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Geography and Landscape
Brittany is a peninsula in the northwest of France and borders the English Channel to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south.
Brittany Satellite photoPhoto: Public domain
The administrative region of the same name consists of the departments of Côtes-d'Armor, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine and Morbihan. Until 1941, Loire-Atlantique (at that time Loire-Inférieur) also belonged to Brittany. Many continue to regard this department as part of Brittany, even though it is now officially part of the Pays de la Loire.
Rennes is the capital of the Brittany region. Other important cities are Brest, Vannes, Quimper and Saint-Malo.
Brittany Prehistoric LandscapePhoto: Steffen Heilfort CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Off the coast of Brittany, which has a total length of about 3000 km, there are more than 300 islands. The peninsula is 250 km long and up to 150 km wide in the south, has an area of 34,200 km2 (approx. 6% of the French territory) and is therefore about the same size as Belgium. The largest Breton island is Belle-Île-en-Mer, 17 km long, 5-9 km wide and an area of 84 km2.
On the north side, the difference between the tides can be up to 14 meters, on the Atlantic side a maximum of 6 meters.
Below is a brief description of the landscape of the four departments:
Côtes d'Armor BrittanyPhoto: Patrick GIRAUD CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
The capital of this northwestern department is Saint-Brieux. The coast here is characteristic of Brittany, jagged granite rocks, spectacular capes and deep inlets (rias). The interior is hilly with many narrow and hollow roads, surrounded by hedges.
A striking feature is the extensive funnel-shaped river mouth (estuary) of the Rance; at high tide the sea penetrates far inland, at low tide a blue-gray mud flat is released.
The coastal part between the capital Saint-Brieuc and Morlaix is called Côte de Granit-Rose; in the evening light, the rusty-brown rocks seem to change color to a pinkish hue, but also brown-gray, red, purple, and blue from the sunlight on quartz and feldspar.
Finistere BrittanyPhoto: S.Möller in the public domain
The capital of this department is Quimper. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, Finistère has one of the most beautiful landscapes in France. This is mainly due to the rugged coastal and rock formations; the coast here is full of fjord-like inlets or "abers". The aber Wrac'h is the largest, penetrating 20 miles into the country. The Parc Naturel Régional d'Armorique is 90,000 hectares and offers forest, coast, heathland and even 'mountains' up to approx. 390 meters.
Inland (Argoat), the Monts d'Arrée and Montagnes Noires form the "backbone" of Brittany. The bare hills with a maximum height of less than 400 meters are currently being reforested.
The Cornouaille area includes two peninsulas: Cap Sizun and the Penmarc'h peninsula.
Pointe Saint-Mathieu is not only the extreme tip of Brittany, but also the extreme western tip of the European mainland.
The Keremna dune line ("Dunes de Keremna") is the largest in Brittany, 8 km long, 500 m by 1000 m wide, spread over 200 ha.
The seven islands and ten rocks that make up the Ouessant archipelago lie approximately 20 km off the mainland. In 1989, this archipelago with its breathtaking scenery was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
The capital of this department, and also the capital of Brittany, is Rennes. The gently sloping landscape and especially the beautiful bays in the north of this department make it a popular holiday area. The bay of Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the highlights, as is Saint-Malo, which was destroyed in WWII and completely rebuilt. Furthermore, numerous castles and churches with many art treasures.
Brittany Île aux MoinesPhoto: Flore Allemandou CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Morbihan in Breton means "little sea" (mor bihan). Much of this department is occupied by the vast, dull Landes de Lanvaux. It is an agricultural region, but at Landes de Lanvaux there is a wooded ridge with heather. The Golfe du Morbihan (12,000 ha; 21 km long, 15 km wide) is an inland sea with hundreds of islands and a true paradise for birds. The Île aux Moines is the largest island of the Golfe du Morbihan and has a subtropical climate.
The Golfe consists of two parts: an eastern basin that is flatter, more like a lagoon, and a western basin with a rocky coastline and strong currents.
Most of the megalithic monuments can be found near Carnac, Loqmariaquer and Erdeven. Quiberon is a peninsula with the Côte Sauvage, the "wild coast". Belle-Îlle is a beautiful island with a rugged coastline and sixty beaches. The Île de Groix has the only convex beach in Europe and blue amphibole (typical of the island), green epidote and red garnet are some of the approx. 60 rare minerals that make up the rocks and beaches of Groix a thousand and one color.
Climate and Weather
Brittany SunsetPhoto: Lilo S CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Brittany has a changeable, mild maritime climate. The changeability is caused by the tides, the moon and the wind. The mild climate is due to the warm Gulf Stream that surrounds Brittany.
The temperature in Brittany does not differ that much from the south coast of England, on average it is slightly warmer on the Breton coasts, because in summer the average temperature is around 20°C. On the Côte de Granit Rose, the climate is almost subtropical due to the strong influence of the warm Gulf Stream.
The months of May, June and September are the sunniest. Southern Brittany receives more than 2,200 hours of sunshine per year, while the north has only 1,700 hours of sunshine per year. It rarely freezes in Brittany, on the north coast less than 15 days a year. In winter, temperatures average between 6 and 8°C, but warm, humid air from the tropics means temperatures can rise to 12°C in January. Heavy storms mainly occur in winter. Summer in Brittany starts around mid-June and continues until mid-October.
It is a myth that it "always rains" in Brittany. It does rain very regularly, but never very much because it usually drizzles. It is significant that the amount of precipitation in cities such as Brest and Rennes is almost equal to southern Toulouse. Most of the rain falls inland, especially in the months of April and October. In the highest parts of Brittany, up to 1200 mm of rain falls over an average of 200 days a year. The plateaus of western Brittany, on the other hand, only receive 800 mm of rain per year. The island of Belle Îlle is the Breton region with the least rainfall, averaging only 683 mm per year. The tides so prominent in Brittany are caused by the lunar pull of the moon on the waters of seas and oceans. The tide changes every six hours, and those changes shift a bit every day. The differences between high and low tides can vary considerably, the tidal range in the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel can be more than 16 meters, on the Atlantic side of the peninsula it is a maximum of six meters. The flood penetrates the sea arms and rivers for many miles; on the Loire this can be observed up to 75 kilometers inland.
Plants and Animals
Brittany's plant and animal world is strongly influenced by the warm Gulf Stream. As a result, the temperature is higher and different plants and trees grow in Brittany than you would normally expect at this latitude. There are even some palm species. Brittany has no native plant and animal species. Only some native subspecies live there, e.g. the (green) scarab in the south and the daffodils of Glénan, which only grow on a few islands of the archipelago.
Glenan Daffodil BrittanyPhoto: Massecot in the public domain
Due to its geographic location, you can find both Mediterranean and northern plant species in Brittany. For example, mimosa, hydrangea and camellia have been able to adapt due to the mild climate.
Five thousand years before our era, Brittany was largely covered by a dense belt of Brocéliande. Only 7500 ha of this primeval forest is left, the current Forêt de Paimpont. Pine trees, oaks and beeches grow there. There are also heather and gorse fields, which extend over an area of 2000 ha. At present, only about 10% of the Breton territory is covered with mainly oak and beech forests.
Sea oats and sea thistle grow along the coast, on the beaches and in the dunes, which, among other things, ensure the strength of the dunes. Furthermore, sea rocket, spurge, sea thistle, bindweed, carnation and various types of melde.
In addition to five types of heather, golden gorse, broom and dog rose also grow on the heathlands. The sandy, muddy coastal areas are covered with grayish, low vegetation such as samphire, lye herb, sea lavender and salt marsh. On the cliffs and rocky coasts special plants grow such as English grass, cuckoo flower, goldenrod, sea look, broom, small ferns and various lichens.
It rains much less on the island of Bréhat than on the mainland. Thanks to this exceptional microclimate, the vegetation can be called almost Mediterranean: eucalyptus, palm tree, mimosa, hydrangea and fig tree can be found here.
The daffodils of the Glénan archipelago are unique. Thanks to careful protection, the Glénan daffodil was kept from extinction; in 1993 more than 57,000 stems were counted. The vegetation around the river Étel in the Morbihan is also special with, among other things, gorse, gorse, heather, foxglove and the rare plant Eryngium viviparum.
The dunes of Keremna are considered a very special area on a European level because of its flora: more than 600 plant species grow in the most diverse environments: including Orchis pyramidalis, Dactolyrhiza praetermissa, the rare green tuberchis, wild thyme, stonecrop, creeping stable herb, creeping bindweed and sand oats.
Shearwaters BrittanyPhoto: Putneymark CC 2.0 Unported no changes made
As with the plants you will find in Brittany both Mediterranean and northern animal species. Sand pipit, raven and red chough have adapted to the mild climate from the north.
Brittany is very attractive to all kinds of sea birds. At the end of the summer, birds that have nested in northern Europe appear on the coast of Brittany. Some fly on to warmer places, but many spend the winter on the Breton coast. In the spring the hibernators leave again to the north to brood. Brittany's largest seabird is the gannet.
On the sandy beaches and dunes you will find the ringed plover, the European bee-eater and the three-toed sandpiper.
Bays and swampy coastlines are populated by sandpipers, herring gulls, egrets, shelducks, brent geese and oystercatchers.
Cliffs and rocky coasts are an excellent habitat for fulmars, puffins, shags and shearwaters.
The moors in the interior of Brittany are populated by hen harriers, curlews and garden warblers.
Snipe, moorhen and heron are examples of the bird life in fens and along river banks.
The guillemot hibernates on the coast of the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. They breed in colonies on cliffs at Cap Fréhel and Cap Sizun, at Camaret and on the Sept-Îles.
In the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean, many crustaceans, spider or swimming crabs and sea snails such as the rough periwinkle, the brackish water horn, the pinhorn and the pelican foot are caught. Common types of fish include plaice, sea bass, mackerel, sole and sardine. The longest river in Finistère, the Aulne, is one of the most fish-rich rivers in the world.
Larger mammals include deer, foxes, otters and sometimes wild boars. Many small mammals such as voles, rabbits and weasels inhabit the fields, the overgrown walls and the forests. Seals can still be found on the island of Molène or in the bay of Morlaix. The beaver has lived in the Breton rivers since 1968, after disappearing for several centuries.
The rivers are populated by many species of fish, such as perch, pike, eel, trout, haddock and salmon.
Basking sharks are found in the L'Iroise National Marine Park due to the rich stock of plankton, but cone seals and dolphins also like to come here.
Ouessant Sheep BrittanyPhoto: Édouard Hue CC 4.0 International no changes made
The small sheep of the island of Ushant (42-48 cm high and 13-18 kg weight) are a distinct breed with a black, thick, woolly coat. About a thousand sheep live on the island, many of which are cross breeds. The real Ouessant sheep is almost extinct. The mild climate provides numerous birds, including blackbird, song thrush, great tit, collared dove, barn swallow, lesser reed warbler, wheatear, Provençal warbler, grass pipit and yellow wagtail. Furthermore, one bird of prey on the island, the kestrel, and a rare crow species, the red-billed chough. The headland pointe de Pern or Penn ar Roch is a true paradise for sea birds, including fulmar, gannets, kittiwakes, arctic shearwater, limicool, equestrian bird, sandpiper, plover and turnstone.
The wall lizards of the Glénan archipelago are unique. On the Séné peninsula lies the nature reserve Réserve biologique de Falguerec, which houses rare resident birds such as wigeons, golden-eyed divers, pintails, redshanks, avocets and stilt avocets. In winter, tens of thousands of brent geese from the Siberian tundra settle here.
Brittany has a very rich fish fauna, with about 40 species, nine of which are nationally protected. Freshwater only fish (holobiotic) include European brook trout, roach, perch, tench, pike, carp, sunfish, catfish, trout bass and sand. Fresh and salt-water fish (amphibiotic) include the Mayfish, Twaite shad, sea lamprey, river lamprey, Atlantic salmon, sea trout and European eel.
A number of bat species that occur in Brittany are the greater horseshoe bat, the lesser horseshoe bat, the rare mustache or beard bat and the common pipistrelle bat. The otter is almost extinct in France. Between the rocks of the Gorges de Toul Goulic, this marten-like yet safe hiding place.
Prehistory (to 3,000 BC)
Cairn of Barnenez BrittanyPhoto: Gerhard Haubold CC Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made
Around 5000 BC, at the beginning of the Neolithic, traces of human presence become more numerous. The prehistoric people worked the land and tried to make a living here. They made axes and polished granite, which they traded in the Rhone Valley, Southeast France and England.
The social organization with division of labor was stable at the time, witness the impressive megalithic monuments. Some megalithic tombs or dolmens (“stone table in Breton”) were in the shape of a burial chamber, which you reached through a long corridor; they are huge blocks of stone covered with a burial mound. The oldest dolmen, from 4600 BC, is the cairn in Barnenez. The main concentration of dolmens is located in Carnac, some, such as the Giant of Locmariaquer, are as high as 20 meters. Just as spectacular are the menhirs, these are imposing, upright stones that probably had a religious function in a religion focused on the heavenly bodies.
Antiquity (3000 BC - 476 AD)
Brittany Celtic CoinPhoto: Public domain
About 500 BC, the Armorica peninsula or "land of the sea" was occupied by Celts. Five tribes settled here: the Osismen (in Finistère), the Veneti (in Morbihan), the Coriosoliten (in Côtes d'Armor), the Riedones (in Ille-et-Vilaine) and the Namneten (in Loire-Atlantique). The Celts lived in small villages and fortified settlements, they were farmers who also worked iron, minted coins and traded overseas. The government was in the hands of a nobility of warriors and clergy, the druids. The forces of nature attributed them to various gods whom they worshiped with sacrifices. Itinerant bards (poets-musicians) sang about the exploits of mythical heroes.
Armorica and the Romans
In 57 BC, the Romans occupied Armorica and the rest of Gaul. A year later the Veneti revolted and took refuge on the rocky cliffs of the Atlantic coast. With difficulty, Julius Caesar managed to defeat them in a naval battle outside the Gulf of Morbihan. Armorica was added to the province of Lugdunensis, and remained under Roman rule for 400 years. The province was divided into five areas, which corresponded to the Celtic tribal areas. A road network and a few new small towns, such as Condate (now Rennes), Darioritum (now Vannes) and Condevincum (now Nantes) accelerated the process of romanization. While baths, amphitheaters and villas showed the influence of Roman civilization, the Celtic and Roman gods were worshiped together. In the countryside the Roman influence was present, and therefore their influence was limited. When the Roman Empire began to collapse in the 3rd, 4th century, the area became unstable. Frankish and Saxon pirates plundered the cities, and the population fled. The coastline was insufficiently protected by fortresses such as Alet (close to St Malo) and Le Yaudet (in Ploulec’h). At the beginning of the 5th century, Armorica was abandoned.
Arrival of the British
British in BrittanyPhoto: Public domain
During the 6th century, large numbers of Britons (Celtic tribe) from Wales and Cornwall crossed the English Channel to settle in Armorica, which they called "Little Britain" or "Brittany". It was a peaceful invasion that lasted 200 years. Among the newcomers were many Christian monks, who introduced a Celtic variant of Christianity. Isolated hermitages or hermits were built on islands off the coast and the monasteries were led by abbots who were also itinerant bishops. They included Brieuc, Malo, Tugdual (in Tréguier) and Samson (in Dol); with Gildas, Guénolé, Méen and Jacut, who became the subject of hagiographies from the 8th century, they inspired the religious traditions that still exist today; witnesses of this are the pilgrimages and pardons such as the Troménie in Locronan.
Some 2,500 years ago Locronan was a unique center of Celtic religion. With Celtic astronomical reference points, a nemeton was constructed, a four-sided circuit of 12 km interrupted by 12 beacons corresponding to the 12 cycles of the lunar calendar. Although Benedictine monks took this Celtic place to build a priory, the perimeter of the sacred route survived the arrival of Christianity. The Celtic astronomical markers became the 12 stopping points of a procession. The word troménie is derived from the Breton words tro (round) and miniby (monastic country). The oldest troménie dates back to 1299. The grande troménie causes the pilgrim to go to heaven and is equivalent to three petites troménies.
The British immigrants introduced the typically Breton place names. The prefix plou (in eg Plougamel) or its variants plo, plu or plé, comes from the Latin plebs (the common people) and it refers to a community of Christians. Lan (as in Lannion and Lannilis) stands for "monastery". Tré (as in Trégastel), from the old British word treb, means an inhabited place. The concentration of these place names in Western Brittany, and the frequent names ending with ac in the east, from the Latin acum (as in Trignac, Sévignac), indicates a cultural dichotomy. This proves, among other things, the presence of two languages: French, derived from Latin, east of the line La Baule-Plouha, and Breton to the west of it.
The Breton kingdom
Nominoe BrittanyPhoto: Public domain
From the 6th to the 10th centuries, the peninsula, now called Britannia, successfully defended itself against attempts by the Frankish kings who controlled Gaul to take control of the region. Many times the Merovingians invaded Brittany, but their influence was short-lived and the Bretons remained independent. Martial local leaders or viceroys provided the administration. The mighty Carolingian dynasty could only establish a buffer zone, the so-called mark, which ran from the Baie du Mont-St.-Michel to the mouth of the Loire. From about 770, that "mark" was under the control of Roland, a "cousin" of Charlemagne. In the 9th century, the Bretons established an independent kingdom, the borders of which ran to Angers in the east, Laval in the south and Cherbourg in the northwest. Noménoé, who defeated Charles the Bald at the Battle of Ballon in 845, was the first king. His son, Erispoe, succeeded him, but was murdered in 857 by his cousin Salomon. His reign, until 874, was the height of the Breton monarchy. Brittany's political independence was reinforced by the clergy, who opposed the diocese of Tours. It was the heyday of the Benedictine abbeys, they were rich centers of culture. Beautifully illuminated manuscripts and the historic Cartular de Redon (see figure) were created
The Invasion of the Normans
Brittany Henry PlantagenetPhoto: Public domain
From the end of the 8th century, the attacks of the Scandinavian Normans increased. They sailed into Breton estuaries and inlets, plundered cities and monasteries, and sowed death and destruction. Entire monastic communities fled east and took their saints' relics with them. After the murder of Solomon in 874 chaos broke out in Brittany. Order seemed to be reversing when King Alain Barbetorte recaptured Nantes in 937 and defeated the Normans at Trans in 939. These Vikings settled in neighboring Normandy and their raids became less frequent.
From the 10th to the 14th century, Brittany slowly became a feudal state. Some independence remained from the French and English kings, both of whom had a crush on Brittany. In the 12th century, Brittany, now a county, narrowly escaped annexation to the Anglo-Angevin kingdom of the Plantagenets. William the Conqueror, who had won the Battle of Hastings in 1066, had united Normandy and England. His successor, Henry Plantagenet, was also Count of Anjou. In 1156 he took Conan IV, Count of Brittany, under his wing. Conan's daughter, Constance, was to marry Geoffroy, son of the King of England and brother of Richard the Lionheart and John without Land. In 1203 the latter murdered Geoffroy's son, Arthur, and thus Brittany came under the rule of the English king. The French king, Philip II August, then forced Arthur's half-sister, Alix, to marry a French prince, Pierre de Dreux. Brittany then came under the direct control of the French Crown as a royal fief. The Count of Brittany paid his respects to the French king and pledged his loyalty and support. Despite these developments, a Breton state of its own developed. In 1297, the French King Philip IV the Fair made a vassal duchy of the fiefdom. Although bound to the French king as a vassal, the Count (then Duke) of Brittany was firmly in the saddle to gain independence by the 13th century. As Duke of Richmond, in Yorkshire, he was also a vassal to the Plantagenet king and thus allowed him to steer a cautious political course between the two monarchs. In Brittany, however, his authority was limited by the power of his feudal lords, who managed great fiefs from their safe, impregnable castles. They included the barons of Vitré and Fougères, on the border of Normandy, and the Viscount of Porhoët, who ruled 140 villages and 400,000 hectares of land from the Château de Josselin.
Life in the city and on the country during the Middle Ages
The inhabitants of the countryside seem to have lived more peacefully in Brittany than in the rest of France. In the west of the peninsula there was an unusual type of fiefdom that lasted until the French Revolution. Each piece of land had two owners: one owned the land and the other the buildings and the crops. Neither could be evicted without payment for the value of his property. The small towns did not have independent government. Almost all of them were fortified, and many lay on an inlet. City residents mainly lived from the linen trade. Feudal Brittany was very religious. As the population grew and new hamlets appeared, so did the number of parishes, with the prefix loc (like Locmaria) or ker (like Kermaria) in their names. The ancient pagan beliefs fused with the worship of ancient Breton saints; around their relics, pardons and pilgrimages took place. The most famous is Tro Breizj, a tour of about 650 km through Brittany, past shrines in St Malo, Dol, Vannes, Quimper, St Pol, Tréguier and St Brieuc.
Breton War of Succession
Brittany Charles of Blois capturedPhoto: Public domain
From 1341 to 1364, Brittany was ravaged by the struggles of two families claiming the duchy. This conflict became part of the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) between France and England. The French supported Charles of Blois and his wife Jeanne de Penthièvre, the English Jan of Montfort and his wife Jeanne de Flamme. This war, in which both women were closely involved, led to such isolated incidents as the Battle of Thirty (1351). The war ended with the victory of the Montfonts: Charles of Blois was killed at the Battle of Auray (1364) and Bertrand du Guesclin was taken prisoner. The victory of Jan IV van Montfort was confirmed by the Treaty of Guérande. His family ruled almost independent Brittany for more than a century and could count on English support to thwart the French king's aspirations.
New time (1453 - 1789)
Highlight of the Breton state
Chateau de Tiffaugs BrittanyPhoto: Benoît Bâlon CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
In the 15th century, the Breton state reached the height of its power. The Duke of Brittany, who had the status of prince and was crowned in Rennes Cathedral, settled in Nantes. Surrounded by courtiers, it ushered in a new era in which artists were protected and Breton culture was given an important historical role. The administration (council of ministers, chancellery, court) was divided between Nantes, Vannes and Rennes. Annually, the Breton States met to vote on taxes. These intricate, heavy taxes could not finance the Duke's increasingly delirious pastimes, nor could they afford the maintenance of fortresses and an army. But by raising the necessary funds himself, the duke was able to keep the French king at bay. From the reign of John V (1399-1442), Brittany remained relatively neutral during the Hundred Years' War. Because of this the Bretons enjoyed a certain prosperity. Overseas trade developed: Breton sailors acted as intermediaries between Bordeaux and England, exporting salt from Guérande and linen from Vitré, Locronan and Léon. The population of Brittany, less affected by the plague than the rest of France, grew to 800,000 refugees from Normandy settling in the east, while many impoverished exponents of the lower nobility sought their fortune elsewhere in France. Brave mercenaries fought on both sides during the Hundred Years War. Three of them, Bertrand du Guesclin, Olivier de Clisson and Arthur de Richemon, became senior military in France. The nobles enlarged their castles and turned them into impressive residences. However, moral decay took place, the low point being the pernicious abuse of children and the brutal murder of them, during a Satanist ritual, by Gilles de Rais (figure), a brother in arms of Joan of Arc, at the Château de Tiffauges, near Nantes. In the 15th century a typical Breton variant of the Gothic architectural style developed, in which the refinement of the late Gothic was combined with the austerity of granite. A university was founded in Nantes in 1460.
End of Independence
Louis XII FrancePhoto: Public domain
Francis II (1458-1488), the incompetent and degenerate Duke of Brittany, was powerless against the rising royal power in France, where Louis XI deposed the last great vassals in 1477. Brittany was the only major fief remaining to be subdued. Forced to war, Francis II was defeated in 1488. In the Treaty of Le Verger, he had to surrender to the king if his successor was to rule Brittany. He died shortly afterwards. His daughter and successor, Anna of Brittany, was less than 12 years old. Anna of Brittany married Charles VIII. Louis XII, who succeeded Charles VIII, married Anna according to an agreement from the time of her marriage to Charles.
Brittany part of France
Brittany Edict of NantesPhoto: Public domain
Brittany's inclusion in the French kingdom meant no fundamental difference to the Bretons. The 1532 Liaison Treaty guaranteed that their "rights, freedoms and privileges" would be respected. The province was ruled on behalf of the king by a governor, usually with connections to prominent Breton families. The interests of the population were in principle defended by the Breton States, a body which, however, was not representative, because the rural population did not have a representative. The nobility and high clergy played an important role. In the 16th century, Brittany did not suffer much from the wars of religion between Catholics and Protestants. After 10 years of struggle, from 1589 to 1598, Mercoeur had to withdraw and Henry IV signed the Edict of Nantes, ending the Wars of Religion.
Resist the monarchy
In the 17th century, royal power became absolute and the French monarchy developed into a centralized government. Local autonomy was limited and taxes rose. This revived Breton nationalism, especially among the lower nobility. This remained so until the end of the Ancien Régime. More problematic for the royal authority was the opposition of the Breton States and the Breton parliament against the intendant and the governor. While the States said they were defending Breton autonomy, they in fact supported the interests of the nobility. Tensions ran high from 1759 to 1770, culminating in the conflict between Louis-René de Caradeuc de La Chalotais, the ambitious and popular chargé d'affaires of the Breton parliament, and the Duke of Aiguillon, the authoritarian Breton commander-in-chief. The "Breton Question" heated up the mood and only died down after the death of Louis XV in 1774.
Brittany's prosperous ports
Jacques Cartier BrittanyPhoto: Public domain
During the Ancien Régime, Brittany was economically prosperous. The ports were heavily used, both because of Brittany's inclusion in France and the new sea routes across the Atlantic. Brittany took part in the voyages of discovery with an expedition to Canada by Jacques Cartier from Saint-Malo (1534-1542). The three busiest ports were Saint Malo, Nantes and Lorient, built in 1666 as a base for the French East India Company. Economic coastal activities were disrupted by a conflict between France and England when the English attacked Saint-Malo, Belle-Île and Saint-Cast. Because of the conflicts, Colbert had an armory built in Brest around 1680 and Vauban reinforced the coastal defenses.
Modern time (from 1789 -…)
The Chouans and the Revolution
Napoleon FrancePhoto: Public domain
During the French Revolution, Brittany was divided into "les bleus", which supported the innovations, and "les blancs", which supported the Ancien Régime. "Les bleus" were formed by the liberal boureoisie and residents of the western Breton cantons who opposed the nobility and the clergy. "Les blancs", nobles and recalcitrant clergy, were in the majority in South and East Brittany. In 1792 the conspiracy against the Revolution by a few aristocrats led by La Rouerie failed, but ordered the recruitment of 300,000 men for the war, the Loire-Atlantique, the Morbihan and Ille-et-Vilaine revolted. The Chouans, led by Cadoudal, Guillemot, Boishardy and Jean Chouan, waged a guerrilla war. The Republicans responded with terror: 10,000 people were beheaded or drowned in Nantes. "Les blancs" are defeated. The army of Catholics and Royalists was defeated at Savenay in 1793; attempts by other nobles to go to Brittany with British help were thwarted. In June 1795, Hoche's republican army captured 6,000 of them in Quiberon and killed 750 people. Stability returned only with the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte, who reconciled Church and State, appointed prefects and guaranteed military control through the construction of roads and garrison towns, such as Napoléonville in Pontivy. Napoleon's wars, during which the British ruled the seas, impoverished Brittany, despite privateers such as Robert Surcouf from St Malo.
The 19th century
During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the economy in Brittany stagnated, despite a thriving canning industry. Fishing off Iceland and Newfoundland was also an important livelihood. As poets, ethnologists and folklorists began to record Breton traditions and ancient legends, awareness of Brittany's Celtic heritage grew. The Breton language, the use of which was strongly discouraged in public education during the Third Republic (1870-1940), found ardent adherents among the clergy.
Brittany in the modern era
Telecom BrittanyPhoto: Telecom Bretagne in the public domain
After the Second World War, Brittany recovered well. Since 1950, the Comité d'Etude et de Liaison des Intérêts Bretons has been responsible for investments and decentralized settlements, such as Citroën in Rennes and telecommunications in Lannion and Brest. Toll-free highways, high-speed trains and the construction of airports have ended Breton isolation. Thanks to the Canal connections and a strong hotel industry, this is now the second most popular tourist destination in France.
See also the history of France on Landenweb.
Brittany women in Traditional CostumePhoto: XIIIfromTOKYO CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
About a century ago, Brittany had to contend with a significant migration to the cities, which emptied the countryside. Since the 1960s, there has been a positive migration balance again, not least because of the increasing tourism. In the last 25 years, the number of inhabitants has grown faster than the national average.
Brittany has about 4.6 million inhabitants (2017). Most people live on the coast, with the exception of the capital Rennes. In the summer, tourists flock and the population of Brittany doubles temporarily. Several hundred islanders live on the islands off the coast (100 on Hoëdic, 4500 on Belle-Île).
The population density of Brittany is approximately 112 inhabitants per km2. (2017)
French and Breton Traffic SignsPhoto: Public domain
In Brittany, a Celtic language is spoken in addition to French: Breton or "Brezoneg". The Celtic languages of Western Europe are divided into two groups. The first group consists of Irish Gaelic and the almost extinct Scottish Gaelic and Manx languages. The second group consists of Kymrian (Welsh) and Breton; the closely related Cornish is extinct. Breton thus stems from Celtic, which used to be a widely spoken language in Europe. When Brittany, or Armorica as it was called at the time, was subdued by the Romans some fifty years before our era, the Bretons left for present-day Great Britain and the Celtic language disappeared. They returned between the 5th and 7th centuries and Brittany remained an independent state until the 15th century. Breton was spoken all over the peninsula west of the line from Mont-Saint-Michel to the mouth of the Loire. The extreme border was approximately at the level of present-day Rennes.
Breton is still spoken and understood by some 300,000 to 500,000 people today, far less than the 1,300,000 people who achieved it in 1930. By 1900, everyone in Brittany knew Breton, and only half of the population spoke French. In 1950 there were only 100,000 people who mastered Breton and not French. Breton is only the official language in the region west of the St-Brieuc-Vannes line, and then only by the older generation. The area where Breton enjoys the greatest following is the square between Vannes, Quimper, Brest and Paimpol. Many place names and family names go back to ancient Breton from the 5th to the 10th century.
Along with the revival of Breton culture in the 1960s and 1970s, the Breton language has also been revived, mainly thanks to the establishment of bilingual schools, the so-called "Diwan schools". There is also an official Breton academy and a Breton television channel (TV Breizh), all of which try to keep Breton alive.
In Breton, both English sounding hisses and Germanic guttural sounds are used.
Brittany can be divided into two in terms of language: Haute-Bretagne or "Pays Gallo" and Basse-Bretagne or "Bretagne Bretonnante". In Haute-Bretagne only French is spoken, in Basse-Bretagne people speak French and Breton. In Basse-Bretagne, four regions can be distinguished with their own Breton dialect:
Cornouaille with the Cornouallais
Léon with the Léonard
Tréguier with the Trégorrois
Vannes with the Vannetais
Léon's Breton is considered the purest and literary form; the most different is the dialect in Vannes.
A language that has almost been forgotten but still exists is Gallo (Breton: Gallec) or British Romanesque. Supporters want to define Gallo as a language and not just a dialect. Gallo, like old French, Picardy and Norman, is a Romanesque language that comes from folk Latin. The border between Gaul and Breton Brittany now runs along the line from Plouha (Côtes d’Armor) to Ambon (Morbihan) over Mûr-de-Bretagne.
The elective "Gallo, language and culture" is taught at six colleges and nine secondary schools of the Academy of Rennes and at the university teacher training courses of Saint-Brieuc and Vannes.
Some Breton words:
- Kenavo = goodbye
- Da gousket! = to bed!
- Nozvezh vat = sleep well
- Degemer mat = welcome
- Avel = wind
- Heol = sun
- Kastell = castle
- Men = stone, rock
- Iliz = church
- Huel = high
- Feunteun = source, fountain
- Taol = table
- War-raok = forward
- Yar mat! = health!
- Yec’hed matte! = cheers!
- Mar plij = please
- Nevez = new
- Penn = end, head
- Pesk = fish
- Bara = bread
- Ouzh tao! = at the table!
- Coat = forest
- Enez = island
For information about French, which is of course the official language, see France
The Catholic faith was spread across Brittany as early as the 5th and 6th centuries by monks from Wales, Ireland and Cornwall. From the 1950s onwards, the number of practicing Catholics has declined drastically. In the early 1980s, only 20% of the Catholic population attended church regularly. Brittany still has seven dioceses.
Brittany has many hundreds of saints, almost none of which are recognized by the Catholic Church. Some were originally even religious leaders of the Celts who crossed over from Britain to Brittany in the 5th century. Others even date back to pre-Christianization in Brittany and are actually pagan gods under a new name. Most revered saints in Brittany are Sainte-Anne, the patroness of Brittany, and Saint-Yves.
Tro Breizj BrittanyPhoto: Moreau.henri CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Many local Saints are given thanks or asked for forgiveness once a year during so-called "pardons". Each parish has its own saint, so the pardons are many, especially in the west of Brittany, and very different. Sometimes they are purely pious manifestations, others have a somewhat more secular character. Some pardons are more than a normal procession: the trail then has a length of many kilometers and lasts several days. The women often wear traditional costume, the main eye-catcher being the famous headgear, the "coiffes".
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the 'Tro Breizh' was held, an approximately 525 kilometer long journey through Brittany, which took you past the tombs of the seven patron saints: Patern in Vannes, Corentin in Quimper, Pol-Aurélien in Saint-Pol- de-Léon, Tugdual in Tréguier, Brieuc in Saint-Brieuc, Malo in Saint-Malo and Samson in Dol-de-Bretagne. These patron saints, who came over from Great Britain in the 5th century, were active in Brittany as missionaries and christening the country.
In 1994 parts of this tour were restored by two organizations: "La route historique du Tro Breizh" and "Les chemins du Tro Breizh". The "Pardon de Ste-Anne d'Auray" is Brittany's greatest pardon. Four times a year they receive about 20,000-30,000 pilgrims. Two unusual pardons are the Islamic-Christian pardon of Le Vieux-Marché and the Madonna pardon of the motorcyclists in Porcaro. The pardon of Le Vieux-Marché was first held in 1954 with the aim of symbolizing the rapprochement between Islam and Christianity. During the motorcyclists' pardon, for the first time in 1979, thousands of motorcycles are blessed.
France Administrative DivisionPhoto: Public domain
France is a democratic republic that originated in the year 1789, when the French Revolution ended the monarchy and the feudal form of government. There are a total of 101 departments (96 in France and 5 in the overseas territories), all of which are numbered in alphabetical order. Every six years people go to the polls to elect a departmental council. They in turn choose the day-to-day management of the department, the departmental committee. It is headed by the prefect, the representative of the national government.
The French departments are subdivided into 326 arrondissements, which in turn are subdivided into 3800 cantons. The smallest administrative units are the approximately 37,000 municipalities, most of which have less than 500 inhabitants.
The departments turned out to be too small to function properly and the country was therefore redistributed into 22 regions. Since 1986, there have been direct elections to a regional parliament, the "Conseil Régional". Regional governance is especially important for promoting the economic, social and cultural development of the region. The regional parliament is advised by an advisory committee, which includes various economic and social organizations. For the current political situation of France, see chapter history.
Brittany flagPhoto: Public domain
In 1893, after a wave of strikes, the first Breton nationalist movement or "Emsav" emerged, which later openly sought independence. In 1898 the Union régionaliste breton (URB) was founded, and in 1911 the first Parti national breton (PNB). The first issue of Breiz Atao ("Brittany Forever") magazine was published in 1919. After the Second World War, the struggle for Brittany's interests continued on various fronts. There were still several organizations that continued to claim autonomy or even independence. The most extreme movement was the FLB-ARB (Front Libération de Bretagne-Armée républicaine bretonne), which carried out several attacks between 1966 and 2000. This resulted in major material damage and one person was killed. The core of the current independence movements consists of the UDB (Union démocratique bretonne), Lémgann ("the struggle") and the POBL (Parti pour l'organisation d'une Bretagne libre). Individuals stick stickers with BZH (= Breizh, Brittany) or the Breton flag on their car. The flag of Brittany is the symbol for all Breton nationalists: 'gwen ha du' (white and black), the colors of the Breton flag with five black stripes symbolizing the five dioceses of Upper Brittany and the four white stripes for that from Lower Brittany.
Menhirs BrittanyPhoto:Steffen Heilfort CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Everywhere in Brittany one can find constructions of giant stones, dating from the 5th to the 2nd century BC. Brittany has about 5000 menhirs and 1000 dolmen. The upright menhirs ("long stones") are usually made of granite and can occur individually in rows (alignment), in circles (cromlech), or squares or quadrilaterals (quadrilatère). The main collection of menhirs is in Carnac. This seaside resort is famous for the many (2935) megalithic stones, which are arranged in long rows. In Kermario there is an alignment of 1029 menhirs arranged in ten rows and covering an area of 1120x100 meters. In Menec there are 1099 menhirs on an area of 1160x100 meters. The tumulus of Kercado, which dates back to 4670 BC, has a diameter of 30 meters and a height of 3.5 meters.
Whether menhirs had an astrological meaning or were intended for worship is not certain. The largest standing menhir in Brittany is the Menhir de Kerloas. The stone is 9.5 meters high and is located near Saint-Renan. The largest menhir in Brittany (20 m, 347 tons) is the fallen Grand Menhir of Locmariaquer; here is also a dolmen, the Table des Marchands, one of the highlights of the megalithic culture.
Dolmens or "stone tables" were originally covered with sand and were used as burial mounds. Burial mounds with stacked stones are called "cairns". On top are huge cover plates that form a corridor that provides access to various burial chambers. One of the finest examples of this architecture is located on the Île de Gravinis in the Golfe du Morbihan. The "allée couverte", a variant of the dolmen, does not distinguish between burial chamber (s) and corridor, but consists of one long corridor that at the end more or less imperceptibly merges into the burial chamber.
Megalith = prehistoric monument in the shape of a large stone; mostly not or very little worked and most likely used as a cult and / or funeral monument
Menhir = vertically placed elongated stone, larger and generally less worked than a stela; menhirs omen singly or in groups
Dolmen = prehistoric grave monument consisting of a number of bearing stones that bear a large capstone
Alignment = a number of menhirs arranged in a more or less straight line; often in a pattern of several parallel lines; alignements are often associated with a cromlech
Allée couverte = gallery grave, an elongated space, consisting of two rows of supporting stones with capstones on top; at the end of the allée couverte, a stone placed transversely sometimes separates a small space from the larger one
Cairn = core of stone within a tumulus
Couloir = corridor as part of a dolmen à couloir or a domen coudé; often provided with a stone-sealed entrance on the short side
Cromlech = collection of menhirs arranged in a circle, sometimes also oval
Dolmen à couloir = dolmen extended with an elongated space; sometimes the hallway contains a side room
Dolmen coudé = identical to a dolmen à couloir, but with a clear bend in the hallway
Stela = upright block of stone, generally smaller than a menhir; often provided with a carved or engraved representation
Tumulus = prehistoric burial mound
Bernard Hinault BrittanyPhoto: Rene Boulay CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Bernard Hinault is a former French racing cyclist. He was born on November 14, 1954 in Yffignac, Cotes du Nord, Brittany.
After Jacques Anquetil (France) and Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Hinault was the third rider to win the Tour de France five times. It is remarkable that he never became world champion on the road. Over the years he drove for the teams Gitane, Gitane-Campagnolo, Renault-Gitane, Renault-Elf-Gitane and La Vie Claire.
Hinault ended his career on November 14, 1986 and has been a member of the organizing committee of the Tour de France for many years.
Hinault's nickname was "Le blaireau", the badger.
ASTERIX and OBELIX
Asterix and Obelix BrittanyPhoto: Ferran Cornellà CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Asterix is the title of a series of comics created by the French cartoonist Albert Uderzo and screenwriter René Goscinny.
The original of the first story, Astérix le Gaulois, was published on October 29, 1959 in the French comic magazine Pilote. The eponymous album was released in 1961, in an edition of 6000 copies. The comics are released in more than 70 countries. After Goscinny's death in 1977, Uderzo continued releasing new stories on his own. Out of respect, Goscinny's name is still mentioned on the albums. The last album with Goscinny, "Asterix and the Belgians", was released two years after his death in 1979.
The comics tell of a village in Gaul (Brittany) that succeeded in resisting the invasion by the Romans led by Julius Caesar with the help of a magic potion that makes the Gauls extremely strong and therefore invincible. The idea of this invincibility may be traced back to a statement made by Julius Caesar in the Bello gallico: "Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae", "Of them all, the Belgians are the bravest". In Roman times, Northern France still belonged to the Belgians.
Asterix: the main character, small but smart. The name Asterix comes from the character *, the asterisk.
Obelix: fell into the cauldron with potion as a child and therefore had enough for his life. The name Obelix comes from the French word Obèle, a cross-shaped punctuation mark. Obelix also refers to obelisk.
Idefix: Obelix's dog (from the French idée fixe).
Getafix: the druid who alone can brew the magic potion.
Abraracourcix: the chief of the village.
Assurancetourix: the bard of the village.
Mont Saint Michel BrittanyPhoto: Public domain
Mont St-Michel is a volcanic island protruding high above the surrounding area amid sandbanks. At the top is a beautiful abbey with a statue of the Archangel Michael at the top. This statue is located approximately 175 meters above sea level.
The abbey dates back to the 8th century when the Bishop of Avranches founded a chapel there. Fortifications were only built in the 13th century. During the French Revolution, Mont St-Michel was used as a prison, and it was not until 1966 that the abbey was again under religious occupation.
Strictly speaking, the abbey mountain lies in the Normandy part of the bay, as the border of Brittany is further west. Since 1877, a dike has made it possible to reach the island with dry feet.
TGV station Rennes BrittanyPhoto: David Monniaux CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Until 1951, Brittany's economy suffered greatly from its remoteness from the rest of France. For a long time, Brittany was too far from the coal ponds, so that the industrial revolution almost completely passed over Brittany. The inadequate road and rail network also slowed down Brittany's industrial development considerably.
However, in 1951, the Comité d’études et de liaison des intérêts bretons (CÉLIB) was set up, and this led to an economic turnaround. The first Citroën factory was founded in Rennes in 1954 and many other companies moved to Brittany in the 1960s.
From the end of the 1960s the entire region was opened up by motorways and the TGV improved connections with the rest of France.
Agriculture and animal husbandry
Plougastel Strawberry BrittanyPhoto: David Monniaux CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Brittany has for some time been the most important agricultural region in France, accounting for approximately 15% of the total French production. Approx. 10% of the labor force is employed in this sector and the production of pork, poultry and milk is largely realized in Brittany. Brittany is also the main producer of artichokes, cauliflower, new potatoes, shallots, tomatoes and green beans. Famous are the onions from Roscoff and strawberries from Plougastel. Brittany represents 11.5% of French agricultural production.
Brittany is by far the largest pig producer in France, supplying about half of the country's needs. Brittany also has the most chickens (75 million) and turkeys (12 million). Brittany represents 21% of French animal production. Butter, eggs and a few cheeses are exported to many European countries. The cattle market of l'Aumaillerie is one of the most important in France, with about 10,000 animals. La Guerche-de-Bretagne hosts the second largest pig market in France every week.
Obviously, the success also has a negative side: Brittany's beautiful countryside is seriously affected by the increasing agricultural activities. For example, about 80% of the rivers are polluted with a too high nitrate content and the biological diversity is deteriorating noticeably.
Brittany TrawlerPhoto: Pline CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Brittany is also the most important area in France for fishing. With approximately 200,000 tons per year, Brittany accounts for more than half of the total French fish production. Brittany has about 7,000 sea fishermen and tens of thousands of people find work in this sector. There are about seventy fishing ports, of which Lorient, Concarneau and Saint Malo are home to industrialized sea fishing. Other important ports are Le Guilvinec and Douarnenez.
Since 1985, the industrial and semi-industrial fisheries have deteriorated considerably due to catch quotas and overfishing. Traditional fishing, on the other hand, is still thriving.
Other sea products that generate a lot of income are oysters, scallops, mussels and algae. The latter sea product is mainly used for the cosmetics industry and as a culinary delicacy. Lanildut is the most important seaweed port in France.
Various economic activities
Usine Maremotrice BrittanyPhoto: Publc domain
One in five employees works in industry. The food industry in particular, but also the car industry, the aviation industry, telecommunications and the shipbuilding industry play an important role in Brittany. Construction and public works account for 8% of industrial activity. Modern industrial zones with high-tech companies and supply companies, the so-called "technopoles", can be found in Rennes, Nantes, Vannes, Lannion and Brest.
In the Usine Maremotrice tidal power plant near Dinard, the large difference between ebb and flow is used to generate electricity. The world's first tidal power station has been producing energy since 1966 and is one of the largest in the world, delivering more than 500 million kilowatt hours per year.
Holidays and Sightseeing
Parc naturel marin d'Iroise, brittanyPhoto: Ton Chirossel CC 4.0 International no changes made
Brittany is currently one of the most popular tourist regions in France, and many British also know their way to the most westerly point of mainland France, Pointe du Raz. During their holiday they can enjoy beautiful nature, including more than 3000 km of coast, in combination with a fascinating mixture of British and French culture.
The Breton landscape is never boring, because rugged cliffs (up to 100 meters high), jagged rocks, dunes, hills, heaths, forests, rivers, canals, bays and surprisingly beautiful and large sandy beaches in South Brittany and North Brittany provide more than enough variety. Natural heritage also includes natural parks such as Parc Naturel Régional d'Armorique, Parc de Brière with its marshes (40,000 ha) and the first marine nature park in France, Parc d'Iroise. Walking and cycling routes lead through these nature reserves, but also through the various cultural landscapes.
Town of Rennes BrittanyPhoto: Tango7174 CC 4.0 International no changes made
The main cities of Brittany are the capital Rennes, Brest, Vannes, Lorient, Quimper and Saint-Malo.
The inner city of Rennes consists of two parts, Vieux Rennes from before the fire of 1720 and the rebuilt part after the fire. Places of interest include the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Musée de Bretagne, the classical Cathédrale St-Pierre and the Hôtel de Ville.
Mostly destroyed in the Second World War, Brest is now a very modern looking city, it still has an important military and civil port. These harbors are also Brest's main attraction, with a harbor tour of all kinds of warships and even submarines a must. Also not to be missed is the Océanopolis, one of the largest aquariums in Europe. For plant lovers there is the Conservatoire Botanique National de Brest (nursery rare plants).
Vannes BrittanyPhoto: Fab5669 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Medieval-looking Vannes with all its half-timbered houses is worth a visit for the Musée d'histoire de Vannes, the Cathédrale St-Pierre, the Aquarium de Vannes (also tropical fish) and Le Jardin aux Papillons (butterflies),
Lorient, completely destroyed in World War II, still has 17th-century ramparts, but the highlight of this city, with an important fishing and marina, is the citadel by the sea, which also houses the Musée de la Compagnie-des-Indes and the Musée de la Marine are located.
Quimper is known for its 13th / 15th century gothic Cathédrale St-Corentin, the Musée des Beaux Arts and the Musée Départemental Breton, on the history and archeology of the Finistère region.
Like Lorient, Saint-Malo was also destroyed during the Second World War, but a walk on the ramparts of the old restored city center is still an experience, as is a visit to Fort National at the end of the 17th century. Furthermore, Saint-Malo houses a preserved 14th-century fortress, the Musée d'Histoire de la Ville and the Grand Aquarium St-Malo annex reptile house attracts many visitors.
Carnac BrittanyPhoto: Vassil in the public domain
The area around Carnac can be called the megalithic world capital: to the north of this village, hundreds of megalithic stones are arranged in different shapes: menhirs (single stones), dolmens (hunebeds), tumuli (burial mounds), alignements (rows of stones) and cromlechs (rows of stones) that end in a stone circle). Near the hamlet of Kermario there are ten alignments of a total of 1029 menhirs, Ménec has 1099 menhirs and Kerlescan 555. Another special feature is an almost 7000 year old large burial mound near Kercado. Those who want to know more about these monuments can visit the Musée de Préhistoire in Carnac and the Maison des Mégalithes in Ménec.
Argol: Musée du Cidre (cider)
Audierne: L'Aquashow (fish, other aquatic animals, birds, bird of prey show), Musée Maritime du Cap Sizun
Baie des Trépassés: Cape Pointe du Van, Cape Pointe du Raz
Bazouges-la-Pérouse: children's playground
Bécherel: many antique dealers and monthly book market, remains of a medieval fortress, Château de la Chatolais,
Bruz: Parc Ornithologique de Bretagne (bird park)
Cap de la Chèvre: (minerals and fossils)
Cap Fréhel: stunning views, 17th century lighthouse, 14th century Fort la Latte
Carhaix-Plouguer: Karaez Adrénaline (tree climbing)
Concarneau: Ville Close (island in the harbor, also old town), Musée de la Peche (fishing), Marinarium du Collège de France (aquarium)
Moulins de Kerouat BrittanyPhoto: Thesupermat CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Commana: Moulins de Kerouat (miller's life 17th-19th century)
Corseul: Musée de la Societé Archéologique (including Roman times), Château de Montafilan (12th-century castle)
Dol-de-Bretagne: Cathédrale St-Samson, Menhir de Champ Dolent (one of the largest menhirs in Brittany, approx. 9.5 m high)
Douarnenez: Port-Musée (dozens of old ships), Musée de Bateau (maritime museum)
Fougères: Château Fougères, Musée l'Artisan du Temps (clock museum), the second largest cattle market in France every Friday morning
Golfe du Morbihan: about 40 inhabited islands, Tumulus de Gavrinis (circumference 50 m, height 6 m)
Guérande: Musée de la Poupée et de Jouets (dolls and toys), Terre de Sel (salt production)
Guingamp: Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, Grand Pardon de Guingamp (procession)
Hanvec: Maison de Ménez-Meur (draft horses)
Hennebont: Basilique Notre Dame-du-Paradis, 13th-century ramparts, Camors Adventure Forest (tree climbing)
La Baule: famous seaside resort (South Brittany), Océarium
Landévennec: ruin of the Abbaye de St-Guénolé (485)
Temple de Lanleff BrittanyPhoto: Hugues Mitton CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Lanleff: Temple de Lanleff (rebuilt chapel from the 11th century)
Le Cloitre St-Thégonnec: Musée du Loup (wolf)
Locmariaquer: important center of megalithic monuments
Locqueffret: Maison du Recteur (priestly life in previous centuries)
Locronan: Église St-Ronan (15th century) connected to the Chapelle du Pénity (16th century), Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle, Le Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Locronan, Pardon de Locronan (annual procession Petite Troménie, six-yearly Grande Troménie)
Malansac: Parc de Préhistoire (30 prehistoric scenes)
Moncontour: 13th-14th century city defense, Église st-Mathurin, Théatre du Costume (medieval clothing until 1900)
Morlaix: Église Ste-Mélanie, Musée de Jacobins (modern art), Cairn de Barnenez (very large burial mound)
Muzillac: Parc Animalier et Botanique de Branféré (mainly monkeys, antelopes, birds)
Ushant: Musée des Phares et Balises (Breton lighthouses)
Paimpont: Église Abbatiale (13th century), Forêt de Paimpont (forest)
Perros-Guirec: famous seaside resort (North Brittany)
Pleumeur-Bodou: Cosmopolis (largest planetarium in Europe)
Côte de Granit Rose BrittanyPhoto: Patrick GIRAUD CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Ploumanac'h: Côte de Granit Rose (pink granite rock formations)
Pont-l'Abbé: Musée Bigouden (traditional Breton costume)
Pontivy: Château des Rohan (16th century late medieval military architecture)
Redon: St-Saveur church (9th century)
Roscoff: Aquarium Charles-Pérez (Channel fish species)
Scrignac: Musée de la Faune Sauvage et de la Chasse (game and hunting)
St-Brieuc: Cathédrale St-Étienne (13th century), Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (city and surroundings), Camp Romain de Péran (Roman camp), Parc Zoologique de Trégomeur (mainly Asian animals)
St-Just: important center of megalithic monuments from the period 3800-3500 BC.
St-Ségal: Musée des Champs (Breton agriculture since 19th century)
Ste-Anne-d'Auray: pilgrimage site with the largest procession or 'pardon' of Brittany four times a year
Trégastel-Plage: Marine Aquarium Tregastel
Tréguier: Cathédrale St-Tugdual
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Beaart, P. / Bretagne
Graaf, G. de / Normandië, Bretagne
Radius, J. / Normandië, Bretagne
Roger, F. / Natuurreisgids Bretagne : ontdek de onverwachte en bijzondere natuur van Bretagne
Simon, K. / Bretagne
Ward, G. / Bretagne en Normandië
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country ProfilesLast updated December 2021
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