Let me tell you about Pontivy, and its Castle!!!

Ok so now bringing you back to my area in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne ,and my belle France! This is up the alley from me and not only visited and several posts in my blog but one of my sons worked and lived here. Therefore, let me tell you about Pontivy, and its Castle!!!


And in my quest to showcase not only the best of France ,which is a lot, but my new region of Brittany, and especially my home department 56 of Morbihan , let me take you back to the north. Again, to remark, my Morbihan is the only department in France that is not a French word or meaning! It is completely Breton language, mor=sea bihan=small or small sea in French would be petite mer. Ok

I have come to Pontivy a few times and even one of my son had a job there for a while so we visit him as needed  as he stayed in an apartment there.  It is a nice town very much with the imperial family in fact for a while it was called Napoleonville!  However, as many things to see and written, the main thing here and indeed worth a detour is the Castle of Pontivy by the Blavet river.  The Château de Pontivy , called Château des Rohan, was built in the 15C and 16C by the family of Rohan.


An ancient feudal castle that belongs to the family of Porhoët, as mentioned in the 12C along the Blavet river, below the current castle. This Castle of the Halls was besieged in November 1342 by the English troops of William of Bohain, Lieutenant of King Edward III, during the war of Succession. Probably ruined by the assaults it had to support, the castle is abandoned. After this war of Succession, the Viscounts of Rohan decided to make Pontivy the chief place of their quasi-principality. In 1456, the site was given to the Cordeliers who built their monastery there. Viscount John II of Rohan (Count of Porhoët, son-in-law of Duke Francis I of Brittany, who opposed Duke Francis II and governor of Brittany for Charles VIII), wanted to build a new fortress through the drudgery regime (free labor). He built the present castle between 1479 and 1485 on a new site easterly which probably encompasses that of John I of Rohan, his great-grandfather: He made to dig a large trench on the flanks of a hill controlling the main access to the village, indented of the Blavet river, and which dominates the city to the east.


In 2014, following heavy rainfall due to the Petra storm, a part of the south curtain ramparts and tower collapses . While restoration continue and doing some preventive archaeology operations , it was reveal in particular two former furnaces in the courtyard; one the Great Oven which could match a bread oven while the small oven could have been used as a baking oven. The renovations continue..

The architecture that I like

The irregular quadrangular plane of about 90 meters by 75 meters of the castle, flanked by four circular corner towers connected by a 20 meters high curtain, remains traditional. The thickness of the walls reached in places more than 5 meters wide, in order to withstand the progress of the artillery and the firing of the cannons. The apparatus is shale up to the height of the Breton machicolations carved in granite. On the floor of the crenulated and covered round road were added at the beginning of the 16C of skylights with acute pediments. Access to the inner courtyard is through a sleeping bridge that replaced the two drawbridges thrown on the moats never filled with water. The counterscarp was levelled at the beginning of the 20C, the land thus recovered having served to bridge the gap.


Only two bodies of dwelling remain, west and north sides. The residential wing at the western façade is flanked by two large towers in machicolations, topped with peppers, of the four that probably included the enclosure. Several statues of Saints such as the Virgin to heavens, Saint Maurice on horseback, St. Catherine, Saint Germain, Sainte Marguerite, Saint Isidore, Saint Louis and Saint John the Baptist, originating in the Chapel of Saint-Laurent in Moustoir-Remungol , are displayed in this gallery. This Gallery the lordships residence in the north is reworked in the 18C. It is adorned with sedentary pediments and a double Louis XV style staircase and a wrought iron ramp. A niche under this staircase of honor houses the statue of Saint-Mériadec (favorite Saint of the Dukes of Rohan) which was carried out in the 3rd quarter of the 20C in the east, the original housing body was transformed into an artillery terrace in the 18C, then a pleasure garden. You can visit the Guard room, the rooms on the first floor overlooking the round road, the ducal room with the beautiful ceiling and the chapel. Especially notice the two stone chimneys in polychrome and armor, from the 16C, from the castle of Coët-Candec in Locmaria-Grand-Champ. (even closer to me).


A bit more on the history I like

The castle belongs to the family of Rohan who stayed there irregularly until the end of the 18C. Thereafter, the castle is successively occupied by: the sub-prefecture and the courtroom of the civil court of Pontivy (1800-1839); General Bernadotte, commander-in-chief of the Western Army (later appointed by Napoleon king of the Swedes and Norwegians!) (see post on native house museum in Pau) in charge of combating the Chouans (local farmers who fought against the French revolution for the king and region), installed his headquarters (May-June 1801); The Sisters of Kermaria, who created a school and a boarding schools for girls (1841-1884); A Breton museum founded by Jérôme Le Brigand in the late 19C; La Garde Saint-Ivy (sports Club of the city), the Scouts of France, some local families were housed in the west gallery, then severed in several rooms in the 1st half of the 20C with interruption in 1939-1940; During WWII, the Polish troops and then Autonomists Breton (June-September 1940). In 1953, Madame de Rohan rented it to the town of Pontivy by a lease of 99 years for a symbolic French Franc ,assuming all the charges of the owner. The town of Pontivy is then responsible for the maintenance, restoration and valorisation of the castle. In December 2014, in view of the particular context associated with the collapse of the courtship ramparts towers (due to Petra storm)  and the amount of restorations supported by the municipality would have to endure, Duke Josselin of Rohan agreed to cede his property to the city which became its owner on 16 October 2015. It still has some private rooms ,but most is open to the public.


Some webpages to help your plan your visit here which is worth the detour are:

The city of Pontivy on the castle: https://ville-pontivy.bzh/decouvrir/histoire-patrimoine/le-chateau-des-rohan/

The greater community of Pontivy on its heritage: https://en.tourisme-pontivycommunaute.com/Discover/Visit-Pontivy

And one more thing to know about my area ,and a lot more about France than on the travel books. Or rather, a bit more on Bretagne/Brittany or Breizh

The Rohan Castle is the place of the aborted declaration of independence of Brittany during the creation of the Breton National Committee by the members of the Breton National Party in July 1940. The Breton National Council, a representative body of the Bretons, concerned with the collective good and the honor of their people, would act at the time chosen by it to endow Brittany with a national state, in its natural setting and in the spirit of its tradition, in order that it could finally live in an organized nation, free of its aspirations and owner of its interests   and that the international status of the Breton state, the nature of its relations with France and Germany would be defined by agreements, freely discussed in the the possibilities offered by the new general Conditions. The Castle was the headquarters of Lu Brezhon, the embryo of the Breton National Army created by Breton nationalist Celestine Laine in the wake of the creation of the Breton National Committee in 1940. Voilà!

There you go folks, a huge historical place in my lovely Brittany, and I hope you enjoy this post as much as I. Brittany is full of history ,architecture, customs and thrills and of course the very good Breton cuisine. And a wonderful Rohan castle too!

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

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