La Roche Bernard, a boater’s heaven protected by a rock!

In the continuing saga of my black and white posts, let me take you south of me at the end of the Morbihan dept 56 towards Nantes and a nice sea town. La Roche Bernard, yes is the stone of Bernard, with plenty in my blog on it. This is just an update, revised refresh text of an older post in my blog.

Well back on November 6 ,2011, I wrote an article in my blog about La Roche Bernard. For some reason, the text was lost when I was saving it, and only realise the missing text the next day!!!  Now a bit over 2 years later , I went back with the family and hopefully the text will stay in this one! yes it did!!!

It has been a cool cloudy day but no rain, and perfect for a day out awaiting the start of the Christmas markets season of 2013.  The rock is as old as the  Millennium, around the year 1000, a Lord had a castle on a rock in the new parish of Nivillac. The village of La Roche-Bernard develops from the 11C through the establishment of merchants on the site and port traffic.

Local historians have long speculated on the origin of the name of the Lord who gave his name to the rock: Bernard. They gave him a Norman or Viking origin. If there were actual Normans in the entourage of the Lords Rochois, it is however not possible today to know the origin of the first of them. It was in the 13C only the line of Lords of the rock is attributed as founder Bernard. The site became in acts, from 1231, “Rocha Bernardi», La Roche Bernard.

La Roche-Bernard in the middle ages stretched along the paths of Nantes (rue de l’Hôpital) and Redon (Rue Saint Jacques) based in rue Grant a descending passage on the Vilaine river. The primitive village or Bailiwick stood in the bottom of the town, in current  vieux quartiers or old neighbourhoods. The halles or market were built on the current place du Bouffay. François de Coligny D’Andelot, Lord, baron of La Roche-Bernard, installed the Protestant faith in his barony in the second half of the 16C. This cult lasted in La Roche-Bernard until 1685 when the renunciations were enforced. Local traditions still speak of the Protestant memory places like the two doors of the Notre-Dame Chapel , one used by Catholics, the other, now blocked, borrowed at this time by the Protestants, the granaries of the Tour de l’Isle, places of clandestine worship that communicate…

In 1666, La Roche-Bernard officially became a city. This prosperous period saw the construction of great houses: the Maison de basses-fosses (Museum of the Vilaine), down the street from the dumpling houses are examples. The port internationally trade especially with Northern Europe (Sweden, Norway, England, Wales…) as well as with the Spain.  Set off local production (cereals, timber, salt and wine of the Guérande peninsula…). At the beginning of the 17C, one of the first vessels of the Royal fleet, the La Couronne, was built in La Roche-Bernard on the orders of Richelieu. 60 meters long, 600-man crew… The ship much impressed his contemporaries by its allure.

La Roche-Bernard during the French revolutionary period was often described as a Republican bastion encircled by Chouans. The French revolution creates new territorial entities and La Roche-Bernard passes  the responsibility of Nantes (Diocese of Nantes and sénéchaussée of Guérande) to Vannes (Morbihan Department).

La Roche-Bernard thrives in the 19C in part thanks to its market and fairs established as early as the middle ages. It benefits from its location, on the border of two regions of different agricultural production (livestock and animal by-products, cereal…). It was at this time that appear the big squares in the city, places of markets (the Pl de l’église with the relocation of the cemetery in 1830, place du Bouffay with the demolition of the halles in 1877…). The port contributes, in the second half of the 19C, with a regular exchange of wood and coal, especially with Wales. The arrival of the railway in 1912 ,however greatly reduce port activities. Travelers have that tray of passage as a solution to cross the Vilaine river, however, the reputation of La Roche Bernard is not always very good. In 1839, it inaugurated the first bridge on the Vilaine. The bridge is then replaced by a metal bridge  in 1912. The bridges have an effect on the urban landscape Rochois and the allure of the medieval village is shattered by a transverse axis , that of the current rue Crespel de Latouche.

La Roche-Bernard is occupied by the Nazi army from 1940 to 1945. From August 1944 to May 1945, it is part of the pocket of Saint-Nazaire which the boundary to the North was the Vilaine river. It was bombed by the Americans in August 1944. The bridge, undermined by the Nazis, blowups, struck by fire powder on August 15, 1944. The crossing of the Vilaine river is back traverse by boats. In 1960, a new bridge was inaugurated. Today, the crossing is also half a mile upstream, on the Pont du Morbihan, built in 1996.

A wonderful place to visit, we had our walks again there, and had lunch at the wonderful Le Yackam’s bar brasserie at 8 Quai St Antoine, just by the port or harbor area; plenty of free parking. This has become our home away from home when visiting La Roche Bernard in future years. This time we had  great tagliatelle st jacques with cafe gourmand and a bottle of 2013 Beaujolais nouveau!!! less than 22€ per person. Webpage:

If you have the time, we see them bits by bits as I live only about 52 minutes by car from it; these are the main attractions: The Pont de la Vilaine river, La Maison du Canon, Château de Basse-Fossées, La Quenelle, Le Lavoir, Chapelle Notre Dame, Church St Michel, Maison Bertho, les Garennes, la Maison Coligny, and do walk the rue de la saulnerie. The Maison du Miel is wonderful for the history of honey in the area.

The city of La Roche Bernard on its port history:

The tourist office of Damgan-La-Roche-Bernard on LRB:

There you go folks we are loaded with wonderful coastal town with a view of the sea, and La Roche Bernard is one good example of the joys of living and visiting here. Hope you can visit one day and will agree…See my other posts on the city with photos.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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