et Foire St-Martin
(early Nov), Quintin,
Côtes d’Armor. Since 1993,
the St Martin’s Fair, which
dates back to the 15th
century, has been held at
the same time as this festival
of street singers. Hawkers,
entertainers and comedians
re­enact historical scenes of
daily life and singers perform
time­honoured songs, with the
audience joining in the chorus.
Traditional Breton food is also
on offer, such as crêpes and
A signing session during the Quai des Bulles in St-Malo moules marinière.

036-037_EW_Brittany.indd 36 11/3/16 1:02 PM


Average Monthly Temperature
°C °F Temperature
25 77 The chart shows the
average minimum and
20 68
maximum temperatures
for each month. Average
15 59
win ter temperatures
10 50 are between 6 and 8° C
(43 and 46° F). Average
5 41 summer temperatures
are between 16 and
0 32
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 18° C (61 to 64° F).
Winter brings periods of
inclement weather, which
become progressively more
severe as the season advances.
However, warm, moist air
from the tropics can cause
temperatures to rise to as
much as 12° C (54° F), even
in mid-January. Warm rainfall
allows camellias to thrive,
flowering in sheltered areas.
In winter, the prevailing wind
is from the northwest. Cold and A still winter seascape in Brittany
strong, it batters the region in
squally gusts. As an anti dote many British and American venues in the city. There
to such tempestuous weather, bands, as well as that of other are master classes, cine-
Bretons hold rum bustuous musicians, such as the Icelandic concerts, short and
weekend festivals. singer Björk, who has performed feature films.
in France since the start of Flambée Musicales (early
December her career. Feb) Fougères. An international
Les Trans Musicales (early Dec), dance and music festival
Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine. February that takes place over several
The buzzing rock scene has Travelling (end of Feb), days. The theme changes
spawned such artistes as Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine. This is a every year, and ranges from
Étienne Daho, Niagara, Marquis festival that focuses on Baroque to Andalusian
de Sade and a long list of bands international filmmaking. Each gypsy music.
that are well-known in France. year a different country is
Since 1979, this key festival has represented and around 200 Public Holidays
launched the careers of films are screened at different
New Year’s Day
(1 Jan)
Easter Sunday
and Easter Monday
Ascension (sixth Thu
after Easter)
Pentecost (second Mon
after Ascension)
Labour Day (1 May)
Victory Day (8 May)
Bastille Day (14 Jul)
Assumption (15 Aug)
All Saints’ Day (1 Nov)
Armistice Day (11 Nov)
Christmas Day (25 Dec)
A stall at the Christmas market in Brest

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Pardons and Festou-noz

The term pardon dates from the Middle Ages, when popes
granted indulgences (remissions of punishment for sin) to
worshippers who came to church. The annual pardon later
became a day of worship honouring a local patron saint, with
a procession and pilgrimage. In rural areas, a large number of
saints were venerated, and here, minor pardons have evolved
into occasions when communities join together to celebrate.
After mass, the confession of penitents and procession of Celtic cultural clubs, which give
banners, the secular fest-noz, with singing and dancing, begins. displays at pardons, still perform
dances that are specific to
particular areas of Brittany.
Gwenn ha du,
the Breton flag

The bagad is a group of musicians playing
bombards, bagpipes and drums, while
touring the streets. They provide dance
music for the fest-noz.

Sonneurs, bagpipe and
bombard players, have
always been an integral
part of Breton festivities.
Seated on a table or a
large barrel, they took
it in turns to play
popular tunes both
to accompany dancing
and as entertainment
during the outdoor
banquet that tradi tionally
followed a pardon.

Gouel an Eost
In several parishes, pardons are
also occasions when older people
can relive the sights and sounds
of a traditional harvest. Activities
include threshing by traditional
methods: threshers, truss-carriers
and sheaf-binders set up the chaff-
cutter and the winnowing machine,
which separates the grain from the Traditional dancing is not the exclusive
chaff, and har ness horses to the preserve of Celtic cultural clubs. Far
circular enclosure where the grain from sitting on the sidelines, local people
is milled. A hearty buffet rounds off and holiday-makers both eagerly join in,
Harvest festival this gouel an eost. accompanied by the sonneurs and singers
of kan ha diskan (songs with descant).

038-039_EW_Brittany.indd 38 11/3/16 1:02 PM


Banners, made of
embroidered silk, are
carried in pro cession
during par dons. Each
parish has its own
banner, behind which
the parishioners walk.
This one belongs to
the Chapelle Notre-
Dame de Lambader,
in Haut-Léon. The Troménie at Locronan is not only a major
pilgrimage but also a test of physical endurance
for those who carry the banners. Dressed in
tradi tional costume, for five hours they
Banner with the continuously circle a hill in the heat of July,
image of the patron holding aloft ban ners, statues and relics.
saint of a parish.
Tro Breiz
Held in honour of the seven saints –
Samson, Malo, Brieuc, Paul Aurélien,
Patern, Corentin and Tugdual – who
established Christianity in Brittany,
the Tro Breiz is not a modest parish
pardon but a lengthy pilgrimage
covering about 650 km (400 miles)
and linking the towns of the seven
saints. Pilgrims from all over the
world have attended this event.

Modern banner, carried in honour of
the well-known preacher Mikael an
Nobletz (see p133).

Blessing the Sea takes place during
pardons in villages around the coast of
The pardon of Ste-Anne-d’Auray has become a the Golfe du Morbihan. The clergy boards
spectacular event over the centuries, with a long proces sion a boat and blesses all the vessels in the
of priests and pilgrims. After mass, they fervently sing Hail harbour following a custom that dates
Marys and Breton hymns. from the 19th century.

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040-047_EW_Brittany.indd 40 11/3/16 1:02 PM




Brittany’s long history, no less than its geography, has made it one of the most
distinctive regions of France. It has a strong cultural identity, and, at the westernmost
point of France, it has benefited from its location at the centre of Europe’s Atlantic
seaboard – between land and sea, and between Britain and France.

The borders of Brittany have altered often Britain. This was also a time of stable social
since ancient times. During the prehisto ric organization, when impressive megalithic
period, the coastline was very different monuments were built. Skeletons and
from what it is today. Many sites of human pottery were placed in megalithic tombs
occupation, some of which date back (dolmens), some in the form of burial
500,000 years, have been discovered in chambers approached by a long corridor,
places that are now beneath the sea. consisting of huge blocks of stone covered
During the glaciations of the early by an earth mound. The oldest and most
Quaternary period, the sea level was impressive of these megalithic monuments,
about 30 m (100 ft) lower than it is today. the cairn at Barnenez (see p125), dates
When the glaciers melted, about 10,000 from 4600 BC. No less spectac ular are
years ago, the sea level rose dramatically. the menhirs, that were standing stones
Large areas of land were flooded, creating probably connected to a religion involving
the present coastline, which is indented by astronomy. The most important menhirs
long narrow inlets – or rias – ancient river are those at Carnac (see pp184–5). Some,
valleys flooded by the sea. It may be some like the Giant of Locmariaquer (see p186),
remote memory of this cataclysmic event are as much as 20 m (65 ft) high.
that gave rise to legends about submerged
cities, like the town of Ys. The Celts
In about 500 BC, the peninsula, which was
Megalith-Builders then known as Armorica, or “country near
Traces of human occupation become more the sea”, was invaded by Celts. Five tribes
numerous at the beginning of the Neolithic settled there: the Osismes (in present-day
period, around 5000 BC, when local Finistère), the Veneti (in the Morbihan), the
populations adopted agri culture and a Coriosolites (in the Côtes d’Armor), the
settled way of life. They made axes of Riedones (in the Ille-et-Vilaine), and the
polished granite, which were traded in the Namnetes (in the Loire-Atlantique). The
Rhône valley, in southeastern France, and in Celts, who lived in villages and fortified

Polished jadeite axe
10000 BC Sea levels begin 4000 BC–2000 BC
to rise, flooding sites of Polished stone axes are made,
human habitation at Plussulien and other sites
10000 BC 5000 BC 4000 BC 3000 BC 2000 BC 1000 BC
5000 BC Start of the Neolithic 4600 BC The great burial mound
period. The great megalithic at Barnenez is built
tombs (dolmens) are built and
menhirs erected

The mythical origins of the kingdom of Armorica, from Le Baud’s Chroniques de Bretagne (1480–82)

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settlements, were Martis (Corseul), Conde vincum
agriculturalists who also (Nantes) and Darioritum (Vannes).
worked iron, minted coins While baths, amphithea tres
and engaged in overseas and villas marked the influence
trade. They were ruled by a warrior of Roman civilization, Celtic
aristocracy and a priesthood, the Bronze figure of an ox, from and Roman gods were
druids, at the head of a religion a Roman villa at Carnac amalga mated. Rural
whose deities represented the areas, how ever, were
forces of nature. Bards (poet-musicians) less affected by the Roman presence.
sang of the exploits of mythical heroes. From AD 250–300, as the Roman Empire
Armorica gradu ally entered the annals began to decline, instability set in. Raids
of recorded history. Explorers from by Frankish and Saxon pirates led to the
the Mediterranean, among them the desertion of towns. The coastline was
Carthaginian Himilco (c. 500 BC) and ineffectually defended by forts, such as Alet
the Greek merchant-explorer Pytheas (near St-Malo) and Le Yaudet (in Ploulec’h).
(c. 320 BC), arrived on its shores. As the 5th century dawned, Armorica was
abandoned to its fate.
Roman Armorica
In 57 BC, the Romans occu pied Armorica, Arrival of the Britons
as well as the rest of Gaul. However, in During the 6th century, large numbers of
56 BC, the Veneti rebelled and held the Britons from Wales and Cornwall crossed
Romans at bay by taking refuge on the English Channel to settle in Armorica,
the rocky promontories of the Atlantic coast. which they named “Little Britain”, or “Brittany”.
With diffi culty, Julius Caesar This peaceful invasion continued for 200
routed them in a sea battle years. Among the newcomers were many
outside the Golfe du Morbihan. Christian monks, who introduced a Celtic
For 400 years, Armorica, variant of Christianity, distinct from Roman
incorporated into the province Christianity. Many iso lated hermitages
of Lugdunensis, was under were built on small offshore islands. The
Roman domi nation. The monasteries were headed by an abbot who
province was divided into five also acted as itinerant bishop. Among them
areas (pagi), corresponding were Brieuc, Malo, Tugdual (in Tréguier) and
to Celtic tribal territory. Samson (in Dol); with Gildas, Guénolé, Méen
A network of roads was built and Jacut, whose lives and miracles became
and a few small towns estab- the subject of hagiographies from the 8th
lished, which aided the process century onwards. They inspired the religious
of Romanization. Among traditions that survive today, marked by
them were Condate pilgrimages and pardons, such as the
Roman Venus from
Crucuny, Carnac (now Rennes), Fanum Troménie in Locronan (see p159). It was these

c. 500 BC The Celts reach Brittany
1st and 2nd 3rd century
57 BC The Romans centuries Armorica Saxon raids become
conquer Armorica is Romanized more frequent
500 BC 0 100 200 300 400
56 BC Julius Caesar
defeats the Veneti in 4th century The Romans
a naval battle withdraw from Armorica
Coins minted by
the Veneti

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Several times, Brittany was invaded by the
Mero vingians. Their influence was short-
lived, however, and the Bretons kept their
independence – ruled by warlike local
chiefs or petty kings.
The powerful Carolingian dynasty could
do no more than establish a buffer zone,
the Marches, which extended from the
Baie du Mont-St-Michel to the Loire estuary.
From about 770, this was controlled by
Roland, “nephew” of Charlemagne. In the
9th century, the Bretons established an
St Corentin laying the foundation stone of Quimper Cathedral in independent kingdom, whose frontiers
front of Cornouaille’s King Gradlon stretched to Angers in the east, Laval in
immigrants from Britain who introduced the the south and Cherbourg in the northwest.
typically Breton place names consisting of The kingdom was founded by Nominoë,
the prefix plou, or its derivatives plo, plu, plé, who overcame Charles the Bald at the
followed by a proper name or other word (as Battle of Ballon in 845. His son, Erispoë,
in Plougastel and Ploufragan). Plou, from the succeeded him but was murdered in 857
Latin plebs (the com mon people), refers to a by his cousin Salomon, whose reign, until
community of Christians. Lan (as in Lannion 874, marked the peak of the short-lived
and Lannilis) refers to a monastery. Tré (as in Breton monarchy.
Trégastel), from the ancient British word treb, Brittany’s political independence was
refers to a place of habita tion. strengthened by the clergy, who resisted
The concentration of these place names the jurisdiction of the see of Tours. This was
in western Brittany, and the frequency of the great age of the Benedictine abbeys,
those ending in ac in the eastern part of the rich centres of culture. Fine illuminated
region, from the Latin acum (as in Trignac manuscripts were produced (see p153), and
and Sévignac), indicates a cultural duality. the his toric Cartulaire de Redon compiled.
This is backed up by the coexistence of two
languages: French, which is derived from
Latin, east of a line run ning from La Baule
to Plouha, and Breton to the west.
The Breton Kingdom
From the 6th to the 10th century, the
peninsula, now known as Britannia, fought
off the attempts of Frankish kings who now The Cartulaire de Redon, a charter in which statutes were recorded
controlled Gaul to dominate the region. from the 9th century

c. 480 The first wave 630 Judicaël, the 832 The monastery 843 The
of Britons reaches Breton leader, meets of Redon is founded Normans
Brittany King Dagobert sack Nantes
400 500 600 700 800 900
753 Pepin
Altarpiece from
4th century The Romans St-Méliau the Short 845 King
withdraw from Armorica 7th & 8th centuries launches an Nominoë 857–874 Reign
Armorica becomes expedition is victorious of Salomon,
Britannia to Britannia at Ballon king of Britannia

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William the Conqueror takes Dinan, a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry
The Norman Invasions absorbed into the Anglo-Angevin
From the end of the 8th century, the raids led king dom of the Plantagenets. Victorious
by the Normans, from Scandinavia, became at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William
more frequent. Sailing up Brittany’s coastal the Conqueror had unified Normandy and
inlets and estuaries, they ransacked towns England. His successor, Henry Plantagenet,
and monasteries, bringing terror to the land. was also Count of Anjou. In 1156, he took
Nantes was sacked in 843. Entire monastic Conan IV, Count of Brittany, under his
communuties fled east, tak ing with them protection; Conan’s daughter Cons tance
the relics of saints. After the murder of was to marry Geoffrey, son of the king
Salomon in 874, Brittany descended into of England and brother of Richard the
chaos. From around 930–40, a semblance Lionheart and John Lackland. In 1203, the
of order returned when King Alain latter murdered Geoffrey’s son, Arthur, and
Barbetorte regained Nantes in 937 and Brittany fell under the rule of the king of
defeated the Normans at Trans in 939. England. Philippe Auguste, king of France,
Settling in neighbouring Normandy, the then forced Alix, Arthur’s half-sister, to marry
invaders gradually ceased their raiding a French prince, Pierre de Dreux, (Pierre
activities, although they remained a Mauclerc). As a royal fiefdom,
dangerous presence. Brittany then came under the
direct control of the French
Feudal Brittany Crown. The Count of Brittany paid
From the mid-10th century to the obeisance to the king of France,
mid-14th, Brittany slowly evolved into pledging his loyalty and aid.
a feudal state, maintaining a fragile Despite these vicissitudes, a
independence from the kings of Breton state was forming. In
France and of England, both of 1297, Philip the Fair, king of
whom had designs on Brittany. France, made the fief dom a
In the 12th century, Brittany, now vassal-duchy, and a ducal
a county, narrowly avoided being Henry II Plantagenet gov ernment was set up.

William the Conqueror
c. 900 The Norman c. 1000 The 1066 Led by William the Conqueror,
invasion. Monks feudal system many Bretons take part in the
flee Brittany is established Norman Conquest of England
900 950 1000 1050 1100
937 Alain Barbetorte 11th century Many
reconquers Brittany, castles are built
expelling the Normans and small towns
estab lished
Château de Vitré

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Although tied to the king of France
through his vassal status, by the
13th century the count (then the duke)
of Brittany was in a sufficiently strong
position to move towards independence.
As Count of Richmond, in Yorkshire, he
was also a vassal of the Plantagenet king, The seven saints who founded the Breton sees
and was thus able to steer a political
course between the two monarchs. Feudal Brittany was intensely reli gious.
In Brittany, however, his authority In areas of population growth, the number
was limited by the power of his vas sals, of parishes increased as new hamlets
who controlled extensive fief doms sprung up, their names prefixed with loc
from the safety of impregnable castles. (as in Locmaria) or ker (as in Kermaria).
These included the barons of Vitré and Ancient pagan beliefs melded with the
Fougères, on the border with Normandy; cult of old Breton saints, whose relics were
the Viscount of Porhoët, who ruled over the focus of pardons and pilgrimages.
140 parishes and 400,000 ha (990,000 acres) The best-known is the Tro Breiz, a tour of
of land from the Château de Josselin; and Brittany, about 650 km (400 miles) long,
the Viscount of Léon, who, with the Count taking in shrines in St-Malo, Dol, Vannes,
of Penthièvre, controlled part of the Quimper, St-Pol, Tréguier and St-Brieuc.
northern coast around Lamballe.
War of the Breton Succession
Life in Town and Country During From 1341 to 1364, Brittany was rav aged by
the Middle Ages the warring of two families who claimed
Breton country-dwellers seem to have
led more peaceful lives than those of their St Yves
counterparts in France. In the west of Born at the Manoir de
the peninsula, there existed an unusual Kermartin, near Tréguier,
type of land tenure that per sisted until the in 1248, St Yves was a
magis trate at the bishop’s
French Revolution. Every piece of farmland tribunal in Rennes, then
was owned by two people, one owning in Tréguier. He was also
the land and the other the buildings and the parish priest at
Trédrez and then at
crops. Neither could be forced out without St Yves, between a rich Louannec, in the Trégor.
being paid for the value of what he owned. and a poor man He preached, led an
ascetic life, and ensured
The towns, all of them small, enjoyed no justice for the poor, all of which brought him favour-
administrative autonomy. Almost all were able renown. He died in 1303 and was canon ized in
fortified, and many stood at the head of 1347. He is the patron saint of Bretons and barristers.
His skull is parad ed in a procession at Tréguier that
an inlet. Town-dwellers lived from the takes place on the third Sunday of May (see pp106–7).
linen trade.

1203 Arthur,
1166 With Henry Count of c. 1250 Dominican 1297 Brittany
Plantagenet, Brittany, is and Franciscan becomes a
Brittany is under murdered by monasteries are vassal-duchy
English rule John Lackland founded
1100 1150 1200 1250 1300
12th century 1203 With Pierre de 1270 Jean I
Cistercian 1185 Geoffrey Dreux, Brittany sets off on a 1303 Death
abbeys are Plantagenet gives comes under the Crusade with of St Yves
founded Brittany its own control of France St Louis
St Louis

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and who was crowned in Rennes
Cathedral, took up residence in Nantes.
Surrounded by courtiers, he inaugu rated
a new age, patronizing artists and
encouraging an interpretation of his tory
that exalted Breton culture.
Government (the council, chancel lery,
court of exchequer, parliament and law
court) was shared between Nantes, Vannes
and Rennes. Every year, the States of
Brittany held a meet ing at which they
voted on taxes. Complex and burdensome,
The Battle of Thirty, 1351, in which 30 Bretons, these taxes were not sufficient to finance
led by Beaumanoir, fought 30 Englishmen
the duke’s ever more extravagant tastes,
the dukedom. This con flict became part of nor to cover the upkeep of fortresses and
the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453) fought the maintenance of an army. But, raising the
between the kings of France and England. necessary funds himself, the duke managed
While the former supported Charles of to keep his distance from the king of France.
Blois and his wife, Joan of Penthièvre, the During the reign of Jean V (1399–1442),
latter aided Jean of Montfort and his wife, Brittany remained relatively neutral in the
Joan of Flanders. This war, in which both Hundred Years’ War. This allowed Bretons to
women were closely in volved, gave rise enjoy a certain prosperity: maritime trade
to such isolated inci dents as the Battle of developed, with Breton seamen acting as
Thirty (1351).
The war ended in victory for the
Montforts and their English allies: Charles
of Blois was killed at the Battle of Auray
(1364) and Bertrand du Guesclin was taken
prisoner. Jean IV of Montfort’s victory was
ratified by the Treaty of Guérande and, for
over a century, his dynasty held power in
an almost independent Brittany, which
could rely on English support to foil the
ambitions of the king of France.

Apogee of the Breton State
The Breton state reached the peak of its
power in the 15th century. The Duke of The Battle of Auray (1364), at which the Montforts and their
Brittany, who enjoyed the status of ruler English allies overcame the French

1341 Start of 1364 Death of 1378 Charles V 15th century The duchy of
the War of the Charles of Blois attempts to secure Brittany reaches its peak.
Breton Succession at the Battle the dukedom of Flowering of the Breton
of Auray Brittany Gothic style
1340 1360 1380 1400 1420 1440
1380 Death of famous
1351 Battle 1365 Treaty mercenary Bertrand du 1440 Execution of
of Thirty of Guérande: Guesclin 1399–1442 Reign of Jean V. child-murderer
the Montforts Shifting allegiance between Gilles de Rais
are victorious Equestrian statue of Breton France and England
mercenary Olivier de Clisson

040-047_EW_Brittany.indd 46 11/3/16 1:02 PM


middlemen between Bordeaux and
England, and exporting salt from Guérande Bertrand du
and linen cloth from Vitré, Locronan and
Léon. The population of Brittany, less A minor noble man born
in about 1320 near
seriously affected by the great plagues than Broons, Bertrand du
that of France, reached 800,000. Refugees Guesclin showed his
prowess as a warrior
from Normandy settled in the east, while during the War of the
many impoverished petty noblemen left Du Guesclin kneeling before Breton Succession. He
was also victorious at
to seek their fortune in France. During the Charles V some famous jousts and
duels, such as the one he
Hundred Years’ War, Breton mercenaries fought in Dinan with Sir Thomas Canterbury. In the
fighting on both sides won renown for their service of Charles V, he retook part of France from
prowess. Three of them – Bertrand du the English, and defeated the king of Navarre at
Cocherel in 1364. He led compagnies (bands of
Guesclin, Olivier de Clisson and Arthur de mercenaries) to Spain. He was taken prisoner by
Richemont – became constables (chief the Black Prince at Najera in 1367, but returned to
the battlefield. He was made a constable of France,
military officers) of France. and died during a siege in 1380.
Noblemen enlarged their castles, turning
them into impressive resi dences. There
was a lack of morality, however, and this Flamboyant Gothic with the aus terity of
reached its nadir in the depraved treatment granite, the local building material. The
of children and their cruel murder, in a first texts in Breton appeared and, with
satantic ritual, committed by Gilles de Rais, the advent of printing in 1484, printed
com panion-at-arms of Joan of Arc, at the books were produced; one of the first was
Château de Tiffauges, near Nantes. Catholicon, a Breton-French-Latin lexicon.
In the 15th century, a typically Breton A uni versity was founded in Nantes in 1460.
variant of the Gothic architectural style
developed, combining the delicacy of the The End of Independence
François II (1458–88), the incapable and
debauched Duke of Brittany, was powerless
to prevent the increasing use of royal
power in France, where Louis XI abolished
the last great vas sals in 1477. The king then
turned his attention to Brittany, the only
major fiefdom that still remained to be sub-
jugated. Forced into a war, François II was
defeated in 1488. By the Treaty of Le Verger,
the duke was forced to sub mit to the king if
his successor was to rule Brittany. He died
soon after. His daughter and successor,
The execution of Gilles de Rais in 1440 Anne of Brittany, was not yet 12 years old.

1460 1488 Battle of 1514 Death of
Foundation of St-Aubin-du- Anne of Brittany
the University Cormier. Treaty
Dance of Death (late of Nantes of Le Verger
15th century)
1440 1460 1480 1500 1520
1499 Anne
1440 Execution of 1491 Anne of of Brittany
child-murderer Brittany marries marries
Gilles de Rais Charles VIII of Louis XII Anne
France of France of Brittany

040-047_EW_Brittany.indd 47 11/3/16 1:02 PM

48  introducing brit t an y

Anne of Brittany

a central figure in the history of brittany, anne stood
both for the duchy’s independence and, through her
marriage first to charles Viii and then to Louis Xii – both
of them kings of France – for its integration with France.
the vissicitudes of her short and eventful life also made
her popular. She became a duchess at the age of 11, a
queen at 13, a mother at 16, and a widow at 21. She died Anne of Brittany’s coat of arms
at the age of 37, having lost seven of her nine children. feature a Franciscan nun, an ermine
Even today, some bretons revere her almost as a saint. and the motto “To my Life.”
a patron of the arts, she aided the development of
breton culture by supporting artists and historians.
Jean de Rely, bishop of Angers.
The Marriage of Charles VIII and
Anne of Brittany
On the death of François II, Duke of Brittany,
Charles VIII, the young king of France,
resumed war with his successor Anne and
forced her to marry him. The ceremony took
place in Langeais on 6 December 1491. This
early 19th-century painting shows the
couple making their marriage vows.

Pierre de Baud,
canon of Vitré, wrote
a History of Brittany in
1505, at Anne’s behest.
The first account of its
kind, it gave Breton
identity a historical
Anne of Brittany at the age of 13.

Anne of Brittany’s Residences
The castle in Nantes (see pp214–15) was Anne’s main
residence. She was born there, in the part known as the “old
building”, and she undertook the work that gives the castle
its present appearance. As a young girl, she regularly stayed
in Vannes, in the Château de l’Hermine and the Manoir de
Plaisance, which now no longer exists, and in the Château
de Suscinio, in the Morbihan, and the Château de Clisson,
in the Loire-Atlantique. In Rennes, she lived in what is
known as the Logis des Ducs, in the old town. During her
tour of Brittany in 1505, she stayed in private houses, many
of which are difficult to identify today. In Hennebont,
Quimper, Locronan, Morlaix, Guingamp, St-Brieuc and
Dinan, houses reverently known as “the Duchess Anne’s
houses” keep alive the memory of her visit. She also stayed Château des Ducs de Bretagne, Nantes,
for a few days in the castles at Hunaudaye, Vitré and Blain. Anne of Brittany’s main residence

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