BRITTANY

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A. Finistère  1. Roscoff  2. Brest   3. Île de Batz  4. Île de Sein  5. Douarnenez  6. Îles des Glenan  7. Quimper  8. Concarneau
B. Morbihan 
9. Lorient   10.  Carnac  11. Quiberon  12. Belle-Île  13. Golfe du Morbihan  14. Vannes   15. Josselin
C.
Côtes-d'Armor   16. Paimpol   17.  St-Brieuc  18.  Dinan
D. 
Ille-et-Vilaine   19.  Dinard   20.  St Malo   21.   Cancale   22.  Rennes  23. Forêt de Paimpont

 

       

 

 


 FR BRITTANY Brittany Cows grazing Although the various regions of France are characterised by diversity, Brittany stands alone for its unique geography and culture. The last stronghold of the ancient Celtic tribes in mainland Europe, Brittany still proudly holds fast to its ancient heritage. Not united with France until 1532, Brittany, like its Celtic cousin Ireland, still retains its own Celtic language. Brittany thrusts out into the Atlantic on France’s northwest tip - indeed the Celts knew it as Armorica, the land of the sea, a rugged coastline and countryside in which ancient myth and legend are still palpable. The most exposed, western coastline, ravaged by Atlantic winds, is known as “Finistère” - the end of the earth.

The northern coast of Brittany’s coastline boasts fishing ports and seaside resorts with magnificent beaches, while the south coast is more gentle and undulating. However it is in western Brittany that the distinctive Breton culture still thrives. Quimper and the Pays Bigouden regularly hold fest noz (night festivals), where, apart from the obvious delights of overindulging in crepes and the potent local cider, traditional Breton/Celtic music can be heard. Perhaps the most distinctive sound is the binou, or Breton bagpipes. Foot stamping and table dancing is encouraged.

For those in search of architecture, Vannes, Dinan and the capital Rennes have well preserved half-timbered buildings from the medieval era, yet housing all the modern delights of shops, restaurants and crèperies. Also remarkably well preserved are the castles at Fougères and Vitré, and the walled port of St-Malo on the Côte d’Emeraude, relics of the region’s prowess as a maritime power.


 


 

Menhirs, dolmens and chambered tombs that exist till this day in Brittany are remnants from the region’s Neolithic past. Celts reached the land in 5th century AD, arriving from what is now known as Britain and Ireland. They heralded a new age of Celtic culture influences as well as Christianity.

During the 9th century the Bretons rejected being part of the Frankish Carolingian Empire and the Duchy of Brittany was consolidated and came into existence under Nominoë. The division of the Carolingian empire in 843 presented Nominoë with the chance to gain territory with the help of his son Erispoe who went to battle for him. Eventually, after numerous battles, the French king Charles the Bald decided to recognise the independence of Brittany by handing the royal insignia to Erispoe.

The high middle ages saw an age of conflict between the various dukedoms. This culminated in 1488 when the army of the Kingdom of France defeated the Breton army and forced the Duke of Brittany Francis II to agree to a treaty that allowed the King of France to decide upon the future marriage of the Duke’s daughter who would be heir to the duchy. Duchess Anne was thus the last independent ruler of the duchy before she married Louis XII of France. Duchess Anne’s daughter, Claude, married Francis I of France who proceeded to merge the duchy with the Kingdom of France with the Edict of Union between Brittany and France in 1532.

The 16th and 17th century brought on the golden age of Brittany’s commerce because of the expansion of its ports as well as the development of its industrial and agricultural goods. Brittany proceeded to become one of the key frontiers for resistance to the French Revolution. This is because the National Constituent Assembly in 1789 eradicated feudal privileges that inevitably affected Brittany adversely.

In the 20th century, World War I left a deep impact on Brittany with at least 150,000 dead while World War II saw conflicting interests with some nationalists taking sides with the Nazis whilst others took part in the Resistance. The region was not spared from the relentless bombing of the Allies that resulted in much devastation to the landscape.

The end of World War II allowed Brittany to rapidly embrace modernity and in the past three decades there has been a distinct revival of Celtic customs, traditions and language through various cultural movemen
ts.