The traditions of Brittany, Locronan!

So now let’s tackle a serious tourism and heritage subject in my old beautiful Brittany. Tradition with the Bretons is very strong even now, and the legacies of the past are well maintained with their language pushing and the religious beliefs, here strong. One town stands of many on this example.

I like to talk to you today about Locronan in the Finistére dept 29 of Brittany. A town full of traditions and beautiful architecture not to mention history. Enough for me to love it.

Locronan  is a town in the department 29 of Finistére in the region of Brittany.  The important architectural heritage of Locronan, preserved very early, allowed the village to be a member of the network of Small Cities of Character. Locronan is also today gratified of the label of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. Around the church, the roofs of the village are works of art. From its Belle Epoque, the village has preserved a centrally paved square adorned with a well, the vast Church of St. Ronan, and Renaissance houses in granite.

Most Beautiful Villages of France on Locronan

Small Towns of Character in France on Locronan

The Montagne de Locronan (Menez Lokorn in Breton) with its 289 meters of altitude is one of the highest points of the Black Mountain massif characterized by outcroppings of granite on an axis starting from the Pointe de Raz and going up to Lizio near the moors of Lanvaux.  The place of Plas Ar Horn, at the top of the Priory Mountain, which is backed by Locronan, offers a splendid panorama of the Porzay Plain, the Ménez-Hom and the Bay of Douarnenez as a whole.  Its name means “the consecrated place (of the Hermitage) of Saint Ronan”, lok meaning consecrated place in Breton. The ancient archives sometimes call Locronan, Saint-René-du-Bois .

The town  of Locronan is 15 km west of Quimper and 5 km from the sea (Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Douarnenez, Kervel beach  which is part of the commune of Plonévez-Porzay). It is about 110 km from my house.

A bit of history I like

In Roman times, Locronan was at the crossroads of two Roman routes, one coming from Quimper and heading towards the peninsula of Crozon, the other heading towards Douarnenez. Saint Ronan later installed his hermitage (at the site of the present chapel of the Pénity, adjacent in the southern part of the Church of Saint-Ronan), which explains the Christianisation of the town. The main square of Locronan is located at the crossroads of two Roman roads as above.

The existence of a church is attested from 1031 because on this date the count of Cornouaille Alain Canhiart donated the Church of Saint-Ronan to the Abbey of St. Croix of Quimperlé following his victory as he would have implored the rescue from Saint Ronan and won against the Duke Alain III of Brittany and known as the “Battle of Ronan” . Later, the Counts of Cornouaille carried a great devotion to Saint Ronan.

The region was Christianized in the 5C  by Saint Ronan, an Irish hermit. The contemporary oral tradition wants Saint Ronan to travel every day in penance to the circuit of the petite Troménie, and every Sunday that of the Grand Tromérie. The city of Locronan forever keeps track of its passage since we now name it Locronan, the locus (space) of Ronan.  In St. Ronan’s Church, the statue represents him with mitre and lacrosse as a roving abbot or bishop.

As early as the 14C, hemp flourished almost everywhere in the Locronan region. From this production is born an industry of windsurfing, the sails of Locronan would have thus equipped the Invincible Spanish Armada and Shakespeare cites it even in “Coriolanus” (act II, Scene I). It was at this time of prosperity, halted a time by the destructions linked to the Wars of the League (Locronan was looted in 1594 by the Spanish troops, then successively by the war captains  of which belongs  most of the architectural treasures of the granite mansions of the Place de l’église  and the surrounding streets and, of course, the Church of St. Ronan and the small Chapel of the Pénity adjoining it and housing the lying of the Saint (15-16C). Since 1914, there were no more hemp sails artisans in Locronan.

The square, endowed in its center of the old town’s  well, long only source of drinking water of the town, takes its full dimension every second Sunday of July during the Troménies, but even more every six years during the Grande Troménie (next in 2019). The square is lined with 14 granite houses that make up a remarkable architectural ensemble, testifying to the richness of the canvas merchants and other notable people who built them in the 17-18C, including the canvas office and the Hotel de la Compagnie des Indies. The current  rue Moal was the old rue des Tisserants(weavers).

Locronan is famous for its troménies: The Grand Troménie, a procession that is held around the limits of an ancient sacral space, which has become a Leigh (Tro Leigh, now  “Troménie “), every six years (next in 2019). Between two Grand Troménies takes place annually la Petite Troménie, the 2nd Sunday of July.

72 soldiers from Locronan died for France, including 48 during  WWI, 17 during WWII, and 7 during the other conflicts of the 20C.

Things to see, the first one is a must!

The Church of St. Ronan, (15C), and its Chapel of the Pénity where is the tomb of Saint Ronan. The Church was built between 1430 and 1480 by the Lords of the Nevet, with the gifts of the Dukes of Brittany Jean V, Pierre II and François II. It is erected at the site of the Chapel of the Priory depending on the abbey of Sainte-Croix de Quimperlé. Its arrow, struck three times, was finally demolished in 1808. The Church is 43 meters long. The width of the building increases in the last spans of the southern collateral. The big Western Tower, which has lost its arrow, is preceded by a raised porch of several steps. A 17C pulpit is noticed inside. The Tomb of Saint Ronan is in the Chapel of the Pénity, built in 1530 by Renée de France, daughter of King Louis XII appended to the Church at the supposed location of his former Hermitage. The Chapel of the Pénity is a one-nave construction, consisting of three bays, one of which only the western one, does not communicate with the Church of St. Ronan. The Saint is depicted on a stone slab of Kersanton, supported by six angels carrying coats of arms; Two angels stand by his side, the other six bear the funeral table. The recumbent of the Saint shoves with his left hand his butt in the mouth of a monster and he blesses with his right hand.

 

 

locronan

 

locronan

La Place de l’église with its well In curbstone, destroyed in 1932 by a bus, but rebuilt since . The buildings of the Place de l’église date from the 17C and 18C, with the facades of bluish grey granite. The Hôtel Gauthier 16-17C at Place de l’église city center. The camp des Salles ( halls), referred to as Goarem-ar-Salud an ancienne Carolingian camp.

locronan

The Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle (15-16-18C), dedicated to Saint Eutrope. The stained glass windows were made in 1985 according to drawings by the painter Alfred Manesser. The Chapel also houses numerous stone statues, including those of the Virgin Mother, the Holy Trinity and a descent of the Cross. Nearby, the Calvary and the fountain, offered by a canvas merchant named Conan, date from 1698. This chapel is mentioned in the Testament of Jean Le Moine of 1439. It constitutes the fifth station of the route of the Grande Troménie.

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The Museum of Art and History, created in 1934, presents the great moments of the history of Locronan on the ground floor (1st Fl US) and a hundred paintings and drawings representing the Finistère on the first floor (2 FL US), as well as the earthenwares of Quimper. On the ground floor, you can discover a real weaving workshop (stage of the Route des canvases de Bretagne). A loom of the 18C is presented there as well as many tools necessary for the textile work of hemp and flax. In the 16C, this was what made the wealth of Locronan. In this space, we also discover the secret of making Breton costumes and the exhibition of some traditional costumes. As for the first floor, almost a hundred paintings  are exhibited alongside some costumes of the Porzay. The paintings represent the attachment of some men to this city and thus constitute the testimony of an artistic life in Brittany at the beginning of the 20C. By the men who frequented it but also its history and its architecture, the Museum of Locronan is an exceptional site to discover.

The Mountain of Locronan, (Menez Lokorn), have exceptional views, and the vitality of the legend of St. Ronan, the undeniable historical interest of the secular tradition of the Troménie, and more. It is a hill located on the towns of Locronan, Quéménéven and Plogonnec, with an altitude of 289 meters, offering  panoramic views  on the Bay of Douarnenez, the Cap de la Chévre and the Ménez-Hom. It houses the Chapel Ar Zonj, dedicated to Saint Ronan, and the chair of Saint Ronan, both constituting stages of the Troménie. Its north face is surrounded  by the bois du duc (duke forest)  while its southern slope is laid out in hedgerow.

Some webpages in addition to my previous post to help you plan your trip here and it should be a must especially at Christmas time.

City of Locronan at Christmas market

Tourist office of Locronan

Tourist office of Finistére on Locronan

Tourist office of Brittany on Locronan

And there you go , well arm now come and see this beauty you won’t regretted, for sure. And, remember as always, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

One Comment to “The traditions of Brittany, Locronan!”

  1. How interesting to read about the production of hemp and sails made from it. Trust the Spanish Armada to use it against them! Lovely place. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

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