Archive for August 5th, 2021

August 5, 2021

Château de l’Hermine of Vannes!

Well, heck yes Vannes has its castles too, they are all over us !!! All beautiful and this one with enough history for a book but I will keep it short, promise. Again, I have mentioned it in bits in previous posts, but darn, do not know why not done a single post on it, very nice and cultural looking today.  Therefore, let me tell you a whole lot more on the Castle of the Hermine by the ramparts of Vannes!Oh yes that is Château de l’Hermine.


The Château de l’Hermine  (later Hôtel Lagorce but still call by locals Hermine ) at 12 Rue Alexandre le Pontois in Vannes, was a small castle built in the ramparts of Vannes . The castle was the main residence of the Dukes of Brittany between the end of the 14C and the 15C. Ruined and then dismantled in the 17C, it was replaced during the 18C by a special hotel, the Hôtel Lagorce which took the name of its owner. It is however commonly known as the Château de L’Hermine, the memory of the ancient fortress of the Dukes being well anchored in the memories of the local Vannetais.  The Château de l’Hermine was a defensive and residential building, intended by Duke Jean IV of Bretagne, who wished to benefit from a residence in a city which had been favorable to him during the War of Succession of Bretagne.


A bit (huh!) of history I like

The construction of this Castle of the Hermine (ermine) ranged between 1380 and 1385, the construction site continuing until the middle of the 15C. The services of the Hôtel du Duke found place in the farmyard such as the chamber of accounts, the workshop of the Mint, the House of the Oven, the game of Palm (tennis) as well as the ducal stables built in the years 1440. The construction of the Moulin des Lices, and the Chapel of the Lices  between 1420 and 1425, completes the ensemble.

King François I of France stayed at the castle for the vote of the States for the Union of the Duchy in 1532. The passage of the Duchy into the French mantle in 1532 left it without maintenance. Under king Louis XIII, the abandoned Castle threatened ruin and at the request of the bourgeois of Vannes ,king Louis XIV made a donation to the city in 1697. Under this donation, the city repaired its walls, rebuilt the bridge of St. Vincent, built the docks of Calmont, and provided some materials to the Hôtel-Dieu and the retreat house for men in 1750. The Lagorce purchase it in 1784, built a large hotel, and reputable restaurant under the Consulate , which he sold to Mr. Castelot  in 1802. This castle  restored and raised, was acquired in 1876, the stones of the Castle were used for the construction of the port of Vannes and the repairs of the buildings of which the city was responsible.

The current Castle of the Ermine dates from 1785 and has nothing to do with the medieval castle of the Hermine which resembled more to a fortress than to a leisure Castle. The remains of the Castle-two towers were completely destroyed in 1798. Acquired by the State in 1876 to install the Artillery School of the 11th Army Corps, the castle undergoes modifications. From 1926 to 1974, the Château de l’Hermine hosted the General Treasury of the Morbihan Department. In 1976, it became the property of the city of Vannes which assigned it to the School of Law of Morbihan and then to various associative and cultural activities including the Cultural Institute of Brittany. In recent years, the Law School has joined the University of Brittany campus and the City/Town Hall has arranged two large exhibition halls on the ground floor of the Castle. This I have attended several times.


A bit (huh?) of a description of the Château de l’Hermine

The fortress is an adjunct to large outbuildings where it creates a park, the terrain stretched from the Garenne to the pond or lake of the Duke (Duc).  It is a small castle for a Prince, which consists of a single body of dwelling and forces small towers and there are besides two big towers by the outside. In neoclassical style, the elongated built castle is built on a elevated terrain, the level of the basement on the garden being counteracted by a terrace. The elevation in the 19C altered the initial neoclassical structure of elevations. The Château de l’Hermine had as its dependence a farm yard, which extended to the Constable Tower (tour du Connetable); There were buildings to house the people of arms and the troops of the Duke, and stables to receive the horses. Next to it was the field of maneuvering, which kept up to the present day the meaningful name of Place of the Lices, and which was then more, wide than it is today. There was finally a miniature park, which stretched from the city to the pond or lake of the Duke.


Stories from the wonderful history of Vannes and the Château de l’Hermine.

The Castle was the scene of a considerable event of the reign of Duke Jean IV: the arrest of Olivier V de Clisson, a mighty Breton Lord and Constable of France, descended from the barons of Clisson and hero of the War of Succession of Bretagne. Companion of the Duke, he changed camp in 1369, joining the enemy party, that of the Duchess Jeanne de Penthièvre. In 1370 he bought the County of Porhoët, in 1380 he was appointed Constable of France, in 1484 he paid the ransom of the count of Penthièvre Jean de Blois and offered him his daughter in marriage, thus becoming the stepfather of a possible Duke of Brittany. Becoming a dangerous rival in the eyes of Duke Jean IV, he decided to eliminate him. The occasion was presented in 1387, following the States of Brittany held in Vannes. As he entered the Tower of the Dungeon, the armed soldiers of Jean IV seized him and was shackled on his feet. The Duke instructed Jean de Bazvalan, Captain of the Castle, to execute the prisoner. Alarmed, however, of the consequences of this execution and following the advice of the master of the Castle who had not followed the orders of his sovereign, he spared the Constable. The two men reconciled a few years later.  The Constables ‘ Tower,(see post)  which is in a courting of the first enclosure of the ramparts, and which has nothing to do with one of the towers of the Château de l’Hermine, would bear this name in memory of Olivier V de Clisson.


In 1455, Duke Pierre II and his wife, blessed Françoise d’Amboise, could not have any offspring. With the health problems of Pierre II arises the question of his succession. To prevent the throne of Brittany from falling into foreign hands, the Duke decided to marry his niece, Marguerite de Bretagne, daughter of his elder brother François I, to his cousin, François de Bretagne, Count of Etampes. To seal this Union, the Duke summoned the States of Brittany to Vannes, which met in 1455, in the upper room of the La Cohue (see post). Gather together the main Breton Lords, as well as the bishops, the Abbots and the representatives of the cities. They all endorse the marriage Union desired by Pierre II. Banquets and dances followed at the Château de l’Hermine!

It was at the Château de l’Hermine that Duke Jean V remained when he received at Vannes in 1418 Saint Vincent Ferrier and that he saw him preach in the place des Lices. This is where the pious Duchess Jeanne de France died in 1433. This is where the Dukes François I and Isabeau of Scotland, Pierre II and the Blessed Françoise D’Amboise often stayed.  In 1463, the nine Carmelite nuns from Liège, to found a house in Bondon, were taken to the Château de l’Hermine by Blessed Françoise d’Amboise and presented to the Duke. They were housed in the superior apartments of the Castle of the Ermine, and erected an oratory to sing their offices of the day and night. They came out to settle in the Bondon.  Under Duke François II, Chancellor Chauvin, pursued by the Dutch, was imprisoned at the Château de l’Hermine and died of misery in 1483.  Abandoned to the Captains where Governors of Vannes, to serve them as a dwelling, the Castle was visited in 1518 and 1532 by King François I.

The city of Vannes on the Château de l’Hermine in French:

There you go folks ,another nice monument and very much into the history of Bretagne/Brittany and France, another gem to see while walking around Vannes. The best way to see it is from outside the garden of Garenne on rue Alexandre le Pontois! Sublime!

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

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August 5, 2021

The lavoirs, washhouses of Vannes!

And as we are in my wonderful capital city of Vannes, where I work for 8.5 years; let me continue telling you of its gems from a medieval look ramparts comes the wash houses or lavoirs.  Let me update this wonderful post for you and me; hope you enjoy as I. Again, thanks for reading me since Nov 2010!! As mentioned in bits and pieces in my other posts on Vannes, I like to tell you a bit more on it in one post dedicated to them. Therefore, read the wash houses or lavoirs of Vannes!


The lavoirs or wash-room are located in the ramparts garden,(see post) immediately north of the rue Porte-Poterne and on the Garenne spur. It joins a bend of the Marle river, which provides the supply of water. Located below the ramparts and in front of the bastion of the Garenne b.1626-1628, the wash-houses are reflected in the Marle river. Under the slate-covered gallery, the washers took place on the stone slabs following the curvature of the river. This wash would date from the 15C to the 17C before the wave of construction of the 19C. Upstairs were the tanners.


In 1816, there were built at this location known as the bastion of the Garenne , a laundry room and a shed on pillars covered in straw with washcloths.   The buildings were later found in the hands of the Taslé family and their descendants who sold them to the city of Vannes in 1928.  The cadastral plan of 1844 of the city of Vannes presents at the back of the building a small square body containing perhaps a staircase. The ground floor of these two buildings is reserved for laundries fuelled by chimneys while the floors are used for dwellings. The restoration of the washhouses was carried out at the end of the last century. The resumption of the timber-framed structure, the replacement of its exterior joinery and the construction of a new building. The interiors were also restored. To allow a better distribution of the floor, an external corridor was created at the rear of the building. The entire building measures about 40 meters long, protected by a slate roof. The first building, rectangle of about 13 meters by 7 meters, is constructed of wood-beamed wooden panels.  Having them built on the edge of the Marle river and consisting of 2 buildings arranged in square and a gallery covered with a slate roof, resting on wooden poles that fit on half its length and curved way to follow the river , on the ground floor of the building directly overlooking the river. The body perpendicular to the river is constructed of granite rubble. The  façade of the building overlooking the Marle river is built in a wooden frame on a stone base. Chimneys in place on gutter water walls and gables walls.


Originally dated from the 17-18C, these wash-houses were actually built between 1797 and 1807. To cope with the affluence of the launderers, they are enlarged twenty years later, between 1827 and 1831 and were in private property, the building are acquired by the city of Vannes in 1928. The laundry in the dirty waters of the Marle river are forbidden by the city in 1951. The washing machines are then lowered onto other washhouses located upstream, close to the prefecture in open washhouses between 1923 and 1965, or at the lake of the Duc, until 1962. The grounds between the ramparts, the rue Porte-Poterne and the Garenne brook, including the wash-houses, are part of the garden of the ramparts and were, together with the Garenne’s wash-houses, damaged by a flood of the Marle river, they benefited from a complete restoration during the winter of 2005-2006.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit to the lavoirs are:

The city of Vannes on a pdf flyer about the washhouses or lavoirs

The Bretagne region tourist office on Vannes

Another enjoyable stroll in quant medieval Vannes, right off the ramparts and heading on the Porte Poterne along rue Porte Poterne into the old town and its laberynth of beautiful architecture, history, and shops/restos to please. Enjoy the wash houses or  lavoirs of Vannes.

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

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August 5, 2021

The Bretons of America from Gourin!

Ok this as said in previous post is only one hour from my house but this is our first time in town! So much to see in our beautiful Morbihan, lovely Brittany and belle France! We are working on it! This was something that I have heard about a fund raising to repair and build new a statue of Liberty to honor the Bretons from this town who had emigrated to North America. Well we finally came! And of course, this is an update of an older post; hope you enjoy it as I.

It was fantastic and recommended to all especially North Americans , that is USA and Canada. The history is interwined with those of these countries and Brittany, and I just even learned more of this fascinating friendship that has its roots and the immigration between these countries. Gourin is it!!


All is base at the Château de Tronjoly ( see post) that I have mentioned in my previous post. From city center next to the mayor’s office take the D1E road and right at the cemetery turn right into the chemin du roz to end. Here you arrive at another world.  Here you will see the history of immigration between Gourin, Morbihan, Brittany and Canada and especially the USA! All richly shown and arrange really beautiful a must to visit and we will be back!


There is a special show going on now. Ces Bretons d’Amérique or those Bretons of America. Château Tronjoly will also open its doors to painters Lena Le Caignec, Alix Naudot-Guillerm and Bryan Mitchell Theriot; photographers Frédéric Bourrigaud and Jean-Marc Arthot; the engraver Aurélien Besson; to the sculptor Christian Georget.


The exhibitions will be punctuated by lectures on Aboriginal art and a musical painting on the evening, August 11, 2019 during which the artist Alix Naudot-Guillerm will paint, accompanied by the music of the duo Fragance of love. As every year, the Brittany TransAmerica association will open the exhibition Ces Bretons d’Amérique .The official Bretagne en America webpage:


You will be able to see and read about lointime stories seldom heard nowdays such as one not yet known to me! On  February 14 1778 the cruiser Ranger led by Commodore John Paul Jones arrived in the Bay of Quiberon , it showcase the pride of the USA . The French squadron of admiral de la Motte Picquet (like a street in Paris…) born at Rennes (Ile et Vilaine dept 35) is at wharf in the protected harbor. All of a sudden all the guns from the French ship started firing its canons giving surprises to all those around the bay. This was the first salutation of a foreign country (France) to the birth from the 13 colonies to a new Nation (USA) .Yes very nice anecdote from the Castle of Tronjoly!


And known to me but seldom shown for obvious reasons here but love to see it here,such as our  Armand Tuffin , marquis de la Rouërie better know as Coronel Armand (see post) one of the most oustanding volunteers Bretons that fought in the American Independence war. Born at Fougéres, (Ile et Vilaine dept 35 now) ; he sailed from Nantes (loire-atlantique dept 44 now) when help and support was asked by Benjamin Franklin . His boat is sunk by three English naval vessels and he reaches American land swimming!   A few days later he was given a meeting with General George T Washington , head of the American army. Washington is impressed by this young Breton who spoked fluent English and gives him the rank of Coronel in charge of raising a force of adventurers, cavalry and food soldiers that became the legion of Armand or the 3rd Cavarly regiment ! He is considered as the founder of the US cavalry!   What the expo at the Castle of Tronjoly cannot tell you as politically incorrect is that he came back to France in 1791 created the Association Bretonne a group seeking independence from France (the base of the Chouans)  into the old duchy of Bretagne and conspired to toppled Napoléon Ier. He was caught found guilty and beheaded without trial, his body still has not been found. There is a statue of him in Fougéres at the Place des 12 Fusillées. Until now at Gourin!!!


This is the castle of Tronjoly from the city of Gourin:

The local pays du roi morvan tourist office on the castle of Tronjoly

More on the current activities of the Castle of Tronjoly. A lodging or Gîte d’Etapes on the road of Santiago de Compostela, and rural lodgings ;arranged in an old farm of the castle are also available. City of Gourin:

The city of Gourin, activities hall at the Château Tronjoly:

In all a wonderful property, very friendly folks and of course English spoken! Beautifully decorated and display for the enjoyment of all. Do dare to come to the west you will be surprise of the bounties of my lovely Bretagne! Truly enjoy the château de Tronjoly at Gourin , and its expositions.

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

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