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Rambles in Normandy 
Rambles in Brittany 
The Cathedrals and Churches of 
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The following, each 1 vol., library i2?no, 

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The Cathedrals of Northern 

The Cathedrals of Southern 



New England Building, Boston, Mass. 

1 Jr. 

Constable s Tower, Valines 

(See page 147) 




By Francis Miltoun 

With Many Illustrations 

By Blanche McManus 



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Published October, 1905 



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No promise given to the hostess of one's inn 
is alleged as an excuse for writing this book, 
but it is true that rosy, busy Madame X of 
the Soleil d'Or, in the fishing village in which 
the work received its final collation and revi- 
sion, watched its growth for many a week, daily 
declaring her hope of some day receiving a 
volume containing " your impressions. " And, 
indeed, her hope shall not be vain, for one of 
the first copies shall be most speedily des- 
patched to her. Moreover, the author and ar- 
tist hope that it may be acceptable to her crit- 
ical mind, for she is not likely to be lenient, 
though she knows full well that to the many 
authors and artists who make a refuge of her 
modest inn for months she owes her livelihood. 

The book is a record of many journeys and 
many rambles by road and rail around the 
coast, and in no sense is it put forth either 
as a special or as a complete survey of things 
and matters Breton. 



vi Rambles in Brittany- 

Many lights and shadows have been thrown 
upon the screen from various points, but the 
effort has been made to blend them all into a 
pleasing whole, which shall supplement the 
guide-books of convention. 

It were not possible to do more than has been 
attempted within the limits of a volume such 
as this, and therefore many details of routes, 
and historical data of a relative sort, and a 
certain amount of topographical information 
have been scattered through the volume or 
placed in the appendix, in the belief that such 
information is greatly needed in a work at- 
tempting to purvey " travel talk," even in 
small measure. 

Some of this knowledge is so little subject 
to change that it may well stand for all time, 
and, in these days of well-nigh universal travel, 
may be not thought out of place in a volume 
intended both for the armchair traveller and 
also for him who journeys by road and rail. 
That only a very limited quantity of such infor- 
mation can be included is a misfortune, inas- 
much as such a handbook is often used when 
no other aid is accessible to the traveller. 

Finally, the illustrative material, the large 
number of drawings of sights and scenes, of 
great architectural monuments, and of the 

Apologia vii 

dress of the people, is offered less as a complete 
pictorial survey than as a panorama of impres- 
sions received on and off the beaten track, — 
and more satisfying and truthful than the mere 
snap-shots of hurried travel. 

In addition, many maps, plans, and diagrams 
should give many of the itineraries a lucidity 
often lacking in the usual railway maps. 





I. Introductory ..... 

II. The Province and the People . 

III. The Topography of the Province 

IV. Travel Routes in Brittany 

V. The Breton Tongue and Legend 

VI. Manners and Customs . 

VII. The Fisheries .... 


I. The Loire in Brittany 
II. Nantes to Vannes . 

III. The Morbihan — Vannes and the " Golfe " 



V. Morbihan — Lorient and Its Neighbour- 
hood .... 
VI. Finistere — South. 
VII. Finistere — North. 
VIII. The Cotes du Nord 
IX. The Emerald Coast 









X. On the Road in Brittany — Mayenne, 

Fougeres, Laval, and Vitre . . . 309 

XL Rennes and Beyond 329 

XII. Religious Festivals and Pardons . . 341 

Appendices 359 

Index . 373 



Constable's Tower, Vannes (See page lJfl) Frontispiece 

The Loire at Nantes .... facing 4 

Device of Anne of Brittany 17 

Anne of Brittany 18 

Breton Post -card 21 

St. Brieuc facing 30 

Croisic facing 42 

Map of Brittany ..... facing 44 

The Main Roads of Brittany .... 48 

Travel Routes in Brittany 55 

St. Pol de Le"on facing 60 

The Breton Tongue 62 

Gilles de Laval 66 

Young Bretons 78 

From the Artist's Sketch Book .... 80 

La Coiffe Polka 81 

Ironing Coifs 83 

Breton Types 85 

Douarnenez facing 88 

Pornic 113 

Donjon of Clisson facing 114 

St. Nazaire 123 

Ancient Fortifications of Gue'rande (Diagram) 126 

Chateaubriant ...... facing 128 

Children of Redon 133 

Tour d'Elven facing 138 



List of Illustrations 


Market-woman, Vannes 142 

The Country near Vannes 143 

Ancient City Walls, Vannes (Diagram) . . 147 

Chateau of Suscino facing 148 

General Plan of Chateau of Suscino (Diagram) 149 

Ploermel facing 152 

Shrine of St. Etienne, Josselin .... 154 

Chateau de Josselin .... facing 156 

Interior of Market - house, Auray . facing 160 

Shrine of St. Roch, Auray 162 

The Lines of Carnac 168 

The Lines of Carnac .... facing 168 

Map of Carnac and the Surrounding Country . 170 

Quiberon facing 172 

Hennebont • facing 182 

Quimperle facing 188 

Market - house, Faouet .... facing 192 

Market - day 193 

Rosporden ......••• 196 

Stone Crucifix, Concarneau . . . facing 198 


Pont Aven facing 202 

Environs of Pont Aven (Map) .... 204 

From the Museum at Quimper .... 207 

Cape de la Chevre facing 214 

Woman of Chateaulin 217 

Camaret facing 220 

Landerneau facing 224 

Calvary, Plougastel .... facing 228 

Lighthouse of Creac'h, Ouessant . . facing 236 

Roscoff 239 

Ma Douez 244 

Carved Wood Staircase, Morlaix . . facing 246 

Procession of Sailors, St. Jean du Doigt . . 247 

List of Illustrations xiii 


Old House, Treguier ...... 253 

House of Ernest Renan, Treguier . . . 254 

Shrine of St. Yves, Treguier 256 

A Binou Player 261 

Binic 267 

Ramparts of St. Malo .... facing 272 

House of Duguay -Trouin, St. Malo . . . 281 

Tower of Solidor, St. Servan . . facing 284 

Plans of the Tower of Solidor .... 285 

The Valley of the Rance (Map) .... 292 

Duguesclin 293 

Rez -de -Chausse'e of Donjon, Dinan (Diagram) . 295 

Coif of Miniac 307 

Mayenne facing 310 

Plan of the Ancient Walls and Towers of 

Fougeres 314 

Beucheresse Gate, Laval 319 

Plan of Vitre in 1811, Showing City Walls . 321 

Chateau de Vitre facing 322 

Tower of St. Martin, Vitre" 323 

Chateau de Rochers 325 

Arms of Madame de Sevigne 327 

Monastery of St. Melaine, Rennes . . . 331 

Huelgoat facing 340 

Pardon of St. Jean du Doigt . . . facing 352 

The Provinces of France (Map) .... 359 

The Ancient Provinces of France (Map) . . 361 

Comparative Metric Scale (Diagram) . . . 364 

Sketch Map of Circular Tour in Brittany . 366 
Architectural Names of the Various Parts of 

a Feudal Chateau (Diagram) .... 367 
Tide and Weather Signals in the Ports of 

Brittany (Diagram) 368 





The regard which every one has for the old 
French provinces is by no mean inexplicable. 
Out of them grew the present solidarity of 
republican France, but in spite of it the old 
limits of demarcation arc not yet expunged. 
One and all retain to-day their individual char- 
acteristics, manners, and customs, and also a 
certain subconscious atmosphere. 

Many are the casual travellers who know 
Normandy and Brittany, at least know them 
by name and perhaps something more, but 
how many of those who annually skim across 
France, in summer to Switzerland and in win- 
ter to the Riviera or to Italy, there to live in 

Rambles in Brittany 

seven-franc-a-day pensions, and drink a par- 
ticularly vile brand of tea, know where Brit- 
tany leaves off and Normandy begins, or have 
more than the vaguest of vague notions as to 
whether the charming little provincial capital 
of Nantes, on the Loire, is in Brittany or in 
Poitou. A recollection of their school-day 
knowledge of history will help them on the 
latter point, but geography will come in and 
puzzle them still more. 

There are many French writers, and paint- 
ers for that matter, who have made these prov- 
inces famous. Napoleon, perhaps, set the fash- 
ion, when he wrote, in 1786, that eulogy begin- 
ning: "It is now six or seven years since I 
left my native country.' ' More familiar is the 
' ' Native Land ' ' of Lamartine. Camille Flam- 
marion wrote " My Cradle," meaning Cham- 
pagne; Dumas wrote of Villers-Cotterets, and 
Chateaubriand and Benan of Brittany; but 
head and shoulders above them all stand out 
Frederic Mistral and his fellows of the Felibres 
at Avignon and Aries. 

All this offers a well-nigh irresistible fasci- 
nation for those who love literary and historic 
shrines, — and who does not in these days of 
universal travel, personally conducted or other- 
wise! Not every one can follow i& the foot- 


steps of Sterne with equal facility and grace, 
or bask in the radiance of a Stevenson or a 
Gautier. Still, it is given to most of us who 
know the lay of the land to discover for our- 
selves the position of these celebrated shrines, 
whether the pilgrimage be historical, literary, 
or artistic. 

This is what gives a charm to travel, and 
even where no new thing is actually discovered, 
no new pathways broken, there is, after all, a 
certain zest in such an exploration rivalling 
that to be obtained from an expedition to the 
uttermost confines of the Dark Continent, to 
Tibet, or to Tierra del Fuego. 

Primarily, the ancient provinces of France 
have a story of historical and romantic purport 
not equalled in the chronicles of any other na- 
tion. The distinctive types are but vaguely 
limned, but the Norman and the Breton stand 
out most distinctly, and such figures as the 
Norman and Breton dukes of real history live 
even more vividly in one's mind than D'Ar- 
tagnan and his fellows in the great portrait- 
gallery of Dumas. 

One need not be of the antiquary species in 
order to revel in the great monuments of his- 
tory abounding in Brittany even as in Nor- 
mandy. There are many and beautiful shrines 

6 Rambles in Brittany 

elsewhere, — and doubtless some are more pop- 
ularly famous than any in Brittany, — but none 
have played greater or more important roles 
in the history and development of the France 
of to-day than those of the two northwestern 

As has been said, each of the great provinces 
into which France was divided previous to the 
Eevolution possessed characteristics, unmistak- 
able even to-day. As to the topography of 
any single one, the question is so vast in its 
detail that more than mention of principal fea- 
tures can hardly be made in a book such as 
this. It is then perhaps enough that some 
slight information concerning Brittany and its 
principal places should be recorded here, and 
that the chief configurations of its territory 
should be outlined. 

In addition to the principal old-time govern- 
ments, there were the ancient fiefs and local 
divisions, and these in many cases had names 
often encountered in history and literature. 
Sometimes these were relics of the still earlier 
day, of Gaul before the Roman conquest, their 
ancient names having come down through the 
ages with but little change. 

If one would understand the economic or 
agricultural aspect of France of to-day, he 


must known these principal provinces by name 
at least. 

When one is at Chartres, he must be aware 
that he is on the edge of the great plateau of 
Beauce, — the granary of France, — and that 
as he crosses into Brittany — perhaps through 
Perche, whence come the great-footed Perche- 
rons — he enters the country of the ancient 
Veneti. Farther west lies rock-bound Cornou- 
aille, which in every characteristic resembles 
Cornwall in Britain; Leon on the north, and 
finally Penthievre. 

The traveller remakes his history where he 
finds it. If he have a good memory, this is 
not a difficult process, but, in any case, the 
French guide-books, that is to say, those writ- 
ten in French, not the English or Anglo-Ger- 
man variety, are sufficiently explicit as to dates 
and events to set him on the right track. 

The armchair traveller usually desires some- 
thing more. He likes his plain stories gar- 
nished with a not too elaborate series of embel- 
lishment, both as to text and illustration, giv- 
ing him some tangible reminder of things as 
they are in this enlightened twentieth century, 
when tram-cars have taken the place of the dili- 
gence, and the electric light has supplanted the 
tallow dip, and one may well say with Sterne: 

8 Rambles in Brittany 

" Since France is so near to England, why not 
go to France? " 

Here, in spots all but unknown even in Nor- 
mandy and Brittany, the traveller finds for 
himself monuments of a civilization gone be- 
fore and of a local history not yet completely 
erased, and as interesting as those of any land 
made famous by antiquaries whose only claim 
to fame rests upon their questionable ability 
in propounding new theories, of which the chief 
merit is plausibility, — a process of history- 
making sadly overdone of late in some parts. 

Both in Brittany and in Normandy there are 
innumerable glorious architectural monuments 
of a past from which history may be builded 
anew. Character counts for a great deal with 
cities as with individuals. One can love Rouen 
as the capital of the ancient Normandy, or 
Nantes as the capital of Lower Brittany, but 
he will no more have the same sort of affection 
for Lyons or for Nice than he will have it for 
Manchester or for Chicago. 

In the days of old, when each little town had 
its dignitaries, who may have been counts or 
who may have been bishops, there was perhaps 
more individuality than in the present age of 
monotonous prefects and mayors. Nantes had 
its dukes, and Rouen had its prelates, and both 


of them, even to-day, overshadow the civic dig- 
nitaries of their time ; hence it is the memory 
of the parts played by them which induces an 
association of ideas prompting a desire to know 
personally the ground trodden by them. 

Normandy and Brittany are supposed to be 
the happy hunting-grounds of cheap tourists 
and trippers, but, as a matter of fact, the 
former do not go beyond Dieppe, or the latter 
beyond the Channel Islands, — with possibly a 
day excursion to St. Malo, — so no discomfort 
need really arise from the fear of their pres- 
ence. Furthermore, the tourists from across 
Channel that one does meet in Normandy or 
Brittany to-day are not so outrageous in their 
dress and manners as the type pictured by 

It is a generally recognized fact that no spe- 
cial hardship is involved in modern travel; 
caravansaries have for the most part given 
way to inns which, if not exactly palatial, at 
least furnish creature comforts of a quality 
quite as good or a great deal better than those 
to which most travellers are accustomed at 
home. One may, and most likely will, miss 
his or her particular brand of tea or tobacco, 
but will find substitutes quite as excellent, and 
as far as the language question is concerned, 


Rambles in Brittany 

why, that lies at one's own door, unless one 
wants to go out as a disciple of Esperanto, the 
modern successor of Volapuk, dead years ago 
of sheer weight of consonants. 

This book, then, is meant to ensure better 
knowledge on the part of the casual traveller 
of that delectable land which may be somewhat 
vaguely described as old France, of which Brit- 
tany and Normandy are as representative in 
their survivals as any other part. 



Brittany, the ancient province which under- 
went snch a strife of warfare and bloodshed in 
the struggle against invaders, and finally 
against France, has become one of the most 
loyal of all the old-time divisions making up the 
present republic. Her struggle against a cur- 
tailment of her ancient rights and the attempts 
to conserve her liberties were futile, and when 
the Duchess Anne took Louis XII. for her sec- 
ond husband, Brittany became a part of the 
royal domain never to be separated therefrom. 

It was Duguesclin who saved it for France, 
"Duchess Anne who enriched it, Chateaubriand, 
Lamennais, Laennec, and Renan who made it 
illustrious in letters, and Duguay Trouin, 
Jacques Cartier, Surcouf, Du Oouedic, and 
many besides who added to all this the spirit 
of adventure and romance with which the 
chronicles of Brittany have ever abounded. 

Commonly it has been called a land of gran- 
ite, an expression which has been consecrated 


12 Rambles in Brittany 

by the usage of many years, but it is also a 
land most picturesque, melancholy, and dreamy, 
with immense horizons of sea and sky, and a 
climate strictly temperate throughout all the 

" O landes, O forets, pierres sombres et hautes, 
Bois qui couvrez nos champs, mers qui battez nos cotes, 
Villages oil les morts errent avec les ventes, 
Bretagne ! d'oii te vient l'amour de tes enfants." 

Brittany in early days had a parliament the 
most important in France. Armorica was its 
more ancient name, which in old Breton sig- 
nified " near to the sea," or " on the sea." 

From the beginning of the fifth century, for 
a matter of perhaps a hundred years, the pen- 
insula was known as Armorique, and its peo- 
ple as Armoricans. After this time the name 
disappeared from general use, and Brittany 
and Breton came. From the sixth century 
onward the change became permanent, and such 
chroniclers as Gregory of Tours, for instance, 
always referred to Britannia, Britannioe, Bri- 
tanni, and Britones, in writing of the peninsula 
and its people. 

When first peopled from Britain across the 
Channel, Brittany was the most thinly popu- 
lated part of all Gaul. Each wave of immigra- 
tion, as the Britons from across the water fled 

The Province and the People 13 

from the invading Saxons, added to the popu- 
lation of the land, until ultimately it became as 
a hundred Britons against ten Armoricans. 
At least, this is the way the French historians 
and antiquaries put it, and so Armorique be- 
came Brittany, and such is the origin of French 
Brittany, quite independent of the etymology 
of the word Breton itself. 

The inhabitants even to-day — more than in 
any other of the ancient provinces of France 
— have preserved the ancient nomenclature of 
the land and its people, and everywhere one 
finds only Bretons whose home is Brittany. 

Mercator, the map-maker, was more of a suc- 
cess than Mercator, the historical chronicler. 
He said of the Bretons, in 1595, that they were 
" for the most part avaricious and largely 
given to making distinctions between glasses 
and tumblers.' ' As a matter of record, this is 
not so true of the Bretons as it is of the Nor- 
mans, or of the Germans, or of the Spaniards. 
Up to the time of Caesar the name Armorica 
seems to have been applied to all the coast of 
Northwestern France of to-day, with a little 
strip running as far south as the mouth of the 
Garonne, but more particularly it afterward 
designated the peninsula of Brittany as we 
know it to-day. 

14 Rambles in Brittany 

The region was early put under the guar- 
dianship of a chieftain, who invariably, here 
as elsewhere in those days, took advantage of 
every opportunity to advance his frontiers. 

This attempted aggrandizement was not so 
successful here as in other parts, and by the 
fifth century Armorica had shrunk to the 
region lying entirely between the Seine and the 
Loire. In the life of St. Germain of Auxerre 
one reads : 

" Gens inter geminos notissima clauditur amnes 
Armoricana prius veteri cognomine dicta est." 

Finally, at the close of the sixth century, Ar- 
morica merged itself in Brittany, but the " Con- 
cile de Tours " makes a remarkable distinction 
between the new settlers and those who had 
previously been known as Romans. This dis- 
tinction was also clearly made by St. Samson, 
who wrote in the seventh century that Britannia 
was the name given to Armorica by the exiled 
Britons who had fled from the Saxons and the 
Angles and had there taken up their home. 

Before the Roman conquest there were live 
tribes in the country, named by Caesar as the 
Nannetes, the Veneti, the Osismii, the Curio- 
solitae, and the Rhedones, — names which, with 
but slight evolution, exist even to-day. Things 
went on quietly under Roman control, but when 

The Province and the People 15 

Clovis became the master of a part of Gaul 
he was obliged to treat with the Armoricans. 
Finally the Britons from across the sea came 
" like a torrent," and established themselves, 
changing the names of certain regions to Cor- 
nouaille, Leon, Bro-Waroch, etc. Conquered in 
799 by a lieutenant of Charlemagne, the Bre- 
tons revolted again some little time after, and, 
at the death of the great emperor, successfully 
withstood the attacks of the formidable army 
which Louis the Amiable had sent against them. 
For a quarter of a century Brittany now suf- 
fered attack and pillage by the Normans, re- 
lieved only when Alain Barbe-Torte drove the 
invaders from his territory. Previous to the 
Norman inroad, the Bretons lived in petty 
tribes, of which each formed a " plou," a pre- 
fix still often met with in Breton place-names. 
The chief of a plou was known as a machtiem. 

Up to this time no foreign customs had been 
introduced, but, after the victories of Alain 
Barbe-Torte, tribal organization was succeeded 
by that of the fief. 

By the tenth century feudalism was thor- 
oughly established throughout most of the an- 
cient provinces of France, and the land was 
covered with seigniories, great and small, the 
one more or less dependent upon the other. 

16 Rambles in Brittany 

Dukes, counts, and seigneurs, each in his own 
territory, played the hereditary sovereign in 
little, and above them was the suzerain power 
of which they were vassals. 

After the expulsion of the Normans, the an- 
cient Breton kingdoms of Domnonee, Cornou- 
aille, and Bro-Waroch disappeared, and the 
sovereign of all Brittany bore the title of 

Historians write of the nine ancient barons 
of Brittany, among whom was divided the gov- 
ernmental control of the country, all of them 
being virtually subject to the reigning duke. 
They were: 

I. Seigneur d'Avaugour or De Goello. 

II. Vicomte de Leon. 

III. Seigneur de Fougeres. 

IV. Sire de Vitre. 

V. Sire de Eohan. 

VI. Seigneur de Chateaubriand. 

VII. Seigneur de Betz. 

VIII. Seigneur de la Boche-Bernard. 

IX. Seigneur du Pont. 

These original baronies expanded into a 
round hundred by the fifteenth century, and 
the list of them contains the ancestral names 
of the Breton nobility. 

Henry II. of England dealt severely with 

The Province and the People 17 

Brittany, but his son Geoffrey married Con- 
stance, the daughter of Duke Conan IV., and 
this made the condition of the province more 

The first step toward the union of Brittany 
with the kingdom of France came when — 
through the intrigues of Philip Augustus — the 
daughter of Geoffrey Plantagenet married 
Pierre Mauclerc, Count of Dreux, and a prince 

Device of Annr of Brittany 

of the blood royal of France. Joan of Pen- 
thievre also married the Count of Blois, an- 
other lieutenant of the King of France. 

The war of succession in Brittany between 
the ducal houses of Blois and Montfort was, up 
to the fourteenth century, the principal event 
of the province's early history. The Montforts 
achieved final victory at Auray in 1364. Upon 
the death of Francis II., his daughter Anne, 
the chief figure in all Breton history, so far as 


Rambles in Brittany 

existing memorials of her life are concerned, 
became duchess. 

In 1491, she married Charles VIII. of France, 
and eight years later his successor, Louis XII. 
The daughter of this last marriage, the Prin- 

cess Claude of 
France, married the 
Duke of Angouleme, 
afterward Francis the 
First, and the for- 
tunes of Brittany and 
France were thence- 
forth indissolubly al- 
lied, for, upon becom- 
ing Queen Claude of 
France, the inheritor 
of Brittany ceded the 
province to her royal 
spouse and his de- 
scendants in perpetu- 
ity. Queen Claude died in 1524, which event 
for ever assured France of this province, — the 
most beautiful gem in the royal crown. The 
union of Brittany and France was celebrated 
with much pomp in 1532. 

The ancient county or duchy of Bretagne 
was bordered on the east by Anjou and Maine, 
on the west by the Atlantic, on the north by 

Anne of Brittany 

The Province and the People 19 

the British Channel and Normandy, and on the 
south by Poitou. The province had two terri- 
torial divisions, Upper and Lower, and Rennes 
was the parliamentary capital. 

Upper Brittany comprised the five episcopal 
dioceses of Dol, Nantes, Rennes, Saint-Brieuc, 
and St. Malo, and Lower Brittany counted four 
similar divisions, Quimper, St. Pol de Leon, 
Treguier, and Vannes. Thus the political di- 
visions of a former day corresponded exactly 
with those of the Church. 

To-day Brittany is divided into five depart- 
ments: Cotes du Nord, Finistere, Ille-et- Vi- 
la ine, Loire-Inferieure, and the Morbihan. 

The administrative government of Brittany, 
or rather of its present-day departments, like 
that of the rest of France, radiates from the 
capital of the department, which is the resi- 
dence of the prefect, the tax-collector, the 
bishop, and, in general, of all heads of depart- 
ments. The chief town is also the seat of the 
General Council and (with few exceptions) of 
the assize court. 

The most ancient codified law of Brittany 
was known as the little book, but the manu- 
script copy has been lost. The most ancient 
work which recites the " customs " of this 
great province dates only from 1 3?>0. This curi- 

20 Rambles in Brittany 

ous document is known as the " Very Ancient 
Law," and contains 336 articles. " The An- 
cient Law " was compiled and published at 
Nantes in 1549, and contains 779 articles. 

Brittany has been, and perhaps ever will be, 
considered by Frenchmen an alien land, where, 
in its great plains and mountainous regions, 
in the valleys of its bubbling rivers, and on 
its rock-bound shores, the people, one and all, 
" speak a tongue so ancient and so strange 
that he who hears it dreams of a vanished 

Yes, Brittany is a land of menhirs, of leg- 
ends and superstitions, but all this but makes 
a roundabout journey the more enjoyable, and 
one must really cross and recross it to its utter- 
most confines in order to realize its great vari- 
ation of manners and customs, to say nothing 
of speech, for, even though the Breton tongue 
is dying out as a universal language, one still 
buys his post-card with a queer legend on its 
face, which looks like Dutch at first glance, but 
really is Breton. 

In Madame de Sevigne's time the ladies of 
Lower Brittany were famous for their beauty. 
In " Letter XLIV.," written to her daughter, 
Madame de Sevigne said: " Many beauties of 
Lower Brittany were present at the great ball, 

The Province and the People 21 

the brilliant Mademoiselle de L , a fine girl 

who dances very well." 

Things do not seem to have changed greatly 
to-day, and, although Madame de Sevigne wrote 
of court beauties only, in the Lower Province 
one frequently meets such beauty of face as 
one does not see everywhere in France. It 
must be owned that the figures, if not exactly 

Unvaniez Post ar Bed Holl 


5Jn to- niCL a jo rruret and £uv 4uircss 


Breton Post-card 

found wanting, are often too ample. The 
sternness of the land, like the bleakness of 
Holland, has, apparently, added no end of 
grace to the features of the women, whatever 
may have been its hardening effect upon the 

In Cornouaille, Latin Comu-GallicB, one finds 
almost the same name and the same deri- 

22 Rambles in Brittany 

vation as in English Cornwall, and the topo- 
graphical aspect is much the same in both in- 
stances. " The people of Cornuaille are 
faithful to tradition, and above all others merit 
the name of Bretons/' says J. Guillon. 

The Province of Leon forms the northern 
part of the Department of Finistere. The name 
was a development from Pagus Legionensis, a 
large military colony having been quartered 
there in Roman times. 

In the south the ancient Breton Province of 
Bro-Waroch became the county of Vannes, the 
counts being in reality dependents of the Duke 
of Brittany; their people spoke, and retain 
even to-day, a distinct dialect, greatly varying 
from that of the rest of Brittany. 

In the earliest times, both Nantes and 
Rennes were the seat of important adminis- 
trative governments, but the Counts of Nantes 
ceded their fiefs to the Bretons in the eleventh 
century. Chief of these were the fiefs of the 
Baron of Retz, the Seigneur de Clisson, who 
defended the southern frontier against Poitou, 
and the Baron of Ancenis, who was the bul- 
wark between Brittany and Anjou. 

In the north, the ancient Breton kingdom of 
Domnonee was, in the twelfth century, divided 

The Province and the People 23 

into two counties, that of Penthievre and Tre- 

It was Duke Geoffrey who introduced feudal- 
ism of the Anglo-Norman and French variety. 
In earlier times, when a nobleman died, his 
children divided his lands and goods in equal 
parts among them, but in Normandy and 
France the estate went to the eldest of the line. 

It was only in the twelfth century that the 
Bretons went outside their own domain. Pre- 
viously, they were decidedly an untravelled 
race, but under Philip the Fair Paris came 
to know Breton well, though chiefly through 
the poorer classes. 

They went to the schools and seminaries of 
Orleans to become clerics; sold their cattle 
and horses in the markets of Paris, and their 
wheat in Maine and Anjou, and their feudal 
lords, it is perhaps needless to say, bought 
their dress in the capital of fashion, and their 
wines in Gascony. From this time, Brittany 
may be said to have been opened to the world. 

Not always were the Bretons a peaceful, 
law-abiding race, at least they did not always 
appear in such a light to their contemporaries. 
According to Bouchart, Duke Francis II. re- 
ceived a letter wherein his brother-in-law, the 
Count of Foix, said: " Monseigneur, I declare 

24 Rambles in Brittany 

to God, I would rather be the ruler of a million 
of wild boars than of such a people as are your 
Bretons.' ' 

In 1460, Francis II. founded the University 
of Nantes, thus doing away with the necessity 
of the young Breton's going to Paris, Orleans, 
or Angers for his education. 

Printing was discovered in Germany, and all 
in good time it appeared in Brittany, at Lan- 
nion, and at Treguier. There were establish- 
ments devoted to the art even before they ex- 
isted in such important places as Lyons or 
Montpellier. One of the first books printed in 
Brittany was a French-Breton dictionary, pub- 
lished in 1499, and known as the Catholicon of 
Jean Lagadeuc. 

By this time, a remarkable form of govern- 
ment, unique in all the world, was established 
in Brittany. In some respects it was modelled 
on the English Parliament, but in no way re- 
sembled that of the French legislative body. 

The Estates met each year at Eennes, at 
Vannes, at Nantes, at Eedon, at Vitre, or at 
Dinan, and at last, under Francis II., Parlia- 
ment came to be a fixture at Rennes. 

Even after the union of Brittany with France, 
the ancient rights, privileges, and liberties were 
assured to the old province until the Revolu- 

The Province and the People 25 

tion. These sittings of the Estates at Bennes 
were sumptuous affairs, accompanied by a 
round of feasting and dancing at which ap- 
peared all the aristocracy who could. 

Madame de Sevigne wrote to her daughter 
of one of the grand affairs as follows: 

" The good cheer is excessive; the roasts 
are brought on entire, and the pyramids of 
fruit are so huge as to make it necessary to 
take down the doors for their entrance. . . . 
After dinner, MM. de Locmaria and Coetlegon 
danced with two Breton girls, taking some 
amazing steps. . . . Play is continuous, balls 
endless, and thrice a week there are come- 

The relations between the nobility and peas- 
antry in seventeenth-century Brittany were 
perhaps closer and more affectionate than in 
any other part of France. The noblemen fre- 
quently visited the peasants on their farms, 
and on Sunday the peasants danced in the 
courts of the castles and manor-houses. 

" Virtually, under the old system, Brittany 
was peopled by rural nobility," says Cambry, 
and indeed this must have been so, for within 
a small radius of Plougasnou were more than 
two hundred noblemen's houses, " so poor," 
says the chronicler, " that their inhabitants 

26 Rambles in Brittany 

might well be classed with the labourers them- 

Brittany's part in the Bevolution was equiv- 
ocal. The Republicans really had beaten the 
Royalists, but they had also aided the Giron- 
dins, and at Paris the Girondins were as much 
hated as the Royalists themselves. The Con- 
vention sent its representatives into the prov- 
ince, not to thank the Bretons for their help 
in the great struggle, but with the idea of still 
further arousing the passions of the people. 

Among these representatives were Geurmer, 
Prieur de la Marne, Jean-Bon-St.-Andre, and 
the rascally and heartless Carrier, who drowned 
his hundreds at Nantes, and guillotined twenty- 
six Bretons in one day at Brest. 

The Breton feeling and sympathy was in the 
main with the Republicans, though manifestly 
the majority had no sympathy with the rule 
of the Terrorists. It is curious to note, how- 
ever, the change in the nomenclature of places 
in the endeavour to eliminate the religious and 
aristocratic prefixes and suffixes with which 
many of the Breton place-names were endowed. 

St. Cast became Havre-Cast. 

St. Fiacre became Fiacre-les-Bois. 

St. Gildas became Gildas du Chaneau. 

St. Gilles-les-Bois became Bellevue. 

The Province and the People 27 

St. Jacut-de-la-Mer became Isle Jacut and 
Port Jacut. 

Chateaulin became Cite sur Aon. 

Pont l'Abbe became Pont Marat. 

Quimper became Montagne sur Odet. 

St. Martin des Champs became Unite des 

St. Pol de Leon became Port Pol. 

Belle He en Mer became He de 1 'Unite. 

Chateau Fouquet became Maison-des-Sans- 

Isle aux Moins became Isle du Morbihan. 

Roche-Bernard became La Roche Sauveur. 

Rochefort en Terre became Roche des Trois. 

St. Gildas de Rhuis became Abelard. 

St. Briac became Port Briac. 

St. Lunaire became Port Lunaire. 

St. Malo became Port Malo. 

St. Servan became Port Solidor. 

With the incoming of the Empire, most of 
these names reverted to their early form. 

In our day, while many of the old provinces 
of France have suffered — if they really do 
' ' suffer ' ' — from a decreasing population, 
Brittany has augmented her numbers contin- 
ually. It is a well-worn saying among the polit- 
ical economists of France that the " fine and 
healthv race of Bretons is one of the greatest 

28 Rambles in Brittany 

reserves and hopes of the republic." Three- 
quarters of all those who man French ships 
come from the Breton peninsula. 

Hamerton has said that no race, more than 
the English, had so strong a tendency to form 
attachments for places outside their native 
land. There may be many reasons for this, 
and assuredly the subject is too vast and varied 
to be more than hinted at here. Brittany, at 
any rate, has proved, in and out of season, a 
haven, as safe as a home-port, for the Briton 
and his family, when they would not wander too 
far. Possibly it comes after Switzerland, though 
France as a whole, " the most architectural 
country in Europe," has been sadly neglected, 
for, as has been said before, no Englishman 
ever loved France as Browning loved Italy. 

The native love of the Frenchman for the 
land of his birth is, to him, above all else. It 
is almost incomprehensible to an outsider; it 
is something more than mere patriotism; it is 
the love of an artist for his picture, as Balzac 
said of his love of Touraine. This sentiment 
goes deep. After the province comes the im- 
mediate environment of his village, and then 
the village. " Rien n'est plus beau que mon 
village, en verite je vous le dis." Thus has 
written and spoken many a great Frenchman. 

The Province and the People 29 

Nowhere in the known world is provincial- 
ism so deep and profound a trait as in France; 
and the Breton is always a Breton, contemptu- 
ous of the Norman, God-fearing, and peaceful 
toward all. There is throughout France always 
an intense provincial rivalry, though it seldom 
rises to hatred or even to jealousy. 

Probably there is no great amount of truth 
in the following quatrain, evidently composed 
by a resident of Finistere, and there first heard 
by the writer of this book, but it reflects those 
little rivalries and ambitions which have ap- 
peared in the daily life-struggle among the in- 
habitants of other nations since the world 
began : 

" Voleur comme im Leonard, 
Traitre comme un Tr£garrais, 
Sot comme un Vannetais, 
Brutal comme un Cornouaillais." 

Sometimes the love of one's own country 
may be carried to an extreme. We read that 
for long years, and until recently, the inhab- 
itants of Trelaze positively refused to assimi- 
late with outside conditions of life to the least 
degree, and finding a Breton of this little zone 
or islet who spoke French was as improbable 
as to find one who spoke English. At St. Brieuc 
there is a special quarter where the Breton- 

30 Rambles in Brittany 

speaking folk live to the number of two thou- 
sand, and this out of a population of only 
twenty-two thousand, while at Nantes the Bre- 
tons number ten thousand. At Angers there is 
a large and apparently growing Breton colony ; 
likewise at Havre, in Normandy, where they 
have a special chapel in which the priest 
preaches in the Breton tongue. At Paris, too, 
there are various Breton colonies, and the 
Church of St. Paul and St. Louis, in St. An- 
thony's Street, has a Breton priest. It is the 
same with the church of Vaugirard. At Havre 
there are something over three thousand Bre- 
ton-speaking persons, and in Paris seven thou- 

Perhaps Brittany has produced fewer great 
painters and sculptors than any other section 
of France, but all Bretons are artists in no very 
small way, as witness their wonderfully pic- 
turesque dress and their charmingly stage- 
managed fetes and ceremonies. 

The pioneer painter of Breton subjects was 
doubtless Adolph Leleux, who, as one of the 
romantic school in Paris, found in this province 
what many another of his contemporaries was 
seeking for elsewhere, and discovered Brittany, 
as far as making it a popular artists ' sketching- 
ground is concerned. His first paintings of 

67. Brieuc 

The Province and the People 31 

this region were exhibited in the Salons of 
1838 - 39 - 40, and Paris raved over them. His 
peasant folk, with their embroidered waist- 
coats and broad-brimmed hats, had the very 
atmosphere of Brittany. 

Leleux's success was the signal for a throng 
of artists to follow in his footsteps, and to-day 
their number is countless, and the very names 
of even the most famous would form too long 
a list to catalogue here. 

Among Leleux's most celebrated canvases 
were ' ' La Karolle, Danse Bretonne, ' ' 1843 ; 
" Les Faneuses," 1846; " Le Ketour du 
Marche," 1847; " Cour de Cabaret," 1857; 
" Jour de Fete en Basse Bretagne," 1865; and 
successively the ' ' Foire Bretonne, " " Les Bra- 
conniers," " Le Pecheur de Homards," " Pe- 
lerinage Breton,' ' and " Le Cri du Chouan." 

In all these works one finds the true Brittany 
of Rosporjien and Penmarc'h. 

Fortin's " Canute de Mendicant dans le Fi- 
nistere " (1857), " La Benedicite, ' J and " La 
Chaumiere du Morbihan M follow Leleux as a 
good second, then Trayers with " Marche Bre- 
ton " and " Marchande de Crepes a Quim- 

Among other noted pictures are Darjours's 
" Palaudiers du Bourg de Batz " and the 

32 Rambles in Brittany 

" Fagotiers Bretons "; Guerard's " Jour de 
Fete " and " Messe du Matin, Ille-et-Vilaine "; 
Fischer's " Chemin du Pardon " and " Au- 
berge a Scaer," and Roussin's " Famille Bre- 
tonne. ' ' 

Gustave Brion, with his " Bretons a la Porte 
d'une Eglise "; Yan Dargent, with his " Sauve- 
tage a Guisseny," and Jules Noel, with his 
1 ' Danse Bretonne, ' ' and various landscapes of 
Brest, Quimper, Auray, and Douarnenez, are 
on the list of names of those who made the 
Breton region famous in the mid-nineteenth 

Since then, the followers in their footsteps 
have been almost too many to number. 

Most folk call to mind with very slight appre- 
ciable effort such masterpieces as Jules Bre- 
ton's " Retraite aux Flambeaux " and " Plan- 
tation d'un Calvaire," now in the museum at 
Lille, and Charles Cottet's " Bateaux de 
Peche a Camaret " in the Luxembourg gallery. 

In addition, there have been innumerable 
" great pictures " painted by English and 
American artists whose very names form too 
long a list to catalogue here. 



One reason for the diversified interests of 
France and the varying methods of life is 
the vastly diversified topographical features. 
" Great plains as large as three Irelands," said 
Hamerton, " and yet mountainous districts 
quite as large as the whole of the British Isles.' ' 
This should have served to disabuse British 
travellers of some false notions regarding 
France, but many of them still hold to the views 
which are to be gained by railway journeys 
across the lowlands of Gaul, forgetting for a 
moment that well within the confines of France 
there are fifty mountain peaks above eleven 
thousand feet high, and that majestic Mont 
Blanc itself rises on French soil. 

Then there are the two thousand miles of 
seacoast which introduce another element of 
the population, from the dark-skinned sailor 
of the Mediterranean to his brother of Finis- 
tere, who is brought into the world chiefly to 


34 Rambles in Brittany 

recruit the French navy. The Norman sailor- 
man is a hardy, intrepid navigator even to-day, 
but he is to a great extent of the longshore 
and fishing-boat variety, whereas the true Bre- 
ton is a sailor through and through. 

Before now, Brittany has been compared, dis- 
paragingly, with Provence, and with some just- 
ness perhaps. Provence, however, does not 
persistently broil under a " fierce, dry heat," 
and Brittany is not by any means ' ' a wind and 
wave swept land, where nothing nourishes it- 
self or grows fat." Potatoes are even fatten- 
ing, and Brittany, in all conscience, grows 
enough of that useful commodity to feed all 
France. In three things Brittany and Provence 
more than a little resemble one another. Both 
preserve, to a very remarkable extent, their 
ancient language and their old-time manners 
and customs, though in all three they are quite 
different one from the other. 

The general topographical aspect of the coast 
of the whole Breton peninsula is stern and wild, 
whether one encounters the dreary waste of 
sand, in the midst of which sit Mont St. Michel 
and Tombelaine, or the cliffs away to the west- 
ward, or the bleak and barren Belle He en 
Mer, where Fouquet built his famous strong- 

Topography of the Province 35 

On the " Emerald Coast " the sea and sky 
are often of a true Neapolitan clearness, and, 
indeed, the climate of the whole peninsula is, 
even in winter, as mild as many a popularly 
fashionable Mediterranean resort ; but it is not 
always so bright and sunny; there is a deal of 
rain in winter, and often a penetrating damp- 
ness, whose only brother is the genuine Scotch 

Still, in all but four months of the year, there 
is a brilliancy and softness about the climate 
of the coast of Brittany which encourages vio- 
lets, roses, onions, and potatoes to come to 
maturity at so early a date that the Londoner 
has ceased to raise the question as to whether 
or not they may be " best English," when he 
sees these products laid out of an early morn- 
ing in his beloved Covent Garden. 

To know a country or its people at its best, 
one should really take one of its great men for 
a guide. Hear then what Chateaubriand says 
of ' ' La Terre Bretonne ' ' : 

" This long peninsula, of a wild and savage 
aspect, has much of singularity about it: its 
narrow valleys, its non-navigable rivers bath- 
ing the feet of its ruined castle-keeps and cha- 
teaux, its old abbeys, its thatch-covered houses, 
and its cattle herded together in its arid pas- 


Eambles in Brittany 

tures. One valley is separated from another 
by forests of oak, with holly bushes as large 
as beech-trees, and druidical stones around 
which sea-birds are for ever circling. 

" Of an imagination lively, but nevertheless 
melancholic, of a humour as flexible as their 
character is obstinate, the Bretons are distin- 
guished for their piety, and none the less for 
their bravery, their fidelity, their spirit of in- 
dependence, and their patriotism. Proud and 
susceptible, but without ambition and little 
suited to the affairs of court or state, they care 
nothing for honours or for rank." 

The picture is not very vivid, but it is won- 
derfully true, and of this one meets continual 
evidence in a journey around the coast, from 
the Bay of St. Michel in the north to Belle He 
or Nantes in the south. 

No part of France has a physiognomy more 
original than Bretagne ; none has been marked 
by nature in a more emphatic manner than this 
ancient home of the Celts. 

"... la terre du granit 
Et de l'immense et morne lande." 

It is indeed a land of contrasts, where an- 
cient, mystical, and weird menhirs and dolmens, 
relics of prehistoric times, are mingled with 

Topography of the Province 37 

mediaeval monuments and modern forts, arse- 
nals, and viaducts. 

The country is by no means unlovely, but 
it partakes of none of the conventional beauties 
of other parts. It is not sterile, though it is 
stern; it is not very fertile, but its product is 
ample ; and it stands as the most westerly point 
of the mainland of Northern Europe, open to 
all the wild bufferings of the tempestuous At- 
lantic which has sculptured its coast-line into 
such fantastic forms that a shipwrecked mari- 
ner must think himself fallen upon the most 
stern and rock-bound of coasts. 

The general aspect of Brittany is green and 
gray. It is, as the Breton himself says, an aus- 
tere heath, — the country-side half-effaced in 
demi-tints, and the sea boisterous and wicked. 

This, however, is only one of its moods; to- 
morrow it may be as brilliantly sunlit as the 
Bay of Naples, and may have a sea and sky 
of gold and turquoise. But this mood passes 
quickly, and again it settles down to a misty 
softness and mildness of climate that has given 
its name to one of the five great climatic divi- 
sions of France, the Armorican. 

The sunsets of Brittany are always glorious. 
Nowhere on the rim of great ocean's mirror 
are there more splendid and grandly scenic 

38 Rambles in Brittany 

effects to be observed. An exceedingly realistic 
Frenchman once described a sunset in the Bay 
of Douarnenez as a " bloody apotheosis," the 
real aspect of which is readily inferred. 
Of this Breton Cornouaille, Beranger sang: 

" Faisons honte aux hirondelles. 
Tu croiras, sur nos essieux, 
Que la terre a pris des ailes 
Pour passer devaut les yeux." 

The country inland is as original as the coast, 
and both the peasant on shore and the sailor 
on the sea are Breton to the core. Never has 
Brittany been called charming or gracious, 
never lovely or sweet, but always cold, though 
not so in climate, which is always terrible and 

But, for all that, it is delightful, and when 
one has tired of the stupid gaieties of Switzer- 
land or the Ehine, let him rough it a bit among 
the low hills and valleys of the Cotes du Nord, 
or the rocky promontories and inlets of Finis- 
tere, or, on the south coast between Quimper 
and Nantes, on one of those little tidal rivers 
such as the Aven, and let him learn for himself 
that there is something new under the sun, even 
on well-trodden ground. 

Truth to tell, Brittany is not nearly so well 
known to English-speaking folk as it should be. 

Topography of the Province 39 

There is a fringe of semi-invalid, semi-society 
loiterers centred around St. Malo, and enli- 
vened in the summer months by the advent of 
a little world of literary and artistic folk from 
Paris. Then there is an artist colony or two 
in Lower Brittany, where the visitors work 
hard, dress uncouthly, and live cheaply for 
four or five months of the year. At Nantes 
there is the overflow of tourists of convention 
from the chateaux district of Touraine, and 
up and down the length and breadth of Brit- 
tany, from Mont St. Michel to St. Nazaire, and 
from Dol to Brest, are to be found occasional 
wanderers on bicycles or in motor-cars. 

The great mass, however, is herded around 
the conventionally " gay " five o'clock resorts 
of Dinard, Parame, and St. Malo, and in by 
far the greater area of the province the seeker 
for pleasure and true edification is far more 
rare than is popularly supposed. The occa- 
sional rather wretched hotel has hitherto kept 
the fastidious away, and the terrific hobnails 
of the Breton wooden shoe have all but driven 
travellers in motor-cars and bicycle riders to 
despair. Both these deterrents, real and fan- 
cied, are disappearing, however. The hygienic 
bedrooms of the Touring Club are found here 
and there, and the peasants, or, at least, some 

40 Rambles in Brittany 

of them, now wear a sort of cast-iron sole ap- 
parently clamped or riveted to the wooden 
shoe ; at least there are no big, pointed, mush- 
room-headed tacks to drop out, point upper- 
most, in dry weather. 

The topographical aspect of Brittany is 
largely due to the two great zones of granite 
formation which come together at their western 
extremities, — the mountains of Alengon and 
the jutting rocks that come to the surface from 
Poitou northward. 

In general, the whole aspect of Brittany 
echoes the words of Brizeaux, the Lorient poet : 

" O terre de granit, recouverte de chenes." 

One would hardly call Brittany mountainous, 
but its elevations are notable, nevertheless, in 
that they rise, for the most part, abruptly from 
the dead level of the ocean. Inland, the topog- 
raphy takes on more of the nature of a rolling 
moorland, with granite cropping out here and 
there in the elevations. The following quatrain 
describes it exactly: 


" O ma chere Bretagne, 

Que j'aime tes halliers, 

Tes verdoyants graniers, 

Et ta noire montagne." 

— Corbinais. 

Topography of the Province 41 

The greatest altitudes in Brittany are: The 
Sillon de Bretagne (near Savenay), eighty-nine 
metres; La Motte (Montagnes Noires between 
Quimper and Brest), 289 metres; Menez Horn 
(Montagnes Noires), 330 metres; Mont St. 
Michel (Montagne d'Arree), 391 metres. 

The Breton rivers are not great rivers as 
the waterways of the world go, although they 
are important indeed to the country which they 
irrigate. Chief among them are the Vilaine, 
navigable to Rennes, the Ranee, the Odet, the 
Aulne, and of course the Loire, which flanks 
the southern boundary of the old province 
nearly up to its juncture with the Mayenne, and 
continues its navigable length in Brittany up 
to, and a trifle beyond, the town of the same 
name. The Couesnon, flowing northward into 
the vast Bay of Mont St. Michel, forms the 
northeastern boundary separating Brittany 
from Normandy. 

The great length of irregular coast-line ac- 
counts for the continuation of the generally 
severe and stern aspect of the interior, the 
sombre granite cliffs jutting far out into the 
open, half-enclosing great bays and forming 
promontories and headlands which are char- 
acteristically Breton and nothing else. They 
might resemble those of the Greek mainland 

42 Rambles in Brittany 

and archipelago were they but environed with 
the life and languor of the South, but, as it is, 
they are Breton through and through, and their 
people have all their hopes and sympathies 
wrapped up in the occupations of a colder clime. 

The old territorial limits of the Province of 
Brittany embraced a small tract south of the 
Loire, known as Le Rais, or the Betz country. 

Here is Clisson, the feudal castle and estate 
so constantly recurring in French history. 
Pornic, Paimbceuf, and the Lac de Grande Lieu 
also lie southward of the Loire in this old ap- 
panage, but, in the main, Breton history was 
played on the Armorican peninsula north of 
the Loire. 

The height of the tides on the Breton coast 
varies considerably. All this is caused by 
the flow of the North Sea and the Straits 
of Calais meeting the current coming directly 
from the Atlantic, so that in some instances the 
flood-tide rises to a height of from fifty to sixty 
feet above ' ' dead water, ' ' as the French call it. 

The immense Bay of Mont St. Michel, at low 
water, is a stretch of bare sand more than three 
hundred square kilometres in extent, but it is 
completely covered and converted into a great 
tranquil gulf by the rising tide. 

At Croisic, at the mouth of the Loire, there 


Topography of the Province 43 

is a 5.16 metre rise of the tide, which around 
the Breton coast-line varies as follows: 

Port Navalo, Morbihan .... 4.72 

Lorient 4.60 

Concarneau 4.68 

Douarnenez . . . . . . 6.16 

Brest 6.42 

Ouessant 6.38 

Roscoff 8.22 

lie Brehat 9.90 

St. Malo 11.44 

lies Chausey 11.74 

Mont St. Michel 12.30 

The aspect of the region round about Dol, 
in the north, is that of a little Holland, with 
its flats and windmills and its cultivated ground 
protected from the sea by a rim of downs and 
dikes. It is not so very great an expanse that 
follows these outlines, but the likeness is one 
to be remarked. To the westward lie the jut- 
ting rocks and capes, beyond which are the 
isolated islands of Ouessant and its fellows, 
and all around the coast extend landlocked 
bays and harbours sheltering the great fishing 
ports of Douarnenez and Concarneau and the 
commercial ports of St. Malo, Morlaix, Brest, 
Lorient, and Vannes. 

From a military and strategic point of view 
the whole northwest coast of France, from the 

44 Rambles in Brittany 

mouth of the Loire through Brittany and Nor- 
mandy, is exceedingly well protected, with a 
great port and base of supplies both at Brest 
in Brittany and at Cherbourg in Normandy. 

Forts Minden, Ville Martin, and Penthievre, 
Port Louis, Lorient, and Brest, and the Forts 
du Pilier, Le Palais, Lacroix, Cezon, and Cha- 
teau du Taureau, with St. Malo and Fort des 
Rimains, protect the whole Breton seashore in 
practically unassailable fashion, though there 
are still the sea fights at Ouessant, in 1778 and 
1794, and The Hogue in 1692, to say nothing 
of the land engagements at Quiberon in 1795, 
to remember. 



Tourists are commonly supposed to belong 
to the pleasure-seeking or invalid class, and 
so they mostly do, still one may travel for 
instruction (which is pleasure, also) and be 
mindful of the conditions of life around him, 
and profit accordingly, unless he absolutely de- 
mands the life of the boulevards of Paris or 
the homoeopathic excitements of the little horses 
in some popular watering-place. 

It is undoubtedly true that most tourists are 
of limited interests, which may be pleasure, or 
art, or architecture, or worshipping at his- 
torical shrines. All this is well enough in its 
way, but if one could combine a modicum of 
each he would profit much more largely, to say 
nothing of being amused and instructed, too. 

The time has long since passed when travel- 
lers reviled Brittany as a province where 
" husbandry was no further advanced than 
among the Hurons," as a writer of the eight- 


46 Rambles in Brittany 

eenth century said within twenty-four hours 
after he had crossed the boundary between 
Normandy and Brittany, at Pontorson, where 
the causeway road branches off to Mont St. 
Michel. Evidences of husbandry are still very 
much to the fore, but it is more advanced in 
the interior, at least; on the coast the harvest 
of the sea takes its place. 

Brittany, in husbandry^ may not be so ad- 
vanced as some other parts. There are no such 
elaborate operations going on here as in the 
regions where high farming is practised — in 
Beauce, or Normandy, or Anjou. Neither are 
such numbers of mechanical farming-tools in 
operation, but in spite of all this there is a 
very considerable and prosperous industry 
born of the soil of which most strangers to 
Brittany, and some who have travelled there, 
are entirely ignorant. All along the great high- 
ways crossing and recrossing Brittany one sees 
the little roadside farms with their attendant 
small flocks of live stock, sheep, cattle, geese, 
ducks, and fowls, which point, at any rate, to 
the fact that the peasant need not be as ill- 
nourished as he is generally supposed to be; 
and really he is not. 

The charm of journeying by road in France 
is indescribable, perhaps, to its fullest degree. 

Travel Routes in Brittany 47 

Natural beauties count for much, but in a land 
peopled with historic castles, churches, and ab- 
beys, as Normandy and Brittany are, it is 
found doubly enjoyable even though one pro- 
fesses no expert architectural knowledge, or no 
profound aptitude for historical research. 
These, however, are but side-lights, which make 
the actual pilgrimage among such shrines 
greatly to be cherished among one's personal 

It is the whole which pleases, and not frag- 
mentary and piecemeal beauties and charms; 
and never was this more true than of a well- 
beloved land, be it one's own or an alien shore. 

Brittany and its travel routes, whether by 
road or rail, offer as full a measure of all these 
attractions as it is possible for one to con- 

The great highways of Brittany have not the 
same favour with travellers by road as those 
of other parts of France. They are equally 
important and equally well cared for by a 
paternal government, but their inclines are 
steeper — sometimes suicidal — and certainly 
more frequent than elsewhere in France, and 
distances stretch out interminably. 

The great national road which stretches from 
Paris to Brest covers a distance nearly equal to 


Rambles in Brittany 

Travel Routes in Brittany 49 

that from Paris to Turin, or from Paris to 

There are, however, in Brittany no long 
stretches of unrolled road surface, and for the 
most part the roadways are as smooth as can 
anywhere be found. Were it not for the eter- 
nal switchbacks, and the aforementioned hob- 
nail, with its pointed end usually upmost, Brit- 
tany would be a far more popular touring- 
ground for the automobile than it is. The 
hooded cart of Normandy and Brittany, such 
as one meets going to and from the market- 
towns, is another real dread to the man in the 

It is not that the occupant is unwilling to 
hear one's horn, but it is almost impossible 
that he should against a head-wind, until you 
are close upon him. It is useless to point to 
your ear as you whisk by and ask him — in a 
shout — if he is deaf, or to say: " Well, now, 
you sleep well." He will pay little or no at- 
tention to you, and anyway, most likely, he 
was not asleep, as are so many of his fellows 
that one meets on English roads. 

In Brittany the traveller by road often meets 
an obstruction in the shape of a flock of sheep 
slowly making its way toward one, or in the 
opposite direction, or even a flock of ducks or 

50 Rambles in Brittany 

geese, which are even more dreadful. Sheep 
are stupid, hens and chickens are silly, but 
geese are arrogant and obstinate. 

It is very disconcerting, of course, for the 
motor-car driver at full speed to have to draw 
in his ten, or twenty, or thirty horses in order 
to avoid decapitating a whole goose and gos- 
ling family, but it lends a charm to the travel, 
which a badly paved stretch of roadway — in 
Picardy, for instance — wholly lacks. 

Here when one does actually run into a flock 
of geese, such as one sees on the high-coloured 
posters advertising a certain make of car, and 
in the comic journals, it is one of the real 
humours of life. The amount of curiosity an 
old goose or gander can show in a death-deal- 
ing motor-car as it rushes by, and the chances 
they take of sudden death, are enough to give 
an ordinarily careful driver innumerable heart- 

This is about all the trouble one is likely to 
meet on Breton roads, except, of course, the 
always present grazing cows, which here, 
though they are always attended, — generally 
by a small boy or girl, who often is not able 
to keep them in line as one would wish, — are 
allowed to stray freely, and are not tethered 
as they are throughout Normandy. 

Travel Routes in Brittany 51 

It is not for the aforesaid reasons alone that 
motor-cars are scarce in Brittany, for, after 
all, they form but minor troubles as compared 
with the eccentricities of the machinery itself, 
and the tourist in a motor-car is usually pre- 
pared for most things which are likely to 
happen to him en route. So really if one likes 
a hilly country — and it is not without its 
charms — Brittany offers much in the way of 
varied and natural beauties that certain other 
provinces lack. Touraine, for instance, de- 
lightful as it is as a touring-ground, is as pro- 
verbially flat as a billiard-table. 

There are, in the first place, not nearly so 
many motor-cars owned in Brittany, and ac- 
cordingly there are astonishingly few shelters 
and repairers. Apparently, the Breton does 
not care for the new-fangled means of loco- 
motion, not recognizing, perhaps, that it has 
come to stay. Still less does the Breton peas- 
ant's brother, the Breton sailor or fisherman, 
care for the motor-boat, which ought to have 
a great vogue in such great inland seas as 
Morbihan, the Bay of Douarnenez, or the 
Goulet or the roadstead of Brest, 

The sailor of Brest or Lorient find the little 
fishing villages of the west will tell you : "I 

52 Rambles i n Brittany 

like my boat better, with my sail and my arms 
for motors.' ' 

Often these great stretches of Breton road- 
way show an aspect of human nature that is 
probably the same the world over; a peasant 
man or woman is leading a cow, — always on 
the wrong side of the road, of course, — or a 
sleepy farm-hand is drawing his cart to or 
from market, — still on the wrong side of the 
road, — when the whirr and snort of a motor- 
car does something more than awaken echoes. 

The cows entangle themselves in their lead- 
ing ropes, and the usually placid horses bolt 
with the cart into the ditch. The native, of 
course, reviles the car and its occupants, not 
because he hates them, — for they are one of 
the mainstays of the inns of the countryside, — 
but merely to display that untamable spirit of 
independence, which every mother's son of a 
French peasant has developed to a high de- 

In Brittany, as in most other lands, — in sum- 
mer, — the traveller by road gathers in a fine 
crop of wingy, stingy things, which project 
themselves into one's eyes with a formidable 
force when one goes at them with a swift-mov- 
ing car. 

Occasionally one thinks he has come upon a 

Travel Routes in Brittany 53 

vast convention of them, so many are they in 
numbers and variety — flies, wasps, bees, and 
what not, with a peculiar Gallic species of fly 
so infinitesimal that one only stops to clear 
them out when he feels that his eyes are so 
full of them that they may be uncomfortably 
crowded. The real or fabled Jersey mosquito 
would go out of business with his Breton 
brother as a competitor. Truly this is a new 
terror, and one that certainly was not appar- 
ent, to anything like the present extent, before 
the advent of the motor-car. 

One comes upon a dull week in Brittany 
often, even in summer, when the sky remains 
overcast, and great clouds roll up from out of 
the western ocean. Often it is not cold, but 
it is bitterly damp and sticky, even though it 
does not rain, but the native does not seem to 
mind it, at least, he never complains. 

The only objector ever met with by the writer 
was a Gascon who kept a pharmacy at Quim- 
per. He discussed it as follows: "Hideous 
country! The wind blows here every day in 
the year, and the rest of the time it rains," he 
continued, enigmatically. " Yes, that abom- 
inable wind always plays the same trick on 
me! What a country! " He was probably 
thinking of his own bright and sunny home 

54 Rambles in Brittany 

in the South, where seldom, if ever, are con- 
ditions other than brilliantly tranquil. 

There are three great highroads which cross 
Brittany from east to west, the main road of 
Brittany from Alengon in Normandy, through 
Mayenne, Fougeres, Dol, Dinan, Guingamp, and 
Morlaix to Brest; the southern road from 
Paris via Le Mans, or even following the Loire 
valley down from Orleans to Nantes, and thence 
westward via Vannes, Lorient, and Quimper to 
Brest, thus making the complete circuit of the 
Breton coast. A midway course lies in almost 
a direct line east and west through Laval, Vitre, 
Kennes, Ploermel, Pontivy, and Carhaix. 

These three highroads cover completely the 
itinerary of Brittany, in so far as they follow 
the north and south coast and the country-side 
lying between. 

Cross country, from the Bay of Mont St. 
Michel to the mouth of the Loire, one " route 
nationale " lies directly through Eennes, and 
another ends at Vannes, in Morbihan. 

These cover practically all the regular lines 
of traffic, and include all the chief points of 
historical and topographical instances. 

Distances of themselves are not great in 
Brittany. From St. Malo to Nantes is but 180 
kilometres; from Laval to Brest but 337 kilo- 

Travel Routes in Brittany 


56 Rambles in Brittany 

metres; and from Nantes to Brest is but 324 

In these days of motor-cars and even bicy- 
cles, these distances are not great, and so long 
as they are not taken at a rush, — which for- 
bids enjoyment, — they form no drawback to 
the pleasures of travel by road in Brittany. 
One has only to add two or three hundred kilo- 
metres more, in order to reach the starting- 
points of Nantes, Laval, or St. Malo from 
Paris. Then the tour may seem a lengthy one ; 
but even this is nothing to find fault with; the 
intermediate country is in itself delightful, 
whether one journeys down through the Or- 
leanais, Touraine, and Anjou, or westward 
through the heart of Normandy. 

The railways in Brittany, except on some of 
the cross-country routes, are developed to a 
high stage of efficiency. The great express 
lines of the Western Railroad to St. Malo and 
to Brest run due west from Paris, straight 
almost as the crow flies. Again, one may make 
his entry via Nantes and the Loire valley 
through Touraine and Anjou by the Orleans 
line, and have the satisfaction of setting out 
from Paris by the world's finest and most mod- 
ern railway station, that wonderfully convenient 
and artistic structure on the Quay of Orsay. 

Travel Routes in Brittany 57 

Rennes is the great railway centre of Brit- 
tany, and accordingly all roads lead to Rennes. 
Here one may make up his itinerary at a 
price which will include nearly every place 
west of that point for a matter of frcs. 65 
for first-class, and frcs. 50, second-class, and 
if he tell the clerk of the booking-office at 
his point of departure for Rennes that he in- 
tends doing this (and agrees with the formali- 
ties) he will get a discount of forty per cent, 
on the price of first or second class tickets up 
to that point. A plan of this itinerary and 
further particulars are given in the appendix. 

Third-class railway travel in Brittany ought 
to form one of the long-remembered experi- 
ences of one's visit to that province. 

There is much amusement to be got out of 
a journey across Brittany from St. Malo to 
Nantes, with mob-capped peasant-folk and blue- 
bloused and picturesque farmers, all laden 
with huge baskets and bundles, and an occa- 
sional live fowl, or perhaps a rabbit, or even 
a guinea-pig, though one must not believe that 
Frenchmen eat guinea-pigs. The writer, at 
least, never saw one being eaten, though what 
use they are really put to is an open question. 

Occasionally there will be a want of elbow- 
room in a third-class carriage, but this is no 

58 Rambles in Britta ny 

great inconvenience, as the Breton mostly 
travels short distances only, and at the next 
station one may be left alone with only a 
drowsy Breton sailor — off on a furlough from 
a man-of-war — to keep him company, with his 
red-knobbed tam-o'-shanter rakishly over one 

Often a foreigner will throw himself into 
one 's compartment, — an American or an Eng- 
lish artist, with his sketching paraphernalia, 
white umbrella and all, — for artist-folk are 
mostly of the genus who travel third-class. 
Good-naturedly enough, if his journey be a long 
one, he will tell you much of the country round 
about, for your artist is one who knows the 
byways as well as the highways — and per- 
haps a little better. By this procedure, one 
stands a chance of gathering information as 
well as being edified and amused. 



The speech of Brittany, like its legend and 
folk-lore, has ever been a prolific subject with 
many writers of many opinions. 

The comparison of the speech of the Welsh- 
man with that of the Breton has often been 
made, but by no one so successfully as by Henri 
Martin, the historian, who, in writing of his 
travels in Wales, told how he had chatted with 
the Celtic population there and made himself 
thoroughly understood through his knowledge 
of Breton speech. 

In its earliest phases, the Breton tongue had 
a literature of its own, at least a spoken litera- 
ture, coming from the mouths of its bards and 
popular poets. In our own day, too, Brittany 
has its own songs and verses, which, though 
many of them have not known the medium of 
printer's ink, have come down from past gen- 

The three ancient Armorican kingdoms or 



Rambles in Brittany- 

states, Domnonee, Cornouaille, and the Bro- 
Waroch, had their own distinct dialects. 

There is and was a considerable variation in 
the speech throughout Brittany, though it is 
and was all Breton. The dialects of Vannes, 
Quimper, and Treguier are the least known 
outside their own immediate neighbourhood; 
the Leonais of St. Pol de Leon is the regular 
and common tongue of all Bas Bretons. 

The old-time limits of the Breton tongue are 
wavering to-day, and from time to time have 
drawn appreciably toward the west, so that 
the boundary-line, which once ran from the 
mouth of the Loire to Mont St. Michel, now 
starts at the mouth of the Vilaine, and finishes 
at a point on the northern coast, a little to the 
westward of St. Brieuc. 

It was during the decadence of the Breton 
tongue — known to philologists as the third 
period — that the monk Abelard cried out: 
" The Breton tongue makes me blush with 
shame. ' ' 

The nearer one comes to Finistere, the less 
liable he is to meet the French tongue unadul- 
terated. The numbers knowing the Breton 
tongue alone more than equal those who know 
French and Breton, leaving those who know 
French alone vastly in the minority. The fig- 

The Breton Tongue and Legend 61 

ures seem astonishing to one who does not 
know the country, but they are unassailable, 

Here in this department at least, and to a 
lesser degree in the Cotes du Nord and the Mor- 
bihan provinces, one is likely enough to hear 
lisped out, as if it were the effort of an Eng- 
lishman: " Je na sais pas ce que vous elites," 
or " Je n'entend rien." No great hardship or 
inconvenience is inflicted upon one by all this, 
but now and again one wishes he were a Welsh- 
man, for the only foreigners who can under- 
stand the lingo are Taffy's fellow country- 

Breton legend is as weird and varied as that 
of any land. It is astonishingly convincing, 
too, from the story of King Grollo and his 
wicked daughter, who came from the Britain 
across the seas, the Bluebeard legend, the Ar- 
thurian legend, which Bretons claim as their 
own, as do Britons, to those less incredible tales 
of the Corsairs of St. Malo and the exploits of 
Duguesclin and Surcouf. 

There is a quaint Breton saying referring 
to little worries, which runs thus: " When the 
wind blows up from the sea, I turn my barrel 
to the north; when it blows down from the 
hills, I turn my barrel to the south.' ' " And 


Rambles in Brittany 

The Breton Tongue and Legend 63 

when it blows all four ways at once 1 ' ' " Why, 
then I crawl under the barrel." 

This is exactly the Breton's attitude toward 
life to-day, but he finds a deal of consolation 
in his legends and songs of the past, and in 
his ruffled moments they serve to put him in 
a good humour again. This is something more 
than mere superstition, it is a philosophical 
turn of mind, and that is good for a man. The 
heroes of legend are frequently those of his- 
tory. One may cite Joan of Arc with relation 
to old France, and Duguesclin in Brittany. 
There is a difference, of course, and it is wide, 
but the comparison will serve, as there is no 
other character in all the history of Brittany — 
unless it be that of Duguay-Trouin, the Corsair 
of St. Malo — who stands out so distinctly in 
the popular mind as does Duguesclin, ' ' the real 

There is none in his own country, however 
illiterate he may be, and the Breton peasant, 
in some parts, is notoriously illiterate, who 
knows not this hero's name and glory. Still 
more deeply rooted are the old folk-lore super- 
stitions which have come down through the 
ages by word of mouth, no doubt with the ac- 
cruing additions of time. 

Morlaix is the very centre of a land of mys- 

64 Rambles in Brittany 

tery, tradition, and superstition. Among these 
superstitious legends, " Jan Gant y tan," as 
it is known by its Breton title, stands out 

Jan, it seems, is a species of demon who 
carries by night five candles on the five fingers 
of each hand, and waves them wildly about, 
calling down wrath upon those who may have 
offended him. 

Another is to the effect that hobgoblins eat 
the cream which rises on milk at night. 

Yet another superstition is that the call of 
the cuckoo announces the year of one's mar- 
riage or death. 

Another, and perhaps the most curious of 
all, is that, if an infant by any chance gets his 
clothes wet at certain pools or fountains, he 
will die within a year, but he will live long 
years if he fall in, yet is able to preserve his 
garments from all dampness. 

When one drinks of the Fountain of De Kri- 
gnac three times within the hour, says the peas- 
ant of Plougasnou, and is not cured of the fever, 
let him abandon all thoughts of a remedy and 
prepare for death. 

There are two legends associated with Brit- 
tany which are little known. Both relate to 
Bluebeard. This legend is of Eastern origin, 

The Breton Tongue and Legend 65 

as far as concerns the story of the man who 
slew his wives by dragging them about by the 
hair, ultimately decapitating them; but the 
French Academy of Inscriptions and Polite 
Learning evolves a sort of modern parallel as 
another setting for the same apocryphal story. 
It concerns a certain Trophime, the daughter 
of a Duke of Vannes, in the sixth century. She 
was married to the Lord of Gonord, whose 
castle was situated on Mont Castanes, and was 
the eighth wife of her husband. He killed her 
because she discovered the bodies of her seven 
predecessors; but her sister Anne prayed to 
St. Gildas, who came with her two brothers 
to the rescue. St. Gildas restored Trophime to 
life, and the Bluebeard of Gonord and his castle 
were swallowed up by the earth. 

The origin of the story has always been in 
doubt, but the generally accepted theory is that 
Perrault founded the tale on the history of 
Gilles de Laval, Seigneur de Rais. 

The Academy, however, destroys all this 
early conjecture in favour of the Gilles de 
Laval affair. Since Gilles de Laval was a kins- 
man of the Dukes of Brittany, the following is 
given as his claim to having played the part, 
though, as the report of the Academy goes on 


Rambles in Brittany 

to say, De Laval proved himself to be but a 
fanatical sorcerer. 

Gilles de Laval was born in 1404, and was 
a member of the family of Laval-Montmorency. 
He was handsome, well born, rich, and a most 
valiant soldier, and one of the warmest sup- 
porters of Joan of Arc, whom he defended 
against all who spoke ill of her, constituting 

himself her per- 
s o n a 1 champion. 
He fought val- 
iantly with the 
" Maid," and was 
made a marshal of 
France when 
twenty - six years 
of age. He was 
very wealthy, and 
he doubled his pos- 
sessions when he 
married at the early age of sixteen. His ex- 
travagances, however, were greater than his 
riches. He had a refined taste, and loved illu- 
minated manuscripts, stamped Spanish leather, 
Flemish tapestries, Oriental carpets, gold and 
silver plate, music, and mystery plays. After 
peace was made, he and his wife retired to 
their castles and lands in the Vendee, where 

Gilles de Laval, after an engrav- 
ing of the fifteenth, century in the 
Bibliotheque Nationale. 

The Breton Tongue and Legend 67 

Grilles soon found himself hopelessly in debt. 
He had to find money somehow, for he was of 
a fine, open-handed disposition, and had never 
denied himself anything. It was only natural 
in that century that he should turn his thoughts 
toward alchemy and the philosopher's stone. 

Francesco Prelati, an Italian with a reputa- 
tion as a magician and a maker of gold, was 
installed, with all his alchemist's apparatus, in 
Grilles 's castle; but when he was asked to make 
gold, he confided to his patron that it would 
be necessary to summon the aid of the devil, 
and that for this purpose the blood of young 
children was absolutely required. The two 
then scoured the country round for children, 
whom they murdered with horrible rites, until 
at last their crimes became so notorious that 
they were arrested and tried at Nantes. Gilles 
de Laval and his accomplice were accused of 
murdering no fewer than twelve hundred chil- 
dren, and were tried for sorcery and found 
guilty. The Lord of Laval was strangled, and 
his body was burned; but Francesco Prelati, 
as a mere vulgar sorcerer, was burned alive. 

At Saint Cast in the Cotes du Nord, one hears 
vague and fabulous reports from the natives, 
even to-day, of a pirate ship — a veritable sis- 
ter ship to those of Duguay-Trouin of St. Malo 

68 Rambles in Brittany 

— named the Perillon and commanded by one 
Besnard, known as the terror of the seas. 
Like other songs of seafarers of the days gone 
by, that concerning the terror of the seas is 
good enough to incorporate into the text of 
some rattling story of pirates and corsairs, 
such as boys — and some grown-ups — the 
world over like. Another popular Breton air 
was known as " Biron ha D'Estin " (" Byron 
and D'Estaing "), and had to do with the war 
in America. Another was the " Chant du Pi- 
loted ' and had for its subject the combat of 
the Surveillante and the forts at Quebec in 

Of the same period was the " Corsairs' 
Song," which is very well known throughout 
Upper Brittany even to-day, beginning thus: 

" Le trente-un du mois d'aout." 

Throughout Upper Brittany also one hears the 
old housewives still mumbling the old words 
and air of the song current in the times of 
Francis the First. 

It was when the prince was treating for his 
release from captivity that the words first took 
shape and form: 

" Qnand le roi departit de France, 
Vive le roi ! 

The Breton Tongue and Legend 69 

A la male heure il departit, 

Vive Louis ! 
A la male heure il departit (bis). 

II departit jour de dimanche. 
Je ne suis pas le roi de France. 

Je suis un pauvre gentilhomme 
Qui va de pays en pays. 

Retourne-t-en vite a Paris." 



To-day the Bretons are the most loyal of all 
the citizens of the great republic of France. 
In reality they are a most democratic people, 
though they often affect a devotion for old 
institutions now defunct. They may be a super- 
stitious race, but they are not suspicious, al- 
though they have marked prejudices. When 
thoroughly understood, they are both likable 
and lovable, though their aspect be one of a 
certain sternness and aloofness toward the 
stranger. Their weapons are all in plain view, 
however, like the hedgehog's; there is nothing 
concealed to thwart one's desires for relations 
with them. 

Their country, their climate, and their en- 
vironment have much to do with their char- 
acter, manners, and customs ; and environment 
— as some one may have said before — is the 
greatest influence at work in shaping the atti- 
tude of a people toward an outsider, and every 


Manners and Customs 71 

one is still an outsider to a Breton, be lie 
French, English, or American. 

The Breton is really a gayer person than 
his expression leads one to suppose. Madame 
de Sevigne wrote, with some assurance, as was 
her wont: " You make me prefer the game- 
someness of our Bretons to the perfumed idle- 
ness of the Provencals." 

Certainly, to one who knows both races, the 
comparison was well made. It is a case of do- 
ing mischief against doing nothing. 

Brittany has not Normandy's general air of 
prosperity, and indeed at times there is a very 
near approach to poverty and distress, and 
then it is bruited abroad in the public prints 
that the fisheries have proved a failure. 

The Breton farming peasant, however, is not 
the poverty-stricken wretch that he has some- 
times been painted. He lives humbly, and eats 
vast quantities of potatoes and bread, little 
meat, some fish, always a salad, and, usually, 
a morsel of cheese, but he eats it off a cleanly 
scrubbed bare board and from clean and un- 
chipped plates. 

In his stable, such few belongings in the form 
of live stock as he has are well fed and con- 
tented, and his chickens and ducks and pigs and 
cows are as much a pride and profit to him as 

72 Rambles in Brittany 

to the peasant of other parts; but, after all, 
Brittany is not a land of milk and honey. The 
peasant lives in the atmosphere of dogged, ob- 
stinate labour, but he draws a competence from 
it, and it is mostly those who live in the sea- 
coast villages, and those who will huddle them- 
selves in and about the large towns and ports, 
such as Quimper and Brest, that are ever in 
want, and then only because of some untoward, 
unexpected circumstance. 

Agriculture and the business of the sea are 
closely allied in Brittany. Hundreds upon hun- 
dreds of young men work in the winter upon 
farms far inland, and come down to the sea 
with the coming of February and March, to 
ship in some longshore fishing-smack, or even 
to go as far away as Newfoundland, the Ork- 
neys, or to Iceland. 

This gives not only a peculiar blend of char- 
acter, but also a peculiar cast of countenance 
to the Breton; he is a sort of half -land and 
half-sea specimen of humanity, and handy at 
the business of either. 

In many ports, the Breton struggles contin- 
ually against shifting sand, — sand which is 
constantly shifting when piled in banks on 
the seashore, and becomes of the nature of 
quicksand when lying beneath the water where 

Manners and Customs 73 

the Breton moors his lobster-pots. Between 
the two, he is constantly harassed, and until 
the off season comes has little of that gaiety 
into which he periodically relaxes. Every one 
will remark that the aspect of both men and 
women is sombre and dark, even though their 
spontaneous gaiety and dress on the feast of 
a patron saint or at a great pardon gives one 
the impression of gladness. 

One sees this when on the great holidays the 
Breton peasant is moved to song, and chants 
such lines as the following, which more nearly 
correspond in sentiment to " We won't go home 
till morning " than anything else that can be 
thought of. 

" J'ai deux grands bceufs dans mon stable, 
J'ai deux grands boeufs marques de rouge ; 
lis gagnent plus dans une semaine 
Qu'ils n'en ont coute\ qu'ils n'en ont coute\ 

J'aime Jeanne ma femme ! 

J'aime Jeanne ma femme ! 
Eh bien ! j'aimerais mieux la voir mourir, 
Que de voir mourir mes bceufs.'* 

Doubtless there is not so much hard-hearted- 
ness about the sentiment as is expressed by the 
words, which, to say the least and the most, 
are not wholly up to the standard of " love, 
cherish, and protect/ ' 

74 Rambles in Brittany 

Once in awhile one sees the type of man who 
is known among his fellows as Breton des 
plus Bretons. Like his Norman brother, the 
Breton in the off season works hard playing 
dominoes or cards in the taverns, where one 
reads on a sign over the door that Jean X 
donne a boire et d manger, that is, if the sign 
be not in Breton, which more often than not 
it is. 

The landlord does not exactly " give " his 
fare; he exchanges it for copper sous, but he 
caters for the inner man at absurdly small 
prices, and accordingly is well patronized, in 
spite of his refusal of credit. 

Bowls is the national game of Brittany, hav- 
ing a greater hold upon the simple-minded Bre- 
ton, particularly in the neighbourhood of the 
Lannion, than any other amusement. No re- 
spectably ambitious inn in all Brittany is with- 
out its bowling-alley. As a distraction, it is 
mild and harmless, and withal good exercise, 
as we all know. 

The religious fervour of the Breton folk has 
been remarked of all who know them howso- 
ever slightly. It is universal, and, if it be more 
apparent in one place than any other, it is in 
the Department of Finistere, and it is not in 
the cities and towns that it reaches its greatest 

Manners and Customs 75 

height, but mostly in the country-side, or- on 
the seacoast among the labourers and the fisher- 

The religion of Brittany to-day is of the 
people and for the people. It is one of the 
great questions of the world to-day, but from 
a dogmatic point of view it shall have no dis- 
cussion here. Suffice it to say that throughout 
France, with the numerous great, and nearly 
always empty, churches ever before one, one 
can but realize that the power of the Church 
is not what it once was. 

The churchgoers are chiefly women ; seldom, 
if ever, except on a great feast-day, are the 
churches filled with a congregation at all rep- 
resentative of the population of the parish, and 
even in the great cathedrals the same impres- 
sion nearly always holds good. 

In Brittany, the case is somewhat different, 
in the country districts at least, and even at 
Roscoff, Quimper, Vannes, and Rennes, where 
there are great cathedrals. In Brittany, in 
every parish church and at every wayside 
shrine, is almost always to be found not only 
a little knot of devoutly kneeling peasants, but, 
on all occasions of mark, a congregation over- 
flowing beyond the doors. What this all sig- 
nifies, as before said, is no concern of the writer 

76 Rambles in Brittany 

of this book. It is simply a recorded state of 
affairs, and, judging from the attitude of the 
people themselves — when seen on the spot — 
toward the subject of religion, the most liberal 
thinker would hardly consider that here in 
Brittany religion was anything else than spon- 
taneous devotion on the part of the people. 

Of religion and priests, Brittany is full, but 
the people are not by any means priest-ridden, 
as many uncharitable and slack observers have 
asserted before now. No priest bids a Breton 
worship at any shrine. They do it of their own 
free will, and, though a churchman always offi- 
ciates at the great pardons and festivals, the 
worshippers themselves are as much the per- 
formers of the ceremony as the priest. 

In Brittany to-day the piece of money which 
passes current in most transactions, though in 
numbers it is infrequently handled by the trav- 
eller, is la piece, the half-franc or ten-sous coin. 

It is confusing when you are bargaining for 
a carriage to drive to some wayside shrine, 
to be told the price will be " deux pieces/ 7 when 
— in Normandy — you have just formed the 
habit of realizing offhand that deux cent sous is 
the same thing as ten francs. It's all very 
simple, when one knows what they are talking 
about, and the Breton likes still to think his 

Manner s and Customs 77 

institutions are different from those of the rest 
of France, and so he goes on bargaining in 
pieces, when in other parts they are counting 
in sous, which is even more confusing, or in 

Most of the farmhouses of Brittany are con- 
structed of stone and wood, with their roofs 
covered with a straw thatch. Of course this 
is a dangerous style of building to-day, as the 
authorities admit. Indeed a decree has gone 
forth in some parts forbidding the erection of 
any new straw-thatched building, and again 
in other parts against using any structure so 
built as a dwelling-house. The law is not abso- 
lutely observed, but it is by no means a dead 
letter, and the homely and picturesque thatched 
roof has now all but disappeared, except from 
the open country. 

To enter the Breton peasant's farmhouse, 
one almost invariably descends a step. The 
interior is badly lighted, and worse ventilated, 
but, as it is mostly the open-air life that the 
peasant and his family lead, perhaps this does 
not so much matter. Usually the house is com- 
posed of but one room, with a floor of hard- 
trodden earth. This is the dining-room, 
kitchen, and bedroom of all the family. The 
ceiling is composed of great rough-hewn raft- 


Rambles in Brittany 

ers, sometimes even of trunks left with the 
bark on, and from it are hung the knives and 
forks and dishes, as in a ship's cabin. 

Furniture has been reduced to the most sim- 
ple formula. Two or three great closed and 


Young Bretons 

panelled beds or bunks line one side of the wall, 
with perhaps a wardrobe, where the " Sunday- 
best ' ' of the whole household is kept. Beneath 
the great beds is a series of oaken chests, 
and there the household linen is stored. These, 
with a long table, with a bench and a wide pas- 

Manners and Customs 79 

sage on either side, the great, yawning fire- 
place, with its crane and the inevitable highly 
polished pots and pans, form the furnishings 
of this remarkable apartment. All this is 
homely and strange, but it is comfortable 
enough for the occupants, if one does not mind 
being crowded, and it is the typical dwelling 
throughout Brittany. 

Everywhere in the Breton country one sees 
oxen, cattle, and, above all, the horses of the 
indefatigable Breton race, " ready and willing 
to work and full of spirit in warfare/' So 
said Eugene Sue, and the same observation 
holds true to-day. None of the animals are so 
large or so fat as in the neighbouring provinces, 
but this is not because of malnutrition or be- 
cause they are ill-tended. The cows of Brit- 
tany are by no means such plump, dainty ani- 
mals as the cows of the Cotentin, and the Bre- 
ton horses are certainly undersized when com- 
pared to the Norman sires and the great-footed 
Percherons, but one and all possess good qual- 
ities purely their own, and one thing above all 
should be noted, — Brittany is exceedingly rich 
grazing country, if not agricultural. 

Much of the local character is shown in the 
dress of the people, and throughout the coun- 
try-side and the seacoast villages alike both 


Rambles in Brittany 

Manners and Customs 


men and women show that remarkable attention 
to dress which marks the strong individuality 
of the race, — individuality which has come 
down through the ages, and endures to this 

Jrv5e Smallest 
Coiffe in. 
73 r it* any 

R.McM- <5or 

day in very nearly, if not quite all, its original 
aspect. One knows this dress through photo- 
graphic reproductions, and from having occa- 
sionally seen it on the comic opera stage, but 
actually to live among such picturesquely 
dressed folk is like a step back into the past. 

82 Rambles in Brittany 

The costumes of Brittany are greatly varied, 
but all look theatrical, and many of them 
are remarkably embroidered in multicoloured 
braid. On all great occasions, feast-days and 
fairs, on Sundays and on the days of the par- 
dons, many ancient costumes, not modern re- 
productions, are seen. Particularly is this to 
be noted at Pont l'Abbe, Pont Aven, and else- 
where in the far west. The coifs of the women 
and the embroidered waistcoats and velvet-rib- 
boned hats of the men mark them as a species 
of Frenchmen different from their Norman 
brethren ; lovers of fanciful dress and customs 
quite Southern in gorgeousness, and not the 
least like the colder fashions of other dwellers 
in the same latitude. 

At Quimper is an interesting Ethnological 
Museum, where one may study the subject at 
length, and in the town one may buy fabrics 
and stuffs and articles of wearing apparel fash- 
ioned in the genuine Breton manner. 

The greatest activity of life in Brittany is 
in the coast towns, for there the populace has 
for the longest time been in touch with the 
ideas of an advanced civilization. 

By the very geographic position of Brittany 
this was inevitable, as the country was not in 
the direct path of any great current of com- 

Manners and Customs 


merce, and had no great navigable river, ex- 
cept the Loire, which bordered it upon the 

.^..,.1 'I III n III 11 ' 1 ' 1 llM(lM|i|| 

OIFFE.S "' > 

Ironing Coifs 

south. There had been malicious critics of 
things Breton before him, but there could have 
been no real justification for the lament of 
Paul St. Victor, who must have had an exceed- 

84 Rambles in Brittany 

ingly bad dinner at his inn when he delivered 
himself of the following: 

" Breton dialect is full of barbarisms, and 
Brittany is not even a healthy country for 
painters. It is a land of monasteries and dull 
routine; the same types and the same cos- 
tumes; no men, no women, all Bretons, all of 

As a race, the Breton may well be summed 
up as follows : They are the descendants of 
the men of a primitive epoch, from whom they 
inherit traits which even time has not entirely 
eradicated. Their intuitions are correct, and 
their convictions profound ; their will tenacious, 
and their energies equal to all that may be 
demanded of them. They are proud, truthful, 
courageous, intrepid, hospitable, and religious. 

The manufacturing industry throughout Brit- 
tany is practically null, if one except the work 
of the great arsenals and ship-building ports, 
and the production of such articles of local 
consumption as sail-cloth. 

Flax and hemp are grown in considerable 
quantities, but the ordinary crops of cereals 
rise to nothing like the proportions of those 
reared in Normandy or Perche. The Breton 
is strong on bee-keeping, however, and keenly 
watches the busy workers of his hives as they 

Manners and Customs 



gather their harvest from the abundant crop 
of wild flowers covering the hillsides. 

86 Rambles in Brittany 

The Breton communes are of vast extent 
compared with those of other parts of France, 
but the population is scattered. Gathered 
around the parish church are the dwellings of 
the market-towns of three, four, or five hun- 
dred inhabitants or more. Upon the whole, 
Brittany is not thinly peopled, the mean of its 
population exceeding that of most of the other 
provinces of France. Whatever the aborigines 
were, whether of Indo-Germanique type or of 
a species hitherto unplaced, the present Breton 
population has been developed along lines close 
to those of Britain. And the Bretons are not 
far behind, and herein undoubtedly lies the 
charm of Brittany for the English-speaking 

Writing of his stay at Guingamp, — which 
is about the dividing line where one passes from 
the zone of the French tongue to that of the 
Breton, where one is frequently to hear the 
short exclamation, " I do not understand you, ' ' 
— Arthur Young tells us of putting up at a 
roadside inn ' ' where the hangings over his bed 
were full of cobwebs and spiders.' ' The inn- 
keeper remarked to him that he had ' ' a superb 
English mare, ' ' and wished to buy it from him. 
" I gave him half a dozen flowers of French 
eloquence for his impertinence," said the witty 

Manners and Customs 87 

traveller, " when he thought proper to leave 
me and my spiders in peace.' ' " Apropos of 
the breed of horses in Lower Brittany, ' ' he con- 
tinues, " they are capital hunters, and yet my 
ordinary little English mare was much admired, 
while every stable round about is filled with a 
pack of these little pony stallions sufficient to 
perpetuate the local breed for long to come." 

To the humble inn — one of the regular post- 
ing-houses on the great highroad from Paris 
to Brest — he is not so complimentary. ' ' This 
villainous hole/' said he, " which calls itself a 
great house, is the best inn of the town, at which 
marshals of France, dukes, peers, countesses, 
and so forth, must now and then, by the acci- 
dents to which long journeys are subject, have 
found themselves. What are we to think of 
a country that has made, in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, no better provision for its travellers? " 
In this our author was clearly a faultfinder, 
or at least he was unfortunate in not living at 
a later day, for the above is certainly not true 
of the inns of France to-day, though it may 
truthfully be said that, even to-day, the inns 
of Brittany are a little backward, but it is not 
true of the Hotel de France at G-uingamp, which 
has even a dark room for the kodaker, and a 
fosse for the motor-car traveller. 



What the cider-apple crop is to Normandy, 
that the fisheries are to Brittany, and more, for 
the fisheries turn over more money by far than 
the cider of Normandy, which is grown purely 
for home consumption. The Breton young per- 
son of the male sex takes to the sea in the little 
pilchard-boats, the three-masters of the deep- 
sea fishery, or the whalers, for the purpose of 
earning his livelihood, and also to secure a pre- 
scribed term of exemption from military or 
naval service. With such an object, it is no 
wonder that the industry employs so many 
hands, and has become so important and con- 
siderable in its returns. Of course the geo- 
graphical position of the country has more than 
a little to do with this, and also the stony soil 
of the country-side, suggesting the harvest of 
the sea as a more ample crop. 

In Brittany, the sea nourishes the land, 
though perhaps but meagrely 



The Fisheries 89 

From the mouth of the Loire, around Finis- 
tere to Lannion, thousands upon thousands of 
the inhabitants live by the harvest of the sea, 
whereas, if it were not for this, they might 
be forced to emigrate, or to hie themselves to 
the large towns, there to herd in unsanitary 
quarters, which is worse. 

The pilchard fishery is practically at its best 
directly off the Quiberon peninsula, opposite 
Lorient and Concarneau. It is important also 
just offshore from Audierne, Douarnenez, and 

It is well to recall just what the sardine really 
is, inasmuch as we mostly buy any " little fishes 
boiled in oil," which a pushful grocer may 
thrust upon us. The " corporal's stripe," or 
the " cavalry corporal," as the sardine is 
known in France, is quite a different species 
from the " armed policeman," or common sea- 
garden herring. The Atlantic, the North Sea, 
the Baltic, and some parts of the Mediterranean 
are its home. It winters between 50 degrees 
and 60 degrees north latitude, in a zone where 
the temperature is constant, but from March 
to October it emigrates toward the north. 
Sometimes the future sardines are known as 
pilchards ; on the coasts of Normandy and Pi- 
cardy as hareng de Bergues; as sardines in 

90 Rambles in Brittany 

Brittany; as royan in Charente; and as sarda 
and sardinyola in the Pyrenees Orientales. 

The best and most common method of pre- 
serving the sardine is by slightly heating the 
oil before placing it with the fish in those little 
tin boxes known the world over ; then the boxes 
are soldered and put into a double boiler and 
boiled for the better part of an hour, when the 
exceedingly simple process is finished. So sim- 
ple is it, and so readily accomplished without 
a great capital investment, that the wonder is 
that imitations of the ' ' real Brittany sardines ' ' 
are not more successful elsewhere. Up to 
this time, however, nothing rivals the Breton 

Each year, at the feast of St. Jean, the 
barques set out from the various ports, all 
richly decorated, and often sped on their way 
by a religious ceremony, at which a priest offi- 
ciates and gives his blessing. 

The profits vary considerably one year from 
another, as may be supposed. The catch is 
by no means constant. Its ordinary receipts 
approximate twelve million francs, and, when it 
drops below this figure, distress is likely to 
ensue, particularly if a hard winter falls upon 
Brittany, which in truth it seldom does. 

The little fish return each year, their feeding- 

The Fisheries 91 

ground scarcely varying thirty miles in any 
direction. Thus, in season, the boats with their 
red sails and blue and brown nets put off for 
the same spots where they took their catches 
last year, only to find that the habits of the 
sardines have not in the least changed. Five or 
six men to a boat is the average crew, and, if 
the wind be contrary, their speed is much the 
same by means of oars. Once arrived on the 
ground, the skipper of the boat throws over- 
board at intervals some handfuls of rogue as 
a bait; this is a paste composed of the roe of 
the cod, and the only drawback is that its cost 
is great. It comes mostly from Norway, and, 
after passing through many intermediate hands, 
finally reaches the Breton fisherman, who pays 
from sixty to seventy francs per hundred kilos. 
When the price rises above this figure, the in- 
genious skipper fabricates a substitute, a mix- 
ture of the real article and a local vegetable 
product known as farine d'arachides. Its re- 
sults are not so good as those from the real 
article, and the local fishermen have a saying 
which is doubtless so true as to have become 
a proverb : * ' One must bait with fish to catch a 
fish. ' ' Moreover, the fish caught by this means 
do not rank as a first quality product in the 
markets of the Breton fishing ports, owing to 

92 Rambles in Brittany 

the after-effects on the fish, which shall be un- 
defined here. It may be well to recall the fact, 
however, and, if you get a sardine which is not 
what you think it ought to be, and is too much 
like a bad oyster, you may depend upon it that 
it was caught with farine d'arachides. 

The Breton custom is to fish with buoyed 
nets, disdaining the drag-net, though occasion- 
ally the latter is used. 

The buoyed nets merely scoop the surface of 
the water, but the drag-nets are sunk to a depth 
of from forty to fifty metres. When the skip- 
per estimates that the net is full, or, at least, 
that he shall have a haul worthy of his trouble, 
all hands, singing as all sailor-folk do, pull the 
net inboard, and, with a clever turn, empty 
it of its freight of silver-scaled fish, which are 
forthwith scooped up and placed in great bas- 
kets. On the return to port, the fishermen still 
in harbour, the factory hands, and all the in- 
habitants who are not otherwise employed, even 
though they ought to be, to say nothing of curi- 
ous peasant-folk from the inland towns, and 
always a generous sprinkling of tourists, and 
the inevitable American artist, are in waiting, 
curious as to the luck. 

Here the dealers come and bargain for the 
catch. Thirty to thirty-five francs a thousand 

The Fisheries 93 

is usually the market price, and the choic- 
est fish naturally sell first. Speculation comes 
in now and then, and a scare as to the prospect 
of the catch being too abundant is as common 
and as disastrous as the fear that it may not 
be large enough. Sometimes the price will 
fall as low as a franc and a half, and then come 
" trials without number for the sailors,' ' as an 
old fisherman told the writer. Certainly, if 
thirty francs a thousand be only a paying wage, 
a franc and a half must mean about the same 
as utter failure to the crew, who generally work 
the boat on shares. 

The pilchard fishers have not forgotten the 
crisis of 1903, to combat the recurrence of 
which it was proposed to establish special 
schools for fishermen apprentices, and to for- 
bid the use of the drag-net, and they are seek- 
ing a rearrangement of conditions whereby the 
returns may be more equally distributed among 
the workers than now. At the present time the 
owner — who fits out the boat — claims a third, 
and the skipper a third, the hands dividing the 
other third. According to this arrangement, 
the novice or apprentice receives an infinitesi- 
mal share. 

As a Frenchman, a Breton of Quimper who 
was not in the sardine business, said to us: 

94 Rambles in Brittany 

' Ces pauvres diables! lis merit eraient 
mienx." All of which is true, so let all well- 
wishers, who are fond of the " little fishes 
boiled in oil " at their picnic dinners, give a 
thought now and again to the Breton fisherman. 

Besides the sardine fisheries, there is a con- 
siderable traffic from such ports as Treguier, 
St. Malo, and Morlaix in the deep-sea fishery, 
and elsewhere in the mackerel and herring fish- 
ery in Icelandic waters and the North Sea, and 
these give a prosperity that would otherwise be 

Statistics are dry reading, and so they are 
not given here, but there are some curious 
things with regard to the laws regulating the 
offshore and deep-sea fisheries of France, just 
as there are with respect to the line fishing, 
by which method one can legally take fish only 
if he actually hold his rod or line in his hand : 
he may not lay it on the ground beside him and 
doze until an unusually frisky gudgeon wakes 
him up. 

On all of the French fishing-craft, which sail 
to the Banks or to Iceland for cod, French 
salt must be used, and all masters of fishing- 
craft must keep a supplementary log or diary 
relating to the takings of fish alone. 

In deep-sea fishing the law prescribes that 

The Fisheries 95 

a vessel which is fitted out for the fishing-banks 
must remain on the ground a certain length of 
time. This is to preclude the possibility of a 
decreasing catch, it is to be presumed, as many 
a fisherman has been known, before now, to give 
up the labour with holds half-filled simply be- 
cause he had come upon a meagre feeding- 
ground. It seems a wise precaution, and is an- 
other of those parental acts which the French 
government is always undertaking on behalf 
of its children. There is still the whalebone 
catch to reckon with, for the French govern- 
ment specializes this industry, and offers a 
bonus of seventy francs a ton displacement 
on leaving port for all French equipments, and 
fifty francs per ton displacement upon return- 
ing after the term prescribed. 




At Ancenis, the Loire, that mighty river 
which rises near the frontier of Garde, a Medi- 
terranean department, enters Brittany on its 
way to the Atlantic. For more than nine hun- 
dred kilometres above this point, the Loire has 
been navigable for such fresh-water craft as 
usually are found upon great waterways, and, 
having passed Orleans, Blois, and Tours, and 
broadened out into a great, wide, shallow 
stream, it is to be reckoned as one of the 
world's great rivers. Mostly its appearance is 
that of a broad, tranquil, docile stream, with 
scarce enough depth of water to make a re- 
spectable current, leaving its bed with its bars 
of sand and pebbles bare to the sky. This lack 
of depth, except at occasional flood, is the prin- 
cipal and obvious reason for the comparative 
absence of water-borne traffic. 

At the times of the great freshets there are 
twenty-three feet or more registered on the 

100 Rambles in Brittany 

huge black and white scale of the bridge at 
Ancenis, and again it falls to less than a fourth 
of that height, and then there is a mere rivulet 
of water trickling through the broad channel at 
Chaumont, at Blois, or at Orleans. 

In the olden time, as one passed from Anjou 
into Brittany, by way of the valley of the Loire, 
he came to a great barrier across the road, — a 
veritable frontier post, with a custom-house and 
examiners, as if one were passing into a foreign 
country. The Bevolution changed all this, and 
now nothing but another of that vast family 
of great, white departmental boundary-posts 
marks the dividing line between the Maine et 
Loire and the Loire-Inferieure, the border de- 
partments between the old province of the 
Counts of Anjou and that of the Breton dukes. 

Just above Ancenis, one passes vineyard 
after vineyard, and chateau after chateau fol- 
lows rapidly in turn, — all very delightful, as 
Pepys would have said. Not so the bridge at 
Ancenis, quite the ugliest wire-rope affair to 
be seen on the Loire, and one is only too glad 
to leave it behind, though it is with a real re- 
gret that he parts from Ancenis itself. 

Ancenis is one of those blessed spots posses- 
sing a chateau; it is endowed with a wonder- 
fully picturesque situation, and, moreover, is 

The Loire in Brittany 101 

capable of catering for the inner man in so 
satisfactory a manner that one can but pnt 
it down in his books as one of the spots to be 
favoured. The Barons of Ancenis were a long 
and picturesque line, and their local fame has 
by no means perished. The old-time chateau, 
constructed in the fifteenth century, was the 
masterwork of a famous Angevin architect, 
Jean Lespine by name. To-day this fine build- 
ing, or what is left of it, has become an Ursu- 
line boarding-house. Much is still left to tell 
the story of its former greatness, but it is not 
so accessible as one would like. 

The most that can be remarked is a great 
doorway flanked by two towers, with overpow- 
ering machicolations, another smaller tower, — 
a tourelle, the French themselves would call 
it, — and a ruined pavilion, where, in 1468, 
Francis, Duke of Brittany, signed a treaty with 
Louis XI. On the market-house of Ancenis is 
superimposed a sort of a belfry which, seen in 
conjunction with the low-lying river-bank, im- 
parts a low-country aspect to the town. The 
old streets of Ancenis give shelter to many fine 
mediaeval houses, of which the most notable is 
perhaps the old " house of the Croix de Lor- 

Below Ancenis, navigation is not so difficult, 

102 Rambles in Brittany 

but the river current is more strong. For a 
long distance, on the right bank, extends a dike, 
carrying the roadway beside the river for a 
matter of a hundred kilometres. This is one 
of the charms of travel by the Loire. When 
you see any animation on its bosom, save an 
occasional fishing-punt, neither it nor its occu- 
pant usually very animated, it is one of those 
great flat-bottomed ferry-boats, with a square 
sail hung on a yard amidships, such as Turner 
always made an accompaniment to his Loire 

Conditions of traffic thereon have not changed 
much since those days. Whenever one sees a 
barge or a boat worthy of classification with 
those on the rivers of the east or north, or of 
the canals, it is only about a quarter of the 
usual size, so, altogether, in spite of its great 
navigable length, the waterway of the Loire is 
more valuable as a picturesque and healthful 
element of the landscape than as a commercial 
artery. Below Nantes is the " section mari- 
time," which from Nantes to the sea is a mat- 
ter of some sixty kilometres. Here the boats 
increase in number and size. They are known 
as lighters, barges, and tenders, and go down 
with the river current and return on the incom- 
ing ebb, for here the river is tidal. 

The Loire in Brittany 103 

From this one gathers that the Loire, so 
noble and magnificent, is the most aristocratic 
river of France, and so, too, it is with respect 
to its associations of the past. 

It has not the grandeur of the Rhone when 
the spring freshets from the Jura and the Swiss 
lakes have filled it to its banks; and it has 
not the burning activity of the Seine, as it bears 
its thousands of boat-loads of produce and mer- 
chandise to and from market; it has not the 
prettiness of the Thames, or the legendary as- 
pect of the Ehine; but, in a way, it combines 
something of the features of all, and has, in 
addition, a tone that is all its own, as it sweeps 
the horizon through its countless miles of ample 
curves, and holds within its embrace all that 
is best of mediaeval and Renascence France, 
the period which built up the later monarchy 
and — who shall say not ? — the present pros- 
perous nation. 

The Loire is essentially a river of other days. 
Truly, as Mr. James has said, " it is the very 
model of a generous, beneficent stream. ... A 
wide river which you may follow by a wide 
road is excellent company.' ' The Frenchman 
himself is more flowery. "It is the noblest 
river of France. Its basin is immense, magnifi- 
cent.' J All of which is true, too. For a good 

104 Rambles in Brittany 

bit of local colour of this region, one should 
read Chapter V. of " The Regent 's Daughter, ' ' 
by Dumas, wherein the willing Gaston, in the 
midday sunshine of a winter's day, made his 
way from Nantes to Paris, " travelling slowly 
as far as Oudon opposite Champtoceaux. ' ' 
1 ' At Oudon he halted and put up at the Char- 
Couronne, an inn with windows overlooking the 
highroad.' ' Some stirring events took place 
here, but the reader is referred to the pages of 
Dumas for the details. 

Oudon, however, will not detain the cursory 
traveller of to-day, even if he deigns to visit 
it at all. 

Champtoceaux, on the other hand, though 
only a small town of thirteen hundred inhab- 
itants, does awaken interest. Formerly it be- 
longed to the Counts of Anjou, and then to the 
Dukes of Brittany. 

Its site is most picturesque; it stands on a 
mound some two hundred feet above the Loire. 
There are two fine mediaeval churches, and an 
old chateau, which, with the ruins of the an- 
cient fortified castle, now forms a part of the 
domain of a M. de la Touche, who will kindly 
permit the visitor to inspect the details of this 
ancient feudal stronghold. 

The dismantled old walls are covered with 

The Loire in Brittany 105 

moss and lichens, and their picturesqueness is 
of that quality that painters love to put on can- 
vas. The wonder is that Champtoceaux has 
not become a new artists' sketching-ground, 
such as are so often discovered — or rediscov- 
ered — throughout France. Perhaps it is be- 
cause of its distance from Paris, for your artist- 
painter, be he French, English, or American, 
dearly loves the streets of the Latin Quarter, 
and, as a rule, prefers Fontainebleau and its 
circle of artist colonies to going farther afield. 

At last one beholds what a Frenchman has 
called the " tumultuous vision of Nantes." To- 
day the very ancient and historic city which 
grew up from the Portus Nannetum and the 
Condivientum of the Romans is indeed a veri- 
table tumult of chimneys, masts and smoke- 
stacks, and locomotives. But all this will not 
detract one jot from its reputation of being 
one of the most delightful of provincial capi- 
tals, and the smoke and activity of its port only 
tend to accentuate the note of colour, which 
in the whole itinerary of the Loire has been but 

The former reputation of Nantes as a little 
capital where gaiety and wealth came in abun- 
dance is correct for to-day, but a comparison 
is interesting. Here is a reminiscence of old 

106 Rambles in Brittany 

stage-coaching days, when the post took four 
days to make the journey from Paris : 

" The neighbourhood of the theatre is mag- 
nificent, all the streets being at right angles 
and of white stone. One is in doubt as to 
whether the Hotel Henri IV. is not the finest 
inn in Europe." (It must have disappeared 
since those days, but really its reputation still 
lives in any one of the three leading hotels.) 
" Dessein's " (also disappeared) " at Calais 
is larger, but is not built, fitted up, or furnished 
like this, which is new. It cost nearly five hun- 
dred thousand francs, and contains sixty bed- 
rooms. It is without comparison the first inn 
of France, and very cheap withal. 

' ' The theatre must have cost a like sum, and, 
when its seats are full, holds 120 louis d'or. 
The ground that the inn is built upon cost nine 
francs a foot, and elsewhere in the city one may 
pay as much as fifteen francs. This ground 
value induces them to build so high as to be 
destructive of beauty." Unquestionably this 
last observation was quite true then, as it is 
now, but Nantes nevertheless fills very nearly 
every qualification of a well-laid-out and at- 
tractive city. 

To some Nantes will be reminiscent of Ven- 
ice, or at least some Dutch city, for its five 

The Loire in B rittany 107 

river branches are continually crossing and 
recrossing one's path in most bewildering fash- 
ion, and bridges confront one at every turn. 

The city's attractions are many, from its 
great cathedral and its chateau-fortress, enclos- 
ing a beautiful edifice wherein once lived the 
Duchess Anne, to its great hotels, cafes, and 
shops of modern times. 

Five great events of history stand forth 
prominent in the memory of the very name of 
Nantes: the struggle of John of Montfort 
against Charles of Blois for the ducal power; 
the affairs of the League; the famous Edict; 
the Cellamare conspiracy; and the rising of 
the Vendeans and the rascally Carrier's retal- 
iation in Revolutionary days. 

Each and every one of these were vivid and 
bloody enough to furnish inexhaustible mate- 
rial for a novelist of the Dumas school, should 
he rise in the future, for the half has not yet 
been used. It was in the Place of Bouffay that 
that execution of the Breton conspirators took 
place, of which we read in the graphic pages 
of Dumas. Gaston, who sought to deliver his 
former companions, was posting along the road 
to Nantes with their reprieve safely guarded. 
Before the age of steam and electricity, news 
travelled slowly, and Sevres, Versailles, Ram- 

108 Ram bles in Brittany 

bouillet, Chartres, Mans, and Angers were then 
far apart. But the faithful Gaston travelled 
fast, one of the bystanders at Rambouillet 
calling to him: " If you go at that pace, you 
will kill more than one team between here and 
Nantes. ' ' 

Gradually he learned that a " courier of the 
minister's " had passed that way. This was 
the beginning of what Dumas called the ' ' trag- 
edy of Nantes." The event was historical, and 
Dumas 's account was most dramatic, yet did 
not differ greatly from the facts. Gaston ar- 
rived too late. Talhouet was dead, and the 
Place of Bouffay reeked with the blood of the 
conspirators, who, guilty though they were, had 
received the pardon of the Regent. The cry 
of De Conedic, as he bent his head to the block, 
still echoes down through history: " See how 
they recompense the services of faithful sol- 
diers! Ye cowards of Bretagne," he cried, as 
the sword of the executioner fell upon him. 
Ten minutes afterward the square was empty. 
One of the corpses still held a crumpled paper 
in his hand, — it was the pardon of the other 
four, for the bearer had arrived too late. Thus 
finished " the tragedy of Nantes." 

Though this part of Brittany has the repu- 
tation of being the least illiterate of any, as late 

The Loire in Brittany 109 

as the beginning of the last quarter of the nine- 
teenth century might be seen at Nantes the 
sign of the public scrivener, which read: 


10 centimes par lettre 

Below Nantes the Loire basin has turned 
the surrounding country into a little Hol- 
land, where fisherfolk and their boats, with 
sails of red and blue, form charming sympho- 
nies of dull colour. In the drinking-places 
along its shores there is a strange medley of 
peasants, seafarers, and fisher men and women. 
Not so cosmopolitan a crew as one sees in the 
harbour-side drinking-places at Marseilles, or 
even at Havre, but sufficiently strange to be a 
fascination to one who has just come down 
from the headwaters. 

Gray and green is the aspect at the Loire's 
source, and green and gray it still is, though 
of a decidedly different colour value, at St. 
Nazaire, below Nantes, the real deep-water 
port of the Loire. By this time the river has 
amplified itself into a broad estuary, and is lost 
in the incoming and outgoing tides of the Bay 
of Biscay. From its source the Loire has 

110 Rambles in Brittany 

wound its way gently, broadly, and with placid 
grandeur through rocky escarpments, fertile 
plains, populous and luxurious towns, all his- 
toric ground, by stately chateaux and through 
vineyards and fruit-orchards. Now it becomes 
more or less prosaic and matter of fact, though, 
in a way, no less interesting, as it takes on some 
of the attributes of the outside world. 

Here one gives the last glance to the Loire, 
as an inland waterway, for, by the time Nantes 
is passed, it is of the sea salty. Here the Sevre 
Nantaise comes from the Department Deux- 
Sevres and numerous other streams broaden 
the lower river until it meets the bay at St. 
Nazaire, where coasters and deep-sea fisher- 
men take the place of boat-haulers and vine- 
yard-workers as picturesque accessories to the 

Jacobites and their sympathizers will take 
pleasure in noting that it was in the early days 
of St. Nazaire's importance as a port that the 
Young Pretender set sail thence in 1745, in a 
frigate provided by a Mr. Walsh of Nantes. 

It is only now that one realizes to the full 
the gamut through which run the varying moods 
of the Loire, from the hard, sterile lands 
around Le Puy through the pleasant Nivernais, 
the Orleanais, the vineyards of Saumur, to the 

The Loire in Brittany 111 

Sardinieres and the salt works of the marshes 
of Bourg de Batz and Croisic. 

It was from Croisic that Talhouet, one of 
the Breton conspirators of " The Regent's 
Daughter/ ' threatened to set sail if discovered 
in their dastardly plot against the Regent. 

" I shall be off to St. Nazaire," said he, 
" and from thence to Croisic; take my advice 
and come with me. I know a brig about to 
start for Newfoundland, and the captain is a 
servant of mine. If the air on shore become 
too bad, we will embark, set sail, and adieu 
to the galleys." " Well, I for one," said his 
companion, "am a Breton, and Bretons trust 
only in God." 

South of the Loire, in that small fragment 
of territory which formerly belonged to the 
old province, is a wonderful collection of old- 
time and gone-to-seed towns hardly ever vis- 
ited by the general run of tourists. 

Paimboeuf and Pornic and Clisson are the 
three places which appeal most strongly, and 
this chiefly by their accessibility to Nantes. To 
the southwest is the Lake of Grand Lieu, which, 
according to an ancient Armorican legend, was 
the former site of a city " flourishing, but dis- 
solute," which was submerged for its sins by 

112 Rambles in Brittany 

the command of God. This sounds apocryphal, 
but the moral is plain. 

Anciently the Ketz country, lying just south- 
ward of the Loire, formed a part of the ancient 
Breton province, and, although before the Rev- 
olution and the rearrangement of provinces 
and departments anew this member had been 
shorn away, yet Paimboeuf, on the south bank 
of the Loire, just beyond Nantes, is of Breton 
nomenclature, known in French as Tete de 
Boeuf. To-day it is but a relic of a former 
great port, now deserted; St. Nazaire, its 
younger relative, with much more ample com- 
mercial resources, has drawn its trade away, 
and its quays and docks are now unoccupied, 
except by coasters and fishing-boats. 

Paimboeuf has already become depopulated, 
and the former little fishing port of Pornic 
daily takes on more and more importance. 

Pornic itself has a charm which Paimboeuf 
entirely lacks. It is a lively little fishing village 
of perhaps two thousand inhabitants. The 
port, the bay, and the canal which empties into 
the salt waters of the Atlantic form a delightful 
setting for artists' foregrounds, let the back- 
grounds be what they may. At present, it has 
taken on somewhat of the aspect of a watering- 
place, but it is safe to say that it will never 

The Loire in Brittany 


become popular as such, in spite of the fact 
that a casino has already made its appear- 

In addition to the charm of its situation, the 
chief attraction of Pornic is its thirteenth and 
fourteenth century chateau, with its fine towers 
and machicolations. Its history, like that of 



most others of its kind, has been romantic, and 
by no means has it always had the placid aspect 
which it has to-day. It was taken from Gilles 
de Retz by the Dukes of Brittany during the 
civil wars, and to-day belongs to a M. de Bour- 
quency, who has restored it admirably. 

At the foot of the chateau is a great cross 
of stone, called the Croix of the Huguenots, 
erected, it is said, by converted Calvinists. At 

114 Rambles in Brittany 

the foot of this cross are buried the bones of 
over two hundred Vendeans killed at Pornic. 

Clisson is a small town of something less than 
three thousand inhabitants, whose very name 
will conjure up memories of the great Con- 
stable Olivier de Clisson. There is much here 
of interest, but the history of the town, the 
chateau, and of De Clisson himself are so in- 
terwoven with the affairs of state and warfare 
of the nation that the outline even may not be 
given here. The ruins of the old-time chateau 
are a wonderfully impressive reminder of 
other days, other ways. As a whole, it is a 
grand ruin only, although an architect or ar- 
chaeologist may build up somewhat of an ap- 
proach to the former glorious fabric. The 
great central tower has not even preserved its 
walls entire, but what is left stands to-day as 
one of the most imposing examples of a great 
feudal keep yet extant. Clisson has some right 
to be considered up to date, in that some enter- 
prising inhabitant has introduced an electric- 
light plant. In spite of this, however, the don- 
jon is one of those architectural splendours of 
the world which, like the Coliseum at Borne and 
Melrose Abbey, should be seen by moonlight 
in order to be rightly appreciated. 

The chapel, in which was celebrated the mar- 

Donjon of Clisson 

The Loire in Brittany 115 

riage of Duke Francis II. and Margaret of 
Foix, the keep, the dungeons, the ramparts, and 
the chief apartments occupied by the constable 
himself have been preserved, and make Clisson 
well worth the half-day it will take to go there 
from Nantes. 



Next to Marseilles, Nantes is the finest pro- 
vincial capital of France. This may be dis- 
puted, but it is the opinion of the writer. 

Perhaps it is because of the glorious part 
that the city played in the past to preserve its 
independence, and the independence of Brit- 
tany, succumbing only with the second marriage 
of Queen Anne ; but, for some reason, the links 
that bind it with the past have never grown 
rusty, nor have modern cosmopolitan charac- 
teristics destroyed the individuality of the 

The situation doubtless has much to do with 
the air of geniality which pervades the city. 
When the Loire glistens under the caressing 
rays of the setting sun, and the roof-tops of 
the town are all of a reddened gold, Nantes 
might indeed be even now the mediaeval capital 
that it was before the age of steam and elec- 
tricity, which sound the only modern notes to 


Nantes to Vannes 117 

be heard here. At night the spectacle is far 
more dramatic, with the streets and quays lit 
by countless lamps; the subdued murmur of 
the workaday world, now all but gone to rest; 
for an occasional shriek from a locomotive or 
a wail from the siren of some great steamer 
dropping down-river with the tide is all that 
one hears. 

There is a forest of masts of shipping, scores 
upon scores of great chimney-stacks, of ship- 
houses, of sugar and oil refineries, and along 
the quay-side streets there are yet sailors and 
longshoremen hanging about and smoking a 
finishing pipe, or drinking a last drop of spirit 
or glass of beer. But all is " drawing in," and 
soon all will be hushed in silence, and only the 
walls and towers of the great castle and the 
cathedral will keep watch, as they have for five 
centuries past. This is Nantes, the great tra- 
ding port. Up in the town blaze forth the great 
hotels that would do credit to Paris, and yet 
are so different, and coffee-rooms as splendid 
and brilliant as any in the capital itself, with 
the prices of the portions twenty per cent, 

They keep late hours in this part of Nantes, 
and night does not actually fall until midnight, 
when, one by one, up go the coffee-room shut- 

118 Rambles in Brittany 

ters, — to come down again in the same order 
between six and seven in the morning. This is 
not bad for a climate which on the Loire ap- 
proaches almost Mediterranean mildness. It is 
a pity that cold and anstere England does not 
rise a little earlier in the morning. London, 
it is true, sits up late enough, but she makes up 
for it by dawdling away all the morning up to 
half-past ten or eleven. 

In spite of all its loveliness and gaiety, 
Nantes is a city more ancient than modern, — 
this antique Namnetes, the capital, by prefer- 
ence, of the Dukes of Brittany, and the political 
rival of Rennes. 

The old lanes and crossways of the middle 
ages have disappeared in making the spacious 
great streets of our own time, but there is much 
left to remind one of other days in the old 
houses and in the ever dominant cathedral and 

The Cathedral of St. Pierre is not a master- 
piece of itself, but it encloses a treasure that 
may well be included in that category, — the 
tomb of Duke Francis II. and Margaret of 
Foix. The great harmony of this composition, 
under the half-light of the stained-glass win- 
dows, reveals a charm that most mausoleums 
altogether lack. On a tablet of white marble 

Nantes to Vannes 119 

lie the effigies of the duke and duchess, with 
two angels kneeling at their heads, and, 
crouched at their feet, a greyhound, support- 
ing the escutcheon of Brittany. Four statues, 
at the corners of the pedestal, symbolize 
Justice, Strength, Temperance, and Prudence. 
This magnificent tomb is justly counted as 
Michel Colombe's finest work. 

The castle of Nantes, like that of Angers, is 
now an arsenal, and accordingly is less inter- 
esting than if it were even a shattered ruin. It 
was the castle of the dukes, and the great lodge, 
a dainty Renaissance building, with delicately 
sculptured window-frames and balconies capri- 
ciously disposed, gives an idea of the comfort 
and luxury with which pervasive Duchess Anne 
surrounded herself in the vivid days when she 
lived at Nantes. Within the walls of the castle, 
one might yet see — were one allowed to ramble 
over it at will — the chambers where the odi- 
ous Gilles of Laval, the Marechal de Raiz, Fou- 
quet, the Cardinal de Retz, and the Duchess 
de Berri were imprisoned during the long years 
that it served as a cage for the political pris- 
oners of France. Madame de Sevigne so- 
journed here in 1675, so the sombre and yet 
gay castle, besides having entertained many of 
the Kings of France, from Louis XI. onward, 

120 Rambles in Brittany 

has also somewhat of the aspect of a literary 

In the courtyard is a great well with an ad- 
mirably worked decorative railing in wrought 
iron, quite worthy to rank with Quintin Mat- 
sys's famous well at Antwerp. The museums 
of painting and of archaeology, abounding in 
rare Breton antiquities, give the town promi- 
nence among the artistic centres of provincial 
France. The former contains some fine exam- 
ples of the work of Philippe de Champaigne, 
Lancret, Watteau, and Theodore Eousseau 
among others. 

The environs of Nantes are wonderfully pic- 
turesque for the artist, but offer little for the 
amusement of the 125,000 inhabitants of this 
city of affairs. 

To the north, the Erdre winds its way 
through flat banks, and widens out here and 
there into a veritable lake. 

From Nantes to the ocean the wind blows 
more strongly and the horizon widens; the 
great waterway of the Loire has already be- 
come practically an arm of the sea, and one 
breathes its salt air. The aspect of nature now 
grows more and more melancholy for the seeker 
after gaiety and life ; only the artist will revel 
in these dull brown and gray riverside and sea- 

Nantes to Vannes 121 

side towns, which follow the coast-line from 
St. Nazaire to Batz, Croisic, and Guerande. It 
is what the French themselves call a land of 
grayish twilight, with vast stretches of marsh- 
land and pebble-strewn sands. 

At the extremity of the north bank of the 
Loire, at the apex of a bend of the coast-line, 
is the Bay of Croisic and the Batz country. 

Like a needle pricking the horizon, the tip 
of the tower of Croisic marks the location of 
this sleepy little port in the flat and saline 
marsh-land round about. South lie the light- 
house and the tower of the ruined church of 
Bourg de Batz, that little Breton village all but 
isolated from the mainland itself. 

It is the true borderland or frontier between 
the sea and the land, the one almost imper- 
ceptibly mingling with the other. Of it Jean 
Richepin sang: 

" Mirage ! Sahara ! les Bedouins ! Un iWir 
Est venu planter la ses innombrables tentes 
Dont les cones dresses en blanchenrs eclatantes 
Resplendissent parmi les tons bariol^s 
De tapis d'Orient sur le sol etal^s ; 
Ses cones dont les tas de sel sur les ladures, 
Et ses riches tapis aux brillantes bordures 
Ne sont que les Cabiers, les Fares, les (Eillets. 
On l'evaporement laisse de gros feuillets 
M6talliques, moires flottant d'or et de soir. 

122 Rambles in Brittany 

Par l'6tier et le tour qu'un paludier fossoil 
La mer entre, s'epand, s'eparpille en circuits, 
Puis arrive aux bassins. ..." 

" The sea sells cheap,' ' say the natives, who 
are mostly engaged in the salt industry, as one 
would infer from the foregoing. Competition 
has cut considerably into the industry of recov- 
ering salt from the sea-water, but it is still kept 
up, and these little Breton coast villages depend 
upon it, and on fishing, for their sustenance. 

St. Nazaire, where the sea first meets the 
waters of the Loire, is quite new, created but 
yesterday by the march of progress. Tradi- 
tion connects the site of this busy port — the 
seventh in rank among the ports of France — 
with the ancient Gallo-Roman port of Corbilon. 
No trace of its former appellation exists since 
the sixth century, when Gregory of Tours, in 
the first history of France, mentions the settle- 
ment as having been pillaged by a Breton chief, 
and refers to it as Vic-Saint-Nazaire, which 
nearly approaches its present name. 

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the 
market-town was called Port Nazaire, and was 
defended by a castle erected by the Dukes of 

Modern navigation has replaced the old sail- 
ing-vessels, and to-day, with its coastwise and 

Nantes to Vannes 


124 Rambles in Brittany 

foreign trade and its great shipyards, St. Na- 
zaire is a busy, bustling town. The blemish 
it has, in the eyes of most, will be its general 
aspect of modernity and its uncompromising, 
right-angled, straight streets, laid out on a plan 
which suggests that of Chicago, if one make 
an allowance for the difference in magnitude. 
St. Nazaire surpasses Chicago, however, in 
having a sea front, instead of a lake front, and 
its hotels are better and cost less. What more 
should a passing traveller want of a modern 

Between Nantes and St. Nazaire, on the gran- 
ite flank of Sillon de Bretagne, sits Savenay, 
as if its houses were ranged around the steps 
of an amphitheatre. It has fallen considerably 
from its proud position of having been the 
flourishing capital of the district. It still is 
the largest town, but none of the honours go 
with its size ; decay has fallen upon it, and the 
hotels are dull, sad places, and even the omni- 
bus from the railway has stopped its journeys. 

The town was the site of a terrific conflict 
in the Vendean wars, and was well-nigh des- 
troyed, and its inhabitants were massacred. 
Now vineyards grow upon the very soil that 
a hundred or more years ago covered thou- 
sands of corpses. Altogether it is a gruesome 

Nantes to Vannes 125 

memory which Savenay conjures up, if one 
dare even to think of it. 

Between Savenay and Guerande, at an equal 
distance between the two, are the peat-bogs of 
Grand Briere. They are the great resources 
of the country. Would you see them worked? 
Then come in August, when you are making 
your way to some seacoast resort of Lower 
Brittany. For nine days only in the year do 
the authorities permit the sods to be cut, but 
everybody takes part therein, you will be told; 
and enough peat will be gathered, and dried, 
and pressed into " loaves," as the Brierons 
call them, to warm Nantes for a year. 

Guerande is a capital not quite so dead and 
alive as Savenay; it is the possessor of a past 
of a most momentous and vivid character in 
its relation to the history of Brittany and of 
France. To-day, as in other days, the town 
is avowedly Breton, as characteristically so as 
any of its size in the province. Much has been 
sacrificed to the god of progress, but enough of 
the ancient aspect of the place remains to recall 
its features of the time of Duguesclin and Clis- 
son, and the Counts of Montfort and of Blois, 
who proclaimed peace here in 1365. The enor- 
mous Saint Michael Gate is a great fortress- 
gateway, flanked with two cylindrical and con- 


Rambles in Brittany 

ical roofed towers of the time when feudalism 
ruled Brittany. 

" Guerande," says a Frenchman, " has not 
unlaced its corselet of stone since the fifteenth 
century." To-day, even, it is surrounded by 
its mediaeval ramparts in a manner like no other 
northern city in France, reminding one of those 

Ancient Fortifications of Guerande 

great walled cities of Aigues Mortes and Car- 
cassonne in Southern Gaul. 

This proud belt of machicolated ramparts, 
ten towers, and four great gates, and its deep, 
though now herbage-grown, moat is indeed one 
of the few monuments of the middle ages that 
remain to us in all their undisturbed splen- 

Guerande is not exactly a deserted village, 

Nantes to Vannes 127 

but its streets are, at midday, as lone and silent 
as though its population had not been in resi- 
dence for many months. This is a notable fea- 
ture in many small French towns during the 
hour and a half of the midday meal, but no- 
where else is it more to be remarked. 

The old parish Church of St. Aubin of Gue- 
rande has a collection of strangely carved cap- 
itals depicting horrible chimerical beasts, and 
the Chapel of Notre Dame de la Blanche — a 
fine work of the thirteenth century — is occa- 
sionally the scene of a marriage wherein the 
participants dress themselves in the old-time 
resplendent costumes. Such an occasion is 
rare, but should one be fortunate enough to 
meet with it, he will carry away still another 
memory of the mediaeval flavour still lingering 
about this somnolent little Breton city. 

Seaward beyond Guerande are only Bourg 
de Batz and Croisic, a gay little maritime city 
with a fine Gothic church of the highly orna- 
mented species, and many old, high-gabled 
houses of the variety which one sees frequently 
in stage settings. There are the local watering- 
places, too, of the Nantais, Ste. Marguerite 
and Baule, which have nothing of interest, how- 
ever, for the traveller who seeks to improve 
his mind and amuse himself simultaneously. 

128 Rambles in Brittany 

They are undoubtedly of great healthful and 
economic value to Nantes and St. Nazaire, how- 
ever, and they do not differ greatly from others 
of their class elsewhere. 

Again returning to the highroad, if one be 
travelling by road, " Vous prenez le chemin 
de Vennes " (Vannes) " par la Roche Bernard 
qui est aussy celuy de Rhennes et de Rhedon," 
wrote a sixteenth-century chronicler, and the 
direct road to-day lies the same way. It is 
known as " National Road " No. 165. 

Straight as the crow flies, but now up and 
now down, like all Breton roadways, this 
highway runs from Nantes to Quimper, 232 

The aspect of the country changes percep- 
tibly as one leaves Savenay on the way to the 
real Brittany. One crosses the Viiaine by the 
suspension bridge of La Eoche-Bernard, hung 
so perilously high that the great three-masted 
coasters may pass beneath. It is unlovely, but 
convenient, and saves a round of fifty kilo- 
metres on the journey, as one goes from Nantes 
to Vannes, so it may be pardoned. 

Northward lies the very ancient town of Cha- 
teaubriant, once the centre and life of Breton 
warfare and political strife. It was an an- 
cient barony of the county of Nantes, and owes 


Nantes to Vannes 129 

its name to the compounding of the word cha- 
teau with that of its original lord, who was 
named Brient. 

The ancient feudal fortress is now a ruin, 
but the castle built by John of Laval, governor 
of Brittany under Francis I., still serves the 
gendarmerie and the sous-prefecture offices. 
Above the portal of the colonnade one reads 
this inscription, which gives the date of the 
completion of the new castle : 




Each is most interesting, and so abundantly 
supplied with the lore of romance and reality, 
that one can only get his fill of studying it on 
the spot. 

The Church of St. Jean de Bere is a his- 
torical monument of almost the first rank, and 
the remains of the ancient Benedictine convent 
of St. Saveur date originally from a founda- 
tion of Brient I. 

On the thirteenth and fourteenth of Septem- 
ber of each year, on the plain behind the town, 
is held the celebrated Fair of Bere, one of those 
great combinations of marketing and merry- 

130 Rambles in Brittany 

making for which old France was noted, and 
which have so largely disappeared that to be 
a part and parcel of one is to have a most agree- 
able experience. Guibray, near Falaise, in 
Normandy, the " horse-fair " at Bernay, and 
the Fair de Bere are the most celebrated in 
these parts. 

It was in the neighbouring forest, as Pont- 
calec recites in the pages of " The Regent's 
Daughter " of Dumas, that he met his adven- 
ture with the " sorceress of Savenay." 

" I saw an enormous faggot walking along," 
said Pontcalec to his three Breton friends. 
" This did not surprise me, for our peasants 
carry such enormous faggots that they quite 
disappear under their load, but this faggot ap- 
peared from behind to move alone." 

A very good description this of what one 
may see even to-day, not only in this particular 
forest, but in any other in France. French fru- 
gality burns small sticks and twigs that in other 
lands would be made into a brushwood fire, 
and who shall not say that this trait, along 
with many others, does not contribute to the 
contentment of the French peasant? for he is 
content, if not amply endowed with this world's 
goods; marvellously so as compared with his 
English, Irish, or Italian brethren. There may 

Nantes to Vannes 131 

be other reasons, but his thrift is the principal 

Any one seeking change and rest will cer- 
tainly find what he is looking for at Chateau- 
briant. It is somnolently dull all through the 
week and doubly so on Sundays, but, in spite 
of all this, it is delightful, and a romantic nov- 
elist — or even a writer of romantic novels — 
could hardly find a more inspiring background 
than the country round about. 

There is a legend, too, in connection with 
the old chateau that might be worked up into 
a first-class romance, either for the stage or 
as a sword and cloak novel. After all, it is 
not exactly legend either, though it is almost 
too horrible to appear true. The reader may 
judge for himself, for here it is: 

In the old chateau lived for a time that un- 
fortunate Frances de Foix whom Francis I. 
had created Countess de Chateaubriant. To- 
day much of the luxury with which this mis- 
tress of the royal lover had surrounded her- 
self has disappeared, though enough remains, 
through restoration and preservation, to sug- 
gest the very splendid appointments of a 
former time. The young Frances de Foix, 
herself of the house that once possessed the 
crown of Navarre, married the old Count of 

132 Rambles in Brittany 

Laval, who soon brooded himself into a pas- 
sion of jealousy over the affair of his wife and 
her princely lover, particularly as it was said 
that she had gone to visit Francis while he was 
in prison after his capture at Pavia. " The 
countess found the king's prison very dismal," 
said the chroniclers of the time. This last act 
proved too much for the elderly spouse, who 
speedily ' ' shut up his young wife in a darkened 
and padded cell, and finally had her cut into 
pieces by two surgeons," as the story goes. 
After this horrible event the murderer fled the 
country, as might have been expected, in order, 
say the chroniclers again, " to escape the ven- 
geance of the king." 

Redon, just to the north, is an unattractive 
place. Most folk know it only as the railway 
official calls out: " Forty-five minutes' stop for 
luncheon, refreshments, and all the rest." 

Very amusing are these railway lunch-rooms 
seen throughout France. But withal they are 
most excellently appointed, although the pas- 
sengers, like their kind the world over, eat as 
though they had not a minute to lose, and have 
a good fifteen left on their hands when they 
have finished their repast. 

The meals are usually divided into three 
categories : the public table at a set price, the 

Nantes to Vannes 


table for the aristocracy at three francs, the 
table with set portions, the frugal repast at 
half as much, and the service " to order," 
which is the most costly of all. 

Ta.n dux. /Kencu>e«-. . 

Nothing is of an inferior quality, however, 
and, as all is served from the same kitchen, 
it is merely a question as to whether one will 
have more or less, or whether he will eat it off 
linen napery, with a napkin to tuck under his 
right ear, — as is the French commercial trav- 

134 Rambles in Brittany 

eller 's custom, — or whether he will be satis- 
fied with an oilcloth table-covering. The differ- 
ence is more apparent than real, for the " fru- 
gal repast " at a franc and a half is the three 
franc meal shorn of its trimmings; you get 
the same dishes and the same service. 

As if to ease the process, a stentorian rail- 
way hand puts his head in the door and shouts : 
u Ten minutes before the Vannes express 
starts! " and returns again at the end of the 
allotted time to give a final call: " Into the 
carriages, gentlemen! " It is much the same 
the world over, of course, but they are more 
polite in France, and the food is better of its 
kind, and much better served, two very appre- 
ciable differences. 

Eedon itself and its great open square, on 
which are the railway station, the hotels, and 
the gaunt, lone, dismembered tower of the 
Church of St. Sauveur, is by no means attract- 
ive. The square is bare of trees, and in the 
summer the sun beats down upon the frequent- 
ers of the terrace coffee-rooms of the hotels 
in a manner which makes one wonder why they 
do not move off and seek a shady spot else- 

The indifference shown by the natives of 
certain localities for the pelting sunlight, which 

Nantes to Vannes 135 

makes some of us think of cabbage leaves for 
our hats and " gin rickeys " for our stomachs, 
is curious. The Neapolitan prefers to loll 
about in the blazing Italian sun, and says that 
no one but an Englishman or a dog ever seeks 
the shade. The citizen of Redon is like him, 
and does not care who knows it, and his sun- 
light, though it comes to earth some hundreds 
of miles farther north, appears to be of the 
same caloric value. 

Redon was an old monastic foundation of 
St. Convoion's, of the Vannes church. He built 
the Abbey of St. Sauveur, of which the present 
church and its lone tower are later additions. 
The main body of the present edifice dates in 
part from the time of the foundation, though 
its fabric was frequently added to and restored 
up to the twelfth century, from which period 
it may really be said to date. The central tower 
of this church is said to be the only Roman- 
esque feature of its class in all Brittany, and 
is certainly one of the most sturdy anywhere to 
be seen. 

Another remarkable feature is a chapel, the 
walls loopholed and machicolated, and built by 
the Abbe Yves in the fifteenth century; to-day 
it serves as the sacristy. 

The high altar, a rich and imposing affair, 

136 Rambles in Brittany- 

was the gift of the great Richelieu when he 
was in possession of the revenues of the abbey. 
The city was surrounded by a fortification or 
wall by the Abbot John of Treal in 1364, and 
in 1422 John V., Count of Brittany, established 
a mint here. 

Questembert, westward toward Vannes, is a 
town of four thousand or so inhabitants, and 
has many interesting old houses, but otherwise 
is devoid of attractions either for the lover of 
architectural monuments or for worshippers at 
religious or other shrines. It is, however, the 
place for holding many local fairs or markets 
of considerable magnitude, where one may 
make practically his first acquaintance with the 
Breton peasant, becoiffed and beribboned as he, 
or she, only is on native heath. 

Rochefort-en-Terre is also a chief place; as 
its population numbers less than seven hundred 
souls, it cannot be considered as even a local 
metropolis. Its situation and its fine, though 
not stupendously remarkable, architectural glo- 
ries make up for what it lacks in the way of 
population. It sits high on a hillside dominat- 
ing the little river Arz, a confluent of the 
Vilaine. Its name is due to the founder of a 
chateau built here in the thirteenth century 
and destroved bv the Catholic Leaguers in 1594. 

Nantes to Vannes 137 

though it was afterwards rebuilt and again 
destroyed, this time by Revolutionary fire- 
brands, in 1793. The ruins of this chateau are 
to-day very satisfactory indeed as ruins, 
though they include few or none of the archi- 
tectural details with which the work must once 
have been endowed. The lower courses of the 
walls are there, remains of five towers, and an 
ancient well, with a curb of sculptured granite. 

The ancient collegiate Church of Notre Dame 
de la Tronchaye is an ecclesiastical monument 
of high rank, for a town like Rochefort-en- 
Terre, and is an altogether lovable old shrine, 
with admirable sculptures in stone and some 
curious wooden statues, in the interior, said 
originally to have been those of Claude of 
Rieux and Suzanne of Bourbon, Lord and 
Lady de Rochefort. These statues are now 
converted into a St. Joseph and a Virgin. This 
may or may not have been a sacrilege ; it cer- 
tainly was a desecration. The ancient city 
gates remain, and there are numerous fifteenth 
and sixteenth century houses. 

The country round about Rochefort-en-Terre 
was brought into vogue by the landscape- 
painter, Pelouze, some years ago, and other 
artists have followed in his wake, making an 
ever growing artist colony in the summer-time. 

138 Rambles in Brittany 

Studies and sketches decorate the dining-room 
of the Hotel Lecadre in a surprising number; 
at least surprising to one who comes upon this 
unassuming little town and its excellent, before 
named, little hotel while journeying to Finis- 

Still going toward Vannes one passes Elven, 
near which is the Manoir of Kerlean, the fam- 
ily estate of the Descartes. The birth certifi- 
cate of the Descartes is in the records in the 
mayor's office. 

Three kilometres to the north are the re- 
mains of the ancient fortress of Largoet, whose 
tower, known as the Tour d 'Elven, dates from 
the fifteenth century. This tower has been 
called the most beautiful castle keep in all 
Brittany, and so it is if one take into con- 
sideration its moss-and-ivy-grown walls and its 
general eerie espect, heightened perceptibly if 
seen by moonlight. This high, majestic tower 
of a feudal castle, whose other members have 
practically disappeared, is also a literary 
shrine of high rank, inasmuch as Octave Feuil- 
let has placed here some of the most moving 
scenes in his " Story of a Poor Young Man.'" 
Perhaps this true romance is not so well known 
to the present generation as to a former, but 
it should be, and accordingly the clue is here 

Tour d'Elven 

Nantes to Vannes 139 

given, and it should have a double significance 
so far as travellers in Brittany are concerned. 

One enters Vannes, if it be a holiday or a 
Sunday, amid a gaiety and uproar that is ap- 
parently inexplicable. To be sure Vannes is the 
metropolis of the Morbihan, but one does not 
look for such continuous gaiety on the part of 
a people supposed to be wholly devout and not 
very rich, as possessors of this world's goods 
count their gains. Devoutness need not neces- 
sarily mean glumness, and so as it all seems, 
around Vannes at least, to be for the general 
good, one is not sorry to have his first intro- 
duction to a great Breton town in a way so 

Really it is a sort of small gaiety, and strictly 
local, which goes on here. There is nothing of 
the riotous order, but it is all very gay, never- 

The simple folk of the Morbihan, who have 
crowded into Vannes for the day, are as inter- 
ested and amused with a hurdy-gurdy Punch 
and Judy show, a travelling circus, or a merry- 
go-round as if they were the latest distractions 
of Paris. Meanwhile one seeks his hotel, and 
there comes another surprise. 



The " Golfe " or Bay of Morbihan is one 
of those great landlocked havens in which the 
whole Breton coast abounds ; its islands are as 
many as the days of the year, as the natives 
have it. 

Morbihan itself is as much sea as land. The 
tides rise to a great height along this whole 
southern coast of Brittany, and in the Bay of 
Morbihan they have full play. 

The metropolis of Lower Morbihan is 
Vannes, which the railway porters shout out 
at you, as you descend from the train, as 

Leaving the station, one threads his way 
through whole batteries of laundresses, their 
gull-winged head-dress nodding in rhythm with 
the beating of their paddles, a most picturesque 
sight, but a process which works disaster to 
one's clothes, destroying pearl buttons, and 
causing mysterious small holes to appear in 


The Morbihan 141 

the most inconvenient places. An accompani- 
ment of song always goes with, these shattering 
and battering exercises. At Vannes, according 
to Theodore Botrel, it runs like this: 

" Pan ! pan ! pan ! 
Ma Doue* ! 
Comme la langue maudite 
Marche bien au vieux lavoit. 
Pan ! pan ! pan ! 
Vite ! vite ! 
Plus vite que le battoir ! " 

It is the day of the local fair, the chief arti- 
cle of commerce being, it would seem, pigs, 
as at Limerick. At any rate, there are hun- 
dreds, if not thousands, of little porkers, who 
have just put foot to earth, as their venders tell 
one; their own voices, too, strident and high 
pitched, announce the same thing. 

Vannes, truth to tell, is not much of a capi- 
tal, but it is a highly interesting and pictur- 
esque old town, with manners and customs 
quite different from those of any of its neigh- 

The chief characteristics of the place seem 
to be pointed roofs of red and moss-grown tiles 
and walls of blue granite. One can almost im- 
agine that Botrel chose it as the scene of the 
stanza : 


Rambles in Brittany 

Qui done chante sous nos fenetres 
Ces myst^rieuses chansons ? 
Ce sont les ames des ancetres 
Qui reconnaissent leurs maisons ! " 

Market-woman, Vannes 

There is a blending of the seashore and the 
open country here which is scarcely found in 
any other part of France. In some respects 
it is like Holland, and again it is not, for it 
lacks the web of canals with which that country 
is interwoven. 

The Morbihan 


The whole bay — * * Le Golf e ' ' — forms a 
dooryard for Vannes, and a yacht or a boat 

-)vtar Vannes- n^ay 1 J 03 

The Country near Vannes 

is as much an appendage of the Vannes house- 
hold of the better class as a dog or cat. 

Vannes, the capital of the Morbihan, is a city 
of 23,000 souls, and has two great modern, up- 
to-date hotels. Choose one, and you will " like 

144 Rambles in Brittany 

the other best," as Bubinstein said to the 
young pianist, who was to play two of his com- 
positions to the master. He said this, be it 
recalled, after he had heard only the first one. 
Not that Vannes hotels are really bad. Oh, no. 
Truth to tell, they are excellent in their way, 
but they are unconvincing. 

When one is here, in the midst of a new, 
strange set of conditions of life, he looks for 
something characteristic about his inn. If he 
find it, he is content ; if he do not, all the smug- 
ness and propriety of imported manners and 
customs in the dinner service will not make 
him so. The true traveller prefers taking his 
chances with the native dishes to trifling with 
Paris culinary fashions at the hands of a Bre- 
ton peasant-chef, — if that is the exact classi- 
fication one ought to give the cooks of Vannes. 

To enter Vannes by road, one has come down 
a precipitous descent to the sea-level, and ac- 
cordingly rises again to an equal height when 
he leaves, for Vannes is the great tidewater 
port for the whole of the south coast of Brit- 
tany between Lorient and St. Nazaire. The 
traffic of the bays of Morbihan and Quiberon 
is considerable, and the ceaseless coming and 
going of many small steamers and sailing-craft 
is unlike traffic elsewhere. 

The Morbihan 145 

The great bay is an inland sea almost sur- 
rounded by the jutting peninsulas which ter- 
minate on either side of the narrow channel 
in Pointe de Kerpenhir and Port Navalo. The 
name is compounded of two Breton words, mor 
(sea) and bihan (little). The flat tree-grown 
islands of this little sea make vistas and groups 
of a unique character, and to learn the bay well 
by a voyage among them in a flat-bottomed 
skimming-dish of a craft, or by the more facile 
motor-launch, is a thoroughly agreeable experi- 

The chief of the islands are the Monks Isle 
and the He d'Arz, but the enfolding shores of 
the mainland, with its little seaside-farmyard 
villages, have the same characteristics. 

On the little passenger steamers, which ply 
between the islands and the mainland, one 
meets a queer company of peasant-folk in coifs 
and round velvet or straw caps, fowls, sheep, 
goats, and an occasional overgrown calf. 

Such of the islands of the bay as are popu- 
lated, and many of them are, were colonized 
from the neighbouring country, and the women 
in particular are physically admirable. They 
still wear the distinctive costume of the coun- 
try in a spirit uncontaminated by the electric 
lights and railways of Vannes. Custom in 

146 Rambles in Brittany 

these isles allows the young women to demand 
the hand of a likely swain in marriage, and the 
plan seems to work well. The population seems 
generally happy, prosperous, and contented. 
What better is expected as the outcome of 
marriage ? 

The climate of all the Morbilian shore is mild 
and tranquil at all seasons of the year, and one 
may sit beside the open window of his hotel 
dining-room throughout the year. The mimosa 
flowers in winter, and palms, rose-trees, camel- 
lias, and fig-trees prosper exceedingly in the 
open air. 

Vannes was the ancient capital of the Veneti, 
a strong coast tribe of other days which re- 
sisted the invasion of Caesar and triumphed 
against his fleet a half -century or more before 
the Christian era. 

When finally the Eomans came, they made 
Vannes the centre of six great highways which 
radiated to Corseul, to Angers, to Hennebont, 
to Locmariaquer, to Eennes, and to Nantes. 
From this its importance may be inferred. 

Christianity came to Vannes in 465, when 
St. Perpetus, Metropolitan of Tours, conse- 
crated St. Patern as first bishop. By the sixth 
century it had become an independent county, 
but was joined again to the duchy of Brittany 

The Morbihan 


in 990. John IV. established his habitual resi- 
dence at Vannes, and constructed the celebrated 
Chateau de PHermine, with its constable's 
tower so famous in the history of Brittany as 
the place in which he imprisoned Clisson, re- 
leasing him only after the payment of a heavy 

The history of Vannes and the Morbihan is 
too long and stormy to be even outlined here, 

Tout SV Tra.n t o,s 

Ancient City Walls, Vannes 

but there are still many remains and memories 
which will serve as a foundation upon which to 
build the fabric anew. 

The port is most interesting, with its varied 
traffic and its great ships of nearly a thousand 
tons which thread their way up through the 
islands of the gulf, bringing lumber, coals, and 
all the small cargoes of a great coasting port. 

At Vannes one may see a huge parti-col- 
oured handkerchief of the bandanna variety 

148 Rambles in Brittany 

waving before a narrow doorway. It is the 
" shawl," the sign of the hair-cutter, who will 
exchange its fellow for your hair, if you be a 
Breton girl with dark brown tresses, or even 
an elderly person whose hair is iron-gray. In 
Lower Brittany, on summer fair-days, the 
dealer in hair makes a round exceedingly prof- 
itable to his establishment, though at each stop- 
ping-place it leaves a hundred or more young 
girls shorn of their crowning glory, — a loss 
which they successfully cover with their dain- 
tily ironed head-dress. 

The chief of the sights and shrines of the 
neighbourhood of Vannes are St. Gildas de 
Khuis and the Chateau of Suscino. The former 
is revered for its sixth-century monastic foun- 
dation of St. Gildas, called the wise, and for 
some time in the twelfth century governed by 
the famous Abelard. The ancient abbatial 
church is now the parish church. It dates from 
the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries, and is 
an unusual work in many respects, and rising 
to a height of grandeur seldom seen outside the 
larger Breton cities and towns. 

The castle of Suscino — or more properly the 
ruin — is a wonderful thirteenth-century struc- 
ture on the water's edge, built by John the 
Bed-haired. It follows the best Gothic tradi- 

Chateau of Suscino 

The Morbihan 149 

tions of its time, and its crenelated walls and 
towers, the latter now nnroofed, are perfect 
of their kind. It was captured by Charles of 
Blois, and retaken by his Montfort rival in 
1364. An English garrison occupied it in 1373. 
Finally it was given by Anne of Brittany to 
John of Chalons, Prince of Orange, from whom 
it was taken by Francis I., and he presented 

it to Frances of Foix, Lady of Chateaubriant, 
as she then was. The rest of its history is 
equally varied, and as important as becomes 
so magnificent a mediaeval fortress. 

In form the chateau is an irregular pentagon, 
perhaps modified from its original plan in 1420. 
Its orchid machicolations are remarkable both 
for their beauty and their utility. Seven tow- 
ers, of which six remain, originally flanked its 

150 Rambles in Brittany 

gates and walls. The new tower is a fine cylin- 
drical keep of the fifteenth century. Over the 
entrance one still reads a tablet inscription as 
follows : 


Le duc Arthur III. 
le 24 AoCt, 1393 

North of Vannes are Ploermel and Josselin, 
two places which no one should leave out of 
the itinerary of Brittany. Neither is easily ac- 
cessible by rail, but both are conveniently 
reached by road. 

Ploermel has a railway connection with the 
line to Brest by way of Rennes, and another 
with the line to Brest by way of Vannes, but 
Josselin is off the beaten track, and one makes 
his way from Ploermel by omnibus or in a car- 

Ploermel and its " pardon " have inspired 
an opera, one of Meyerbeer's most celebrated 
scores, known to English music lovers as " Di- 
norah," but in French called " The Pardon of 
Ploermel." The town owes its name to an 
anchorite who, in the sixth century, retired 
here to a hermitage. 

The history of Ploermel during the middle 

The Morbihan 151 

ages was stormy. It was here that the edict 
expelling the Jews from Brittany was issued 
in 1240. In 1273 the Comte de Richemont — 
upon his return from the Crusades — founded 
at Ploermel the first Carmelite convent known 
to France. This ancient convent, situated with- 
out the walls, escaped from the disasters which 
caused the city to be burned in 1347. The Cal- 
vinists came in time to have a temple here, in 
which they held two synods of their church. 

To-day Ploermel is a sleepy, old-world town, 
with two good inns, and not much except the 
fragmentary reminders of old walls and build- 
ings to remind one of the parts played in other 

The Church of St. Armel, a reconstruction of 
1511 - 1602, is in parts highly decorated with 
stone sculptures and strange images, recalling, 
says an ingenious, but profane, Frenchman, 
the " pleasantries of Rabelais." Of course he 
refers to the players on the bagpipes, the man 
sewing up the mouth of his wife, and the wife 
tearing off her husband's cap. Certainly these 
quaint figures are not born of religious sym- 
bolism, unless, by chance, that the symbolism 
of the religious builders of Ploermel differs 
greatly from that of others elsewhere. 

152 Rambles in Brittany 

There are still remains of PloermePs old city 
walls dating from the fifteenth century, and 
also a fragment of a tower. 

Near by, on the road to Josselin, is a simple 
granite shaft perpetuating the famous " Battle 
of the Thirty, ' ' celebrated in history. 

According to Froissart, Robert of Beau- 
manoir, chatelain of Josselin, one day provoked 
an English captain — Bromborough — who 
was encamped at Ploermel, and challenged him 
to battle; thirty of his men against thirty 
Frenchmen. At the first attack four French- 
men and two English fell. Then the combat be- 
gan again with swords, battle-axes, and lances. 
Eight English only finally remained, including 
Bromborough himself; all the others were 
killed or taken prisoners and led away to the 
dungeons of the Chateau de Josselin. 

Froissart writes elsewhere of this same en- 
gagement: " Twenty-two years after the bat- 
tle of the thirty, I saw at the table of King 
Charles of France one of the combatants, a 
knight called Yvain Charnel. His face showed 
that the battle had been hot, for it was scarred 
all over." 

This wayside column or pyramid just off the 
route bears the following inscription : 





mm I 




The Morbihan 153 

A la Memoire Perpetuelle 


que Mgr le Marechal de Beau Manoir 
a Gaignee dans ce Lieu l'An 1530 

Josselin is now chief town of a commune of 
2,500 inhabitants ; it has a fine mediaeval cha- 
teau yet inhabitable, two ecclesiastical monu- 
ments of more than unusual excellence, and a 
rather shaky and ill-situated inn (Hotel de 
France), which makes up in the abundance and 
excellence of its fare for what it lacks in the 
way of electric lights and modern sanitary ar- 

The first houses of Josselin were grouped 
around a miraculous effigy of the Virgin, known 
as Notre Dame du Roncier, because it was 
found beneath a blackberry-bush. To-day 
Notre Dame du Roncier, the church and the 
chapel and its statue of the Virgin, are ven- 
erated highly by the faithful who make the 
pilgrimage to the shrine on the Monday and 
Tuesday of Pentecost and on the eighth of Sep- 
tember, the birthday of the Virgin, when the 
remains of her ancient statue are shown. This 
effigy was broken and burned in the Revolution- 
ary fury of 1793, but a modern replica was 
crowned, in the Chapel Notre Dame du Ron- 


Rambles in Brittany 

cier, in 1868. The settlement which grew up 
around the shrine was surrounded by a pro- 
tecting wall by the Count of Guethenoc in 1008, 


Shrine of St. Etienne, Josselin 

and in 1030 it was given the name of Josselin, 
after his son. 

In the thirteenth century, the county of Por- 
hoet, in which Josselin was situated, passed 

The Morbihan 155 

to the house of Fougeres, and its affairs were 
varied and involved until Peter of Valois, 
Count of Alencon, sold it to the Constable Oli- 
ver of Clisson, whose daughter brought it in 
marriage to the Rohans, to whose descendants 
it still belongs. 

In the Church of Our Lady of the Black- 
berry-bush is a remarkable tomb placed in the 
Chapel of St. Marguerite — the former ora- 
tory of the constable — to Oliver of Clisson and 
Marguerite of Rohan. 

The castle rests on a rocky foundation be- 
side the river Oust, and its front is most im- 
posing. Three towers with conical roofs flank 
the riverside, and are an expression of the best 
fortress-chateau building of its era (twelfth 
century), severe and gaunt in every line, and 
yet beautifully planned. The interior court 
takes on quite a different aspect, that of the 
" architecture civile " of the third ogival pe- 
riod, when Renaissance forms and details had 
crept in, almost destroying Gothic lines. 

The window openings of the two stories have 
an admirable decorative effect, as beautiful as 
those of Blois and very nearly equalling those 
of Chambord. 

An open gallery above the windows is a 
charming additional interpolation, and between 

156 Rambles in Brittany- 

each window is carved " A Plus," the device 
of the distinguished family of the Rohans, who 
built this part of the structure. A keep and 
some later walls and parapets were added by 
Clisson somewhere about the year 1400, but 
most of them disappeared in 1629, when the 
chateau ceased to be a stronghold of the 

In the main it is a twelfth and thirteenth 
century structure which is so admirably pre- 
served to-day. One may visit the interior, 
through the courtesy of the family in residence, 
and, though it may be somewhat disconcerting 
to walk through these historic apartments of 
another day and see such modern innovations 
as electric bells and other appurtenances of a 
late civilization, the experience is, after all, 
a peep behind the curtain, and this the up-to- 
date motor-car tourist always appreciates 

The great hall, the library, with its magnifi- 
cent chimneypiece and its cipher, " A Plus,'' 
carved in stone, and the dining-room orna- 
mented with a modern equestrian statue of 
Clisson, by Fremiet, are the chief apartments 

In the court within the walls is an ancient 


Chateau de Josselin 

The Morbihan 157 

well surrounded by an elaborate forged iron 

One takes the road again, by the way of Loc- 
mine and Baud, for Auray, the most dainty 
and charming of all Breton market-towns, pass- 
ing through a delightfully picturesque country 
of rolling hills and deep valleys and fir forests, 
studded here and there with lakelets. 

Locmine, which derives its name from Loc- 
menec'h (monk's cell), was the site of a mon- 
astery founded in the sixth century by St. Co- 
lomban. It was burned by the Normans in the 
ninth century, after the pleasant custom of 
these invaders, and reestablished in 1006 by 
Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany, as a priory at- 
tached to the Abbey of St. Gildas of Ehuis. 

In the present church of Locmine is a chapel 
dedicated to St. Colomban, containing a paint- 
ing representing scenes from the life of the 
saint; others are carried out in the coloured 
glass of the windows. 

One reads the following, — a supplication on 
behalf of the dangerous madmen who at one 
time occupied two cells beneath the pavement: 

" St. Colomban, patron of Looming, pray for us ! 
St. Colomban, help of idiots, pray for us ! " 

Behind the church is an elaborate ossuary 
dating from Renaissance times, when these ad- 

158 Rambles in Brittany 

juncts to burial-grounds were so plentifully 
scattered over Brittany. 

Baud has an enormous parish church of the 
time of Louis XIV., with a fine Gothic arcade 
and a great crucifix standing beside the outer 
wall. Aside from this, there is not much else 
here to attract one, unless he be a pilgrim af- 
fected with disease of the eye. If he be, and 
if he bathe in the " Fontaine de la clarte," and 
the fates be propitious, and he be not too far 
gone otherwise, and everything else be as it 
should, he will be cured forthwith — perhaps. 

It is unkind to scoff at these miraculous 
fountains scattered here and there over the 
world, of course, but one has seen so many in- 
dividual cases that were not benefited, and 
heard of so many that were, that one may be 
justified in a little skepticism. 

To Auray is twenty kilometres by a road 
which gently rolls down a matter of 150 metres 
of elevation until it reaches sea-level at the 
little market-town seaport known in Breton as 



Auray is the real centre from which to make 
the round of the vast collection of relics of the 
long lost civilization of Morbihan. 

Many have attempted to explain the signifi- 
cance of these rude stone monuments. Some 
have said that the famous avenues of Carnac 
were the streets of one of Caesar's camps, its 
roofs having fallen and mouldered away, and 
that the famous " Merchants' Table " at Loc- 
mariaquer was an ancient druidical altar, to 
which the helpless were led to be sacrificed. 

All this and much more is for the antiquary 
alone, and a nodding acquaintance with the his- 
tory of these curious stone formations or erec- 
tions is about all for which most travellers will 

He who arrives at Auray on a market-day 
will seem to himself to come into a region where 
every one speaks the Breton tongue. Not all, 


160 Rambles in Brittany 

of course, for French is now compulsory with 
the school-children, but the frequency of it here 
in the booths and stalls in and around Auray's 
lovely old timbered market-house is greatly to 
be remarked. 

It is a question if this same market-house be 
not quite the most theatrical-looking thing of 
its kind in all France. It is for all the world 
like a successful piece of stage carpentry, with 
a great spectacular stairway running up into 
its garret above, quite in the manner that one 
has seen upon the stage over and over again, 
when the heroine or the villain — it does not 
much matter which — escapes from his, or her, 
pursuers. Low built, heavily raftered, and 
with a leaky roof allowing rays of sunlight to 
dribble through into the gloom within in a most 
entrancing manner, this old market-house is 
the centre of the life and activity of the place 
for fifty-two Mondays in each year. 

Within and without the walls of the market- 
house is gathered the most varied conglomera- 
tion of wares imaginable. Beside the draper's 
counter are baskets of vegetables, eggs, or fish. 
A poor little calf, tied by the legs and lying at 
full length on the ground, keeps company with 
his former farmyard neighbours, the ducks and 
geese, but on either side is a second-hand col- 

Auray and the Monuments 161 

lection of ironmongery and old shoes, and it 
should be the envy of the provident, for two 
sous buy anything in the collection. 

The country-side Breton peasant who comes 
to Auray on a market-day is the glass of fash- 
ion of his race, his jacket embroidered in' braid 
of gay colours, and velvet bands on his sleeves 
and collar. His shirt is high and stiffly 
starched, and his felt hat or cap heavily hung 
with velvet ribbons. The womenfolk are clad 
in equally spectacular fashion, with high white 
caps and full-sleeved bodices, each with a black 
velvet band around the sleeve, and full gath- 
ered skirts, spoiling all symmetry of form as 
nature made it. 

The history of Auray, from the days when 
it belonged to John of Auray, grand huntsman 
of Brittany, has left its mark in the annals of 
the country in no indefinite manner. John of 
Montfort, the Counts of Blois, Duguesclin, and 
many others stalk through its pages of history 
until finally, in the wars of religions, it was 
held by the Catholic army and the Spaniards 
in turn. Its old chateau, whose foundations 
now form the fine Promenade du Loe, dates 
from the eleventh century; and it was recon- 
structed and enlarged two centuries later, 
finally to disappear, as the result of an order 


Rambles in Brittany 

for its demolition given by the castle destroyer, 
Henry II., in 1558. 

The port of Auray is more daintily and 

Shrine of St. JRoch, Auray 

charmingly environed than most seaports. As 
it lies between the wooded, deep-cut banks of 
the little river, its intermingling of ships and 
salt water, and country-side, and sailor lads 
and rustic maidens, and all the motley popula- 

Auray and the Monuments 163 

tion of the little town, is a marvellous thing to 

The smack of antiquity is about it all, and 
the historic legend of its shrine of St. Anne — 
which lives as vividly to-day as ever it lived — 
most touchingly connects the present with the 

One of the most celebrated, and certainly the 
most largely attended, of all the " pardons " 
of Brittany is that held at St. Anne of Auray, 
though Auray itself is something more than 
a mere place of religious pilgrimage, and a 
good deal more than a wayside station on the 
railway line where one leaves the train and 
hires a carriage for Carnac and Quiberon, 
though apparently not many tourists know it. 
In the first place, it is one of the largest and 
most characteristic of all the little Breton 
market-towns, is a deep-water port of a con- 
siderable size, and has a hotel which supplies 
one with the most ample and delightful meals 
that the traveller will find westward of Nantes. 

This may be a mundane standard by which 
to judge of an old-world town's appeal to in- 
terest, but it is all-sufficient, and the most mar- 
vellous attractions the world may have to offer 
will hardly be appreciated by a travel-worn and 
hungry traveller, and such should plan to ar- 

164 Rambles in Brittany 

rive in town for the Monday dinner at the 
Golden Lion ; also he should not hurry through 
the town merely for the sake of visiting the 
shrine of St. Anne, which is tawdry enough in 
its general aspect, except when it is thronged 
on the great days of the " pardon,' ' March 
seventh and July twenty-fifth. 

The great festival of the Pardon of St. Anne 
of Auray is held in July, on the birthday of St. 
Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary. Its 
origin dates back to 1623, when a peasant of 
the country-side, one Yves Nicolazic, was com- 
manded by St. Anne, who appeared to him in 
a vision, to found a chapel in her honour in 
the fields of Bocenno, where, she said, an an- 
cient shrine had existed nearly a thousand 
years earlier. Guided by explicit directions 
and a mysterious star, Yves found a precious 
image, which ultimately was transported and 
set up anew in the church built at Auray. This 
miraculous statue was lost during the Bevolu- 
tion, but a fragment was preserved and is in- 
cluded in the present shrine, which is sur- 
rounded by a modern edifice dating from the 
mid-nineteenth century. 

Near by is the miraculous fountain, which, 
like others of its kind elsewhere, is exceedingly 
erratic as to the miracles it performs. It was 

Auray and the Monuments 165 

beside this fountain, then but a humble little 
rock-gushing spring, but now neatly set about 
with a concrete basin, that St. Anne first ap- 
peared to Yves. 

Each year, by train, by boat, by country cart, 
and on foot, pilgrims come from miles around, 
many of them camping out the night by the 
roadside, all, in spite of the solemn purport of 
their pilgrimage, in the gayest spirits. There 
is always a certain amount of discord to be 
encountered at all these great festivals, — beg- 
gars, deformed or ill with incurable disease, 
crippled or what not, all expectant of reaping 
a thriving harvest from the simple-minded fre- 
quenters of the shrine. Whether deserving or 
not, all of them appear to receive liberal alms, 
for the custom of giving alms is as much a 
component part of the event as any of the other 
observances, nor is it ever frowned upon or 
curtailed by the religious or civic authorities. 

The order of the day includes the massing 
of the pilgrims at open-air services, the placing 
of candles before the shrine, the inspection of 
the relics of the saint, the drinking of, or bath- 
ing in, the miraculous fountain, and sermons 
and admonitions uncounted, all in the Breton 
tongue, incomprehensible to outsiders, but to 
be taken as salutary. The great feature is the 

166 Rambles in Brittany 

procession of priests and pilgrims, the former 
in their brilliant vestments, many of the latter 
bearing tall, gaudily coloured candles and gay 
silken banners. Grouped around each banner 
will be found the Breton men and women from 
a particular section, each group differently clad 
from those of other sections, but all gay with 
brilliant colouring. 

" Saint Anne, pray for us! " is the cry one 
would hear were it in English, or " Saint e 
Anne, priez pour nous " in French; in Breton, 
its sadness is indescribable, more like the wail 
of a banshee than anything else. 

Usually the Bishop of Vannes delivers an 
exhortation, in the Breton tongue, of course, 
from the top of the Holy Steps, after which the 
throng — or, at least, such as are truly and 
sincerely devout — climb to the top on their 
knees. According to the printed notice at the 
foot, each step mounted on the bended knee, 
accompanied of course by a prayer, is good for 
a nine years' absolution of a soul in purgatory. 
In the cloister behind the church is a great cru- 
cifix, in which the peasant pilgrims stick pins, 
each recording a prayer said or a vow made. 

On the night of July twenty-sixth, St. Anne 's 
Day, a grand torchlight procession marches. 
The " Marche aux Flambeaux," a celebrated 

Auray and the Monuments 167 

painting by Jules Breton, now owned in Amer- 
ica, well shows the effect of one of these great 
demonstrations, except that it lacks the weird- 
ness of the sombre background of night it- 

This ends the great days of the pardon, but 
throughout the year pilgrims make their way 
to the shrine to say a prayer, or to drink or 
bathe in the waters of the fountain, or perhaps 
to carry a jugful home to some bedridden mem- 
ber of their families. 

Among the offerings in fulfilment of vows 
made at the shrine of Ste. Anne d 'Auray are 
a number of very ancient inscriptions, such as 
the following best illustrate: 

" William Genin, bitten by a mad dog, vowed 
himself to St. Anne and obtained a perfect cure 
in 1631." 

" Helen Sausse, abandoned by her mother, 
vomited a two-headed snake and recovered her 

On the way from Auray to Plouharnel, Car- 
nac, Quiberon, and Locmariaquer are worth 
one day or three, accordingly as one may feel 
inclined. The distance is not great; a dozen 
kilometres will cover the journey out, and a 
little more circuitous return route will take in 
a half-dozen or more old centres of a civiliza- 


Rambles in Brittany 

tion of which all knowledge is lost in the night 
of time. 

Whatsoever the great megalithic monuments 
of Carnac may mean, certain it is that they tell 
— or could tell if one could feel sure he under- 
stood it correctly — a story quite out of keep- 
ing with the manners and customs of to-day. 

The Lines of Carnac 

Like the tall, gaunt windmills plentifully be- 
sprinkled hereabouts, these great stones rear 
their heads skyward in fashion most strange. 
Long rows of them, like files of soldiers, or 
like the trees of the forest, stand to-day for 
the curious to marvel at, as they stood so long- 
ago that their origin is not to be definitely 

Of the Lines of Carnac, as the strange popu- 


Auray and the Monuments 169 

lation of tombstone-looking monoliths is known, 
much has been written by antiquaries, archae- 
ologists, and geologists ever .since the tide of 
travel set this way. What these stones actually 
mean — some thousands of them in all, set out 
in regular rows — only a vain, presumptuous 
person could answer. They offer a prospect 
of a strange grandeur, for they really are 
grand, if not stupendous, and, as they stretch 
away in long, silent lines almost to the horizon, 
they are as phantoms looming to-day out of 
the mysterious past to which they belong. 

There are three great companies of these 
menhirs here. Those of Menec, composed of 
1,169 members in eleven ranks; of Kermario, 
1,120 members in ten rows; and of Kerlescan, 
thirteen rows made up of 579 individual stones. 

Carnac has another ancient monument in the 
tumulus of Mont St. Michel, which, like other 
elevations bearing the same name, is a sky- 
nearing little peak of land which supposedly 
formed a firm earthly foothold for the arch- 

The parish church of Carnac is dedicated 
to St. Comely, who, according to legend, lived 
in the neighbourhood and was many times 
saved from an untimely death by the oxen of 
the region. Just how this was accomplished 


Rambles in Brittany 

no one seems to know, but enough of the tra- 
dition still lives to inspire a grand celebration 
on the saint 's day, the thirteenth of September, 
when many animals are offered up to him, as 

Map of Carnac and the Surrounding Country 

one learns from the kindly, tall-coifed guar- 
dian of the church. 

The painted ceilings of the Church of St. Cor- 
nely are remarkable works of art, if not for 
their excellence, at least for their ingenuity. 
The north porch is an astonishing Renaissance 
addition, which, from its curves and curls, 

Auray and the Monuments 171 

would seem to be the precursor of " I' art nou~ 


To the westward of Carnac, at the shore- 
end of the peninsula of Quiberon, is Plouharnel, 
another centre around which are grouped many 
curious stone monuments. 

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Flowers is 
a singularly beautiful small church built of the 
granite of the country. It contains a notable 
bas-relief in alabaster in the form of what is 
known in ecclesiastical art as a " Jesse Tree." 

Just why the promoters of a railway had the 
temerity to push it to the very end of the snake- 
like peninsula of Quiberon is a problem which 
will ever remain unsolved so far as the general 
public is concerned. Stendhal has written some 
gloomy views of scenes enacted at Fort Penthi- 
evre, half-way down the peninsula, and Victor 
Hugo wrote of the same times (now a hundred 
years ago) : 

" Mourir plus d'un soldat a son prince fidele, 
un pretre fidele a son Dieu." 

The aspect of this long, narrow peninsula is 
everywhere the same, from its juncture with 
the mainland to the sandy point fifteen kilo- 
metres away, from which one sees the flash of 
the twinkling light on Belle He. 

Quiberon has what may almost be called an 

172 Rambles in Brittany 

ideal hotel, except that it is unworldly and not 
the least new. A travelling salesman, whom 
we met at Auray, told us that it was kept by 
an old cook, one of the Vatels of the stove. 
Simple and modest, but clean withal as the 
proverbial door-step of Holland, it is one of 
those inns that the traveller loves out of sheer 
inability to find fault with it. 

Quiberon has two ports, Port Haliguen and 
Port Maria, both in danger of becoming popu- 
lar seaside resorts, for the guide-books are al- 
ready describing them as places where the 
sojourn will be agreeable for persons of simple 

The fish-market of Quiberon is one, if not 
the chief, of its sights for the student of man- 
ners and customs. " Cinq lubines pour douze 
francs et deux cent quarante maquereaux pour 
trente-un francs " was the way the market ran 
on the occasion of the visit of the author, all 
of which argues that Quiberon is a good place 
for the fish to come. 

The lobsters, too, are a great feature of the 
trade here, and are sold by their length, meas- 
uring from the eye up to the first scale of their 
tails. An average price is rather over four 
sous, and Paris takes the best of the lot. 
They travel first-class and by express, the lob- 


Auray and the Monuments 173 

sters of Quiberon, when they take their first 
and last voyage to the " shining city," and 
there are plenty of friends awaiting them at 
the station. They invariably arrive at the fish- 
market for the earliest sales, and at noon the 
epicure may eat them at Marguery's, which 
sounds like a French version of the " Alice in 
Wonderland " tale. 

One hour from Quiberon, by a tiny steam- 
boat, and one finds himself skirting the cliff 
walls surrounding and sheltering the little port 
and town of Palais on Belle He, overlooked 
by the powerful citadel built by Vauban, who, 
as the fortress-builder of France, stood in his 
profession where Napoleon did in his. 

This " plus belle tie de V ocean " has forty- 
eight kilometres of coast-line, and every one 
of them has been so cut and serrated by the 
action of the waves that the island would form 
a veritable ocean graveyard were it situated on 
the direct line of travel by sea. 

For the most part, visitors content them- 
selves with making an excursion to the north- 
erly end of the island, a visit to the apothe- 
cary's grotto, and another to the lantern of the 
great lighthouse, which at night sends its elec- 
tric rays far out to sea. 

What tourists may not do is to roam over 

174 Rambles in Brittany 

the old citadel now occupied as a national fort, 
and this is a pity, for there they might conjure 
up a reminder of other days that would be like 
a chapter out of Dumas. 

The citadel was built by Marshal de Retz 
in 1572, and was the refuge of the cardinal of 
the same name when he fled from Nantes in 
1653. Not far away is the Chateau Fouquet. 
Nicholas Fouquet, Marquis of Belle He, was 
Superintendent of Finance under the regency 
of Anne of Austria, and continued the impor- 
tant office after the accession of Louis XIV. 
The concensus of opinion is that Fouquet was 
insinuating, specious, hypocritical, and sensual. 
It was at the great fete given by Fouquet at 
Vaux that the king planned his arrest, " fear- 
ing he would escape to Belle He," then thought 
to be an impregnable fortress. Both in the 
pages of the historians and in the romances 
of Dumas one may read the story. 

Belle-Ile-en-Mer, also, was made the home 
of Aramis after Dumas had given him epis- 
copal rank. The minute details given in " Le 
Vicomte de Bragelonne " would form an ad- 
mirable supplement to any guide-book. 

The great Sara Bernhardt has of recent 
years made her home on this barren and deso- 
late isle. It is not altogether desolate, how- 

Auray and the Monuments 175 

ever, for there are hotels at Palais and Sauzon, 
and tourists, solitary and in droves, are con- 
tinually making excursions thither in the sea- 
son from the neighbouring Breton coast, from 
Vannes, Quiberon, or Lorient. 

Although Belle He is only a pin-head on most 
maps of France, it has a considerable popula- 
tion. Palais is a town of five thousand souls, 
and Sauzon counts something over sixteen hun- 
dred, and so Belle He, being only about 21,000 
acres in extent, is a very thickly populated part 
of the globe. 

Returning to the mainland, a call at Loc- 
mariaquer is inevitable, if one be a true and 
genuine traveller, even if it be " out of the 
world/' which virtually it is, being at the tip 
end of another peninsula like that of Quiberon. 

The town itself owns to fifteen hundred or 
more souls, and all of them look prosperous 
and contented. Where all of them get their 
livelihood, it is difficult to see, for there is not 
much intercourse with the outside world. 

Locmariaquer has not even a railway, as Qui- 
beron has, but lies twenty kilometres or so 
south of Auray, almost at the mouth of Morbi- 
han Bay. The church of Locmariaquer is a 
fine twelfth-century work, but the foundation 
of the little town lies much farther back in 

176 Rambles in Brittany 

antiquity than this. It was the ancient Doriori- 
gum of the Eonians. 

The Chapel of St. Michel is built up from 
the Roman remains of a structure known as 
er c 'hast el. 

The great celebrities of Locmariaquer are, 
however, those members of the great family 
of menhirs, dolmens, and cromlechs with which 
this part of Morbihan is so thickly strewn. The 
chief of these are the dolmen known as Mane- 
Lud, Mountain of Ashes, of vast dimensions 
and having a grotto beneath it. Not far off is a 
tumulus and another dolmen known as Dol-er- 
Groh, an enormous stone table or altar. An- 
other is known as Mane-er-H 'roeck, the stone 
of the fairies ; it is quite seventy feet long, or 
was, for it now lies full length on the ground 
broken into four pieces. The finest and best 
preserved of all is the Dol-ar-Marc'hadouiren, 
the Merchants ' Table. It is hard to see just 
the significance of the name given to these 
three huge stones, but they form a wonderfully 
impressive monument of days gone by, never- 

The most beautiful dolmen known, whatever 
that description may really mean (the local 
renter of boats calls it such: " le plus beau 
dolmen connu "), can be visited only by boat. 

Auray and the Monuments 177 

It is on an island in the gulf, and is known as 
the Gavr'inis. 

La Trinite, ' ' a little village on the very edge 
of the sea " ! This is a description which ex- 
actly fits what the natives and the railway 
powers like to think is a watering-place. It is 
something like one, to be sure, but the influx 
of strangers during the summer months has 
never been so great as to obliterate or even to 
deaden the local colour. Its little harbour is 
lively with fishing-boats, and occasionally gay, 
when the boats are " dressed " for some great 
festival, but nothing of blatant bands and 
riotous crowds mars the quietness and sweet- 
ness of La Trinite, and accordingly it is a place 
to be remembered. 

Sometimes the sterility of the soil round 
about causes real distress among the small 
farming peasants; " one cannot live on fish 
alone," they say. 

There is a local benefactress who, when 
crops are poor and meagre, gives the whole of 
her own harvest gathered from an unusually 
ample holding to her more distressed neigh- 
bours. This is a true and practical charity 
that does not smack of smugness or pretence 
as do many acts questionably classed under 
that head. It is a singularly expressive ex- 

178 Rambles in Brittany 

emplification of what the French know as 
" good socialism," and one hears much of it 
at La Trinite and in its neighbourhood. 

Taking to the road again, on the way to 
Auray, one passes another of those curious 
granitic formations. This time it comes down 
more near our own day, and is called the " St. 
Tiviro's hat." It does not look the least like 
the saint's hat, any more than the " devil's 
seats " and the " old men of the mountains," 
scattered about the world, look like what they 
are called — but let that pass. Legend connects 
this rock with a certain St. Tiviro, who one day 
lost his hat, which ultimately turned to stone. 
It does not seem plausible, and it is a pointless 
story indeed, but it gives a small child the op- 
portunity to point it out for a penny, which 
most folk will not grudge. 



Three towns of Morbihan little known, still 
less visited by travellers in Brittany, lie within 
a comparatively small area just north of the 
coast, and their names are Lorient, Hennebont, 
and Pont Scorff. 

The very name Lorient will appeal to many. 
It suggests the great trade with the East, in full 
swing in the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 
turies, when the town grew up as a necessary 
part of a vast commerce. Some of the old-time 
romantic picturesqueness of the shipping has 
disappeared, and the Hotels " Royal Sword " 
and " White Horse " have given way to the 
Hotels " Modern' ' and "of France," with 
electric lights and sheds for motor-cars, but 
there is still a distinguishing excellence to be 
remarked which makes Lorient a place well 
worth visiting. 

It was in the seventeenth century that an 
association of Breton merchants, who were car- 

180 Rambles in Brittany 

rying on the trade with the East Indies, first 
built their warehouses here. The traffic grew 
to proportions so considerable that Louis XIV. 
ultimately gave letters patent for the founda- 
tion of a new and grander East India Company. 

The company erected ship-houses here, and 
the name Lorient was given to the settlement, 
which was fast growing to a prime importance 
among the ports of France. An English fleet, 
under Admiral Lestock, landed some six or 
seven thousand men in the bay of Poldu, at 
twelve kilometres west of Lorient, and marched 
upon the town as a revenge for certain attacks 
upon British interests in the East. 

The English met with no great triumph here, 
but Louis XV. was indifferent enough to allow 
many of the French settlements in the Indies 
to be taken, and this led to the rapid decadence 
of the great East India Company and its port. 
Napoleon resuscitated it, as he did many an- 
other decaying institution in France, and de- 
veloped the industry of the port to such an 
extent that Lorient became one of the principal 
maritime towns of France. Its past history 
sounds romantic enough, but there is little of 
romance about the life of its streets and 
wharves to-day; instead, there is activity not 
admitting even the thought of romance. Jan- 

Morbihan 181 

gling gongs of tram-cars, the puffing of loco- 
motives, and the shrieks of the sirens, to say 
nothing of the accompaniment of belching chim- 
ney-stacks and the sound of the riveting ham- 
mers in the great shipyards, all testify that 
Lorient is living in the age of progress. 

Local sights, outside this marvellous exposi- 
tion of modern spirit, are few. There is a 
municipal museum, containing some good mod- 
ern pictures, many of them of Breton subjects, 
but there are no ecclesiastical or architectural 
monuments worthy of remark. The commer- 
cial harbour and the dockyard are decidedly 
the most interesting features. Within the walls 
of the latter is the parade-ground, which serves 
as a fine promenade for the population of Lori- 
ent when the military band plays on summer 

The roadstead of Lorient is a great deep- 
water harbour, which can shelter the largest 
ships afloat. It is guarded by six great lights, 
one of them in the cupola of the Church of St. 
Louis. This is one of the very few instances 
where a great city church is a mariner's bea- 
con, besides performing its other functions on 
behalf of lost souls. 

Opposite Lorient is Port Louis, founded a 
century before its bigger sister. Anciently it 

182 Rambles in Brittany 

was known as Blavet, but took its present name 
in honour of Louis XIII. Its walls were begun 
in 1652. 

In the immediate neighbourhood of Lorient 
and Port Louis are many delightful little sea- 
side places, hardly popular resorts in any sense 
of the word, but all the better for that, where 
one may get such views of sea and shore and 
shipping of all ranks as is hardly to be found 
elsewhere on the Breton coast. 

Up the little river Blavet, at the head of 
deep-sea navigation, is Hennebont, a most de- 
lightfully disposed little place, which has been 
called the pearl of the Blavet. Like most of 
the tidal rivers of France, the Blavet, on its 
lower reaches, offers about the most paintable 
of all landscapes imaginable. This, with the 
Auray, the Aven, the Scorff, and the Elle, would 
prove a sketching-ground quite inexhaustible, 
in the variety of its moods, to the artist of an 
average length of life. 

Hennebont, which has eight thousand or 
more inhabitants and a delightful inn, electric- 
lighted though it be, is divided into the new 
town and the fortified town. It sits beside the 
river's bank, and crosses on a bridge of three 
arches. Above, the river dwindles to a mere 
rivulet, but below the incoming tides will bring 


H en neb on t 

Morbihan 183 

craft of a tonnage of three hundred or more 
straight to the heart of the town. A tonnage 
of three hundred does not mean much to the 
travellers by twenty-thousand-ton steamships, 
but assuredly when one sees one of these little 
craft, with their three slender square-rigged 
masts, by the soft light of the full moon, in the 
little Breton port of Hennebont, it looks like 
the phantom ship, whose masts and spars 
" cross the moon like prison bars." 

Hennebont derives its name from the Breton 
words for old bridge. The first lord of the 
place, Huelin of Hennebont, lived in 1037. The 
fortified town was, of course, the earlier foun- 
dation, the new town only coming into exist- 
ence in the sixteenth century, when the great 
Church of Our Lady of Paradise was still in 
the open country. 

Trade follows the flag, but habitations follow 
the church, and so, when this great Gothic edi- 
fice was built in 1513 - 30, it began to draw the 
houses of the city dwellers around it, and now 
the fortified town is practically non-existent 
except as a quarter. 

This church is a wonder-work of its kind, 
considering its great size, its graceful lines, and 
its ornamental Gothic spire, rising to a height 
which must approximate three hundred feet. 

184 Rambles in Brittany 

The ancient ramparts of the old fortified 
town appear here and there along the river- 
bank, in the well-preserved gateway which one 
passes on the left after leaving the river on 
the way to the church, and in yet another frag- 
ment — a great circular tower — in the court- 
yard of the aforesaid excellent Hotel de France. 

The old castle of Hennebont, of which some- 
thing more than fragments still remain, saw 
the death of Comte Charles of Blois, who, es- 
caping from his dungeon in one of the towers 
of the old Louvre at Paris, came here in 1345. 
One may read in Froissart of the defence of 
Hennebont by Jeanne of Montfort in 1342. 

There are many old gabled houses at Henne- 
bont, most fantastic in form, one of which, bear- 
ing the inscription, " Le Levic, 1600," is per- 
haps the most ancient of any built without the 
walls of the fortified town. 

The great fortified gateway, which gives ac- 
cess to the old citadel, is a fine ogival work 
flanked by two massive machicolated towers. 
This old district is quite the most curious and 
unworldly feature of this little city by the 

It is a veritable town of the middle ages, yet 
unspoiled and quite as it was in the olden days, 
when its sturdy walls gave protection against 

Morbihan 185 

the invader, and its great gates opened only 
upon the orders of the governor. 

In suburban Hennebont, scarce a kilometre 
away, on the left bank of the Blavet, are to be 
seen the remains of the old Abbaye de la Joie, 
a famous establishment of the monks of the 
Cistercian order. It was founded in the thir- 
teenth century by Blanche of Champagne, wife 
of John the Red-haired. One still sees her 
statue in wood and bronze, but the conventual 
buildings themselves have come to base uses, 
and are now a horse-breeding establishment. 

Pont Scorff, so far as its situation is con- 
cerned, resembles Hennebont. It spans the 
tiny river Scorff, and the views along the banks 
are in every way equally delightful with those 
on the Blavet. Pont Scorff, however, has not 
the magnitude or the antiquity of Hennebont, 
and its two parts are known as the upper town 
and the lower town. 

The most ancient building here is the Chapel 
of St. John of the old commandery of St. John 
du Faouet; it dates at least from the thirteenth 
century. There is a fine Renaissance house in 
the little public square, called the House of the 
Princes. It is richly decorated and has a fine 
series of dormer windows and a row of pilas- 
ters bearing the symbols of the Rohan family. 

186 Rambles in Brittany 

There is another ancient house, formerly be- 
longing, it is believed, to the Templars. The 
parish Church of St. Albin dates only from 
1610, and is in no way a remarkable work. 

The Chapel of Notre Dame de Kergornet, 
a fifteenth-century edifice near by, is a place of 
pilgrimage for the Breton nurses, that great 
race of foster-mothers who care for the thou- 
sands of Parisian children in the Bois, or the 
gardens of the Tuileries, or the Luxembourg. 

From this point, as one journeys westward, 
he leaves pretty much all France behind him. 
The modern Department of Finistere, the 
" Land's End " of the French, is all that lies 
between him and the vast heaving Atlantic. 



At Quimperle one makes his first acquaint- 
ance with that part of the Armorican peninsula 
known to-day on the maps of France as the 
Department of Finistere. This charming little 
town is of itself of great importance, as mark- 
ing the dividing-line between the dialect of 
Vannes and that of the western peninsula. 
There is no great difference to be noted by 
the casual traveller, since all of the younger 
population speak the French tongue, — some- 
times exclusively, — but there is an unmistak- 
able modification of manners and customs 
toward the more theatrical aspect which one 
best sees at Pont Aven, Pont PAbbe, and the 
little fishing villages around the Bay of Dou- 

Of the women of Quimperle much has been 
remarked by all who have ever lingered within 
its walls. They are " superb in type, elegant 
and gracious," we were told by a French 


188 Rambles in Brittany 

artist who had set up his easel on the quay. 
But there is no need to tell anybody; even a 
woman-hater would remark it. Certainly this 
is as good an entrance to a new and strange 
land as heart could desire. 

Quimperle lies on both sides of the little river 
Elle, which, like the other streams of the South 
Breton coast, is a special variety of waterway 
quite unlike their more pretentious brothers 
and sisters elsewhere. The country round 
about has been called the " Arcadia of Lower 
Brittany,' ' and so it will strike even the least 
observant of travellers — after he has recov- 
ered from the effects of the glances of those 
elegant and gracious females. 

The most ancient part of the little city is 
that known as the walled town, grouped around 
the ancient Abbey of Holy Cross, on that 
tongue of land which separates the Isole and 
the Elle. The escarpment is badly built up, 
but withal it is ruggedly picturesque, abound- 
ing in old houses, some of which have stood 
since the thirteenth century. 

The site of the old Abbey of Holy Cross was 
known in the sixth century as Anaurot, and 
became the refuge of one of the Breton Kings 
of Cambria, who, abdicating, came here and 
built a hermitage, which in time was converted 


Finistere 189 

into an abbey of Benedictines. This old Abbey 
of Holy Cross, as it exists to-day, has a ground- 
plan which more nearly follows that of a four- 
armed cross than any other extant in Chris- 
tendom. The same motive doubtless inspired 
its builders as that which induced the archi- 
tects of Charlemagne to erect that famous 
round church at Aix-la-Chapelle, which in real- 
ity it greatly resembles in general features; 
both went back to the Church of the Holy Sep- 
ulchre at Jerusalem for their initial idea. 

This church at Quimperle is one of the three 
or four in all Brittany having a crypt, and it 
is more amply endowed with interior furnish- 
ings and fitments than many a grander edifice. 
Altogether it is an ecclesiastical monument of 
the first importance. 

It has a companion, moreover, of no mean 
rank, either, in the Church of St. Michael, 
which sits high on the hilltop and dominates 
nearly every vista of the town. 

After a tempestuous past extending from the 
monastic foundation of the sixth century, Anau- 
rot, or Quimperle as it had become meantime, 
surrendered to Duguesclin in 1373. Finally, 
when a treaty had been signed with the League 
as to future neutrality, the city walls were de- 
molished (in 1680), and Quimperle settled down 

190 Rambles in Brittany 

to a peaceful existence, which is only broken 
on the year's great feast-days, or on the days 
of the pardons, — that of the Passion in March, 
the Pardon of the Birds on Whit-Monday, the 
second day of May, or the last Sunday of July. 

One or the other of these dates should be 
made to correspond with one's itinerary, when 
one will see the real Lower Breton as he seldom 
appears outside a picture. Near Quimperle is 
the little coast station of Pouldu, where fig- 
trees, the hydrangea, and other plants of the 
Midi bloom throughout the year. 

Needless to say that it may some day become 
a really popular and populous seaside resort, 
with casinos and alleged Hungarian bands, but 
that day may be far distant, and any one look- 
ing for an unspoiled seaside resting-place need 
not hesitate to go out of his way to give a 
glance to this altogether delightful little port 
of Pouldu. There is nothing like it, nothing 
so unaffected and unspoiled, on the whole Bre- 
ton coast. On the way to Pouldu one passes 
the important ruins of the ancient Abbey of 
St. Maurice, founded in 1170 by the Duke 
Conan IV., and the place where Maurice — a 
monk of Langonnet since become sainted — was 
buried in 1191. In part, this fine ruin dates 
from the thirteenth century, to which period 

Finistere 191 

belong the chapter-room and the chapel, the 
principal features still remaining intact. 

Near Quimperle is St. Fiacre, whom some 
unknowing person has called the patron saint 
of the Paris cabman, an individual who has 
not much regard for anything saintly. 

There is a beautiful fifteenth-century chapel 
at St. Fiacre, though to-day it is greatly marred 
by wind, weather, and barbarous customs. 
Each year, in June, there is an important fair 
held at St. Fiacre, at which the young men from 
round about offer themselves for employment. 
Each of them carries a rod or switch. To en- 
gage one who seems a likely person for your 
purpose, you, or the young man before your 
eyes, — after a parley, — break the rod, and he 
immediately becomes a member of your do- 
mestic establishment. 

There seems something rather uncertain 
about all this, but surely the " matter of form " 
augurs as well for good and faithful service 
as the average written " character " with 
which one engages a servant in England. 

The hair-cutter appears at St. Fiacre as at 
all Breton fairs. He is known as Gerard, and 
since the age of ten years he has been learned 
in the art of hair-cutting. For a long time he 
was the chief barber of a regiment of the line, 

192 Rambles in Brittany 

and he will tell you (or he may not) that he 
has cut many hundreds of thousands of heads 
in his time, and has garnered enough of a crop 
to carpet the whole of the village of St. Fiacre 
a metre deep. 

Faouet, not to be confounded with the place 
of the same name in the Cotes du Nord, is a 
small town with a great square, and a still more 
important old market-house, which, like that 
at Auray, strikes the stranger as being a mar- 
vellous construction of wooden beams, and 
quite impossible to duplicate to-day, whereas 
the construction is doubtless far less complex 
than the modern market-houses that one some- 
times meets, — mere ugly sheds of brick and 

There is a never ceasing ebb and flow of 
peasant-folk at the Faouet market, the busiest 
of which come the Saturday of Holy Week, 
the Friday after Pentecost, the twentieth of 
June, and the sixth and twenty-sixth of July. 

The scene is too dazzling to describe, and too 
active to snap-shot, and one can only feel its 
real significance by personal participation. 
The transactions are not of the stupendous 
order, and there is much good-natured chaff- 
ing and bartering, and it offers a scene as lively 




as if the fate of a nation were depending on the 

The Breton peasant is not always the sad 
and superstitious individual he has been pic- 
tured, though both men and women think noth- 


ing of embracing the opportunity of saying 
a " Hail Mary " in the Chapel of St. Barbara, 
or before the great cross of stone beside the 
main road, as they go into town, taking to 
market a small calf or a brace or two of ducks, 
led at the end of a cord by their sides. 

194 Rambles in Brittany 

The Chapel of St. Barbara occupies an ex- 
traordinary position three hundred metres or 
more above the bed of the Elle, which bathes 
the lower walls of the town. 

After tradition, the Sieur de Toulbodon was 
one day hunting in the valley of the Elle, when 
a terrific storm broke overhead, and a rock 
falling at his feet barred the way. He made 
a vow to St. Barbara to erect a chapel here, 
because of his merciful preservation from 
death. The rock exists to-day, and is shown to 
the credulous, — at least, a rock is shown which 
the credulous believe is the identical one, and 
accordingly it is venerated; though why it is 
not reviled, no one seems to know. 

Near Faouet is the Abbey of Our Lady of 
Langonnet, founded in 1136 by Conan III. of 
Brittany. Its fortunes have been various ; in 
E evolutionary times it served as quarters for 
a stud, but has since been turned over to relig- 
ious uses again, and is now occupied by a con- 
gregation of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost. 

The church, the chapter-room, and some 
other details still remain, admirably preserved, 
to illustrate the excellence of the early Gothic 
period of the buildings. 

On the way to Eosporden, one passes the 
principal town of Bannalec, whose original 

Finistere 195 

name was Balaneck, meaning the place for 
planting the broom. It has not much interest 
for the stranger, unless perchance he happens 
to pass through it on the day of some local 
feast or celebration, when he will most likely 
see the young peasant-folk, men and women, 
dancing in the middle of the roadway, as they 
do in the operas. Brittany indeed is about the 
only place where one is likely to see such a 
phenomenon, and, if by chance it happen to be 
a wedding celebration, the diversion will be 
doubly interesting. 

On the particular occasion when the builders 
of this book passed that way, a wedding dance 
was actually in progress, and so edifying was 
the ceremony that the bride and groom were 
invited into the tonneau of our motor-car, and 
whirled away to Rosporden for a little excur- 
sion, which was unpremeditated and unex- 
pected to all concerned, and was probably also 
a unique experience. 

Rosporden, on the shore of the great lake 
of Rosporden, as it was described to us, proved 
a disappointment. Not that so very much was 
expected of it, but that so little was found in 
it. The lake is a misnomer, though the water- 
weedy pond near the church serves the innu- 
merable artists who flock to the region as a 


Rambles in Brittany 

highly interesting foreground. The women of 
Rosporden wear the most immense bonnets 

and coifs to be seen in all Brittany, and wim- 
ples like those of the Sisters of Charity. 

The church dates from the twelfth to the 
fifteenth centuries, and is in every way an ad- 
mirably preserved monument. 

Finistere 197 

To Concarneau and the smell of the sea is 
a dozen or fourteen kilometres over a gently 
rising and falling road, with a tendency always 
to descend until finally one coasts down the 
long main street of the celebrated fishing port 
and artists' sketching-ground (it would be hard 
to tell in which aspect it is the more famous), 
until one comes to that famous Great Travel- 
lers' Hotel, where one eats of oysters, lobster, 
and fresh sardines and many other kinds of 
sea food to such an extent that one feels de- 
cidedly fishy, or at least thirsty. 

This should make little difference, as the 
coffee-room of that most excellent hostelry is 
likewise excellent, and has a charming outlook 
upon the wharfs and fishing-boats, thus af- 
fording as delightful a method of accustoming 
oneself to strange sights as could be imagined. 

The fishing-boats of Concarneau are one and 
all great brown- winged gulls that flit slowly 
over the great bay, going in and out with the 
rise and fall of the tide all through the round 
of the clock, depositing their cargoes on the 
wharfs, shifting crews, and starting off again 
in a continuous performance of coming and 
going which never ceases until their timbers, 
from some untoward cause, fall apart. 

As the boats lie at the landing, sails come 

198 Rambles in Brittany 

down and the delicate brown and blue nets go 
up for drying, for not all of the boats have so 
great a supply that they can shift to another 
set. The most curious effect is given by these 
blue and brown nets swinging masthead high, 
as if they were spider-web sails. 

The picturesqueness of the Concarneau fish- 
ing-boats is undeniable. Nothing like them ex- 
ists elsewhere, and when the sardine boats set 
out for the west, as the sun goes down, there 
are as wonderful combinations of golden yel- 
low-browns, reds, and purples as the most 
imaginative painter could possibly conjure on 
his canvas. 

On shore, the nets, spread for drying on the 
wharfs and on the racks beside the little fisher- 
man's chapel and the great stone crucifix which 
faces seawards, are of the deepest blues and 
purple-browns in a bewitching mixture. 

Not a white-sailed boat is to be seen, unless 
it is an occasional yacht drifting in because 
its owner has tired of making the fashionable 
harbours where his guests can spend the night 
on shore dancing to the questionable music of 
a red or blue coated band. 

It is a question as to whether Concarneau, 
were it not the centre of the sardine fishery, 
might not be the first seaside resort of the 

Stone Crucifix ; Concameau 



world. As it is, there are not a few who evi- 
dently think it far preferable to those pseudo- 
society watering-places, whose chief attractions 
are big casinos and little horses. 

The hotels of the place are in no sense re- 
sort hotels, though they are fitted with a mar- 
vellous convenience and comfort, and feed one 
most bountifully and excellently on sea food, 


wherein fresh sardines and lobsters predom- 
inate, — those two great delicacies of the Paris 
restaurant which here are the common food 
of the people, for Concarneau is one of the few 
fishing centres of the world which keeps some 
of its products for the supply of its own table. 
To-day the town is composed of two quar- 
ters, the new town, otherwise the faubourg Ste. 
Croix, modern, prosperous, and animated, and 

200 Rambles in Brittany 

the walled town, the island fort of the middle 

In 1373, Concarneau was occupied by an Eng- 
lish garrison, who fled before Duguesclin. In 
1488, the Viscount of Eohan reduced it by order 
of Charles VIII., but the Marshal de Rieux 
retook it from the French the following year, 
and repaired and strengthened the old forti- 

The religious wars played their part here 
most vividly, until finally it fell to the hands 
of Henry IV. 

The walled town to-day is a remarkable ex- 
ample of an isolated fort or citadel, the islet 
upon which it is situated being of a confined 
area and wholly surrounded by a thick granite 
rampart, which, however invulnerable it may 
have been in a former day, would stand no 
chance against modern guns. 

In part, these fortifications date from the 
fourteenth century, and at high water are en- 
tirely surrounded by the sea. The great bas- 
tion attributed to the former Duchess Anne 
— after she had become a queen of France — 
is a stupendous work of its time. For the most 
part, the other parts of the walls have been 
restored and built up anew in modern times. 

Concarneau is the Ploudenec of Blanche 

Finistere 201 

Willis Howard's charming Breton tale of 
" Guenn," and Nevin, where the great pardon 
dance was held, may have been Pont Aven or 

There is a wealth of charming colour in this 
sad tale, and not a little truth with regard to 
some of the characters, to which Americans, 
before now, have attempted to attach the names 
of real persons in the world of art and litera- 

Opposite Concarneau is Beg-Meil, which in 
more respects than one is an anomaly. It has 
some pretence at being a watering-place, but 
there is no town there, save such as is built up 
around a few country-houses and hotels, cater- 
ing only to summer folk; besides this, a few 
scattered and isolated farms form the sum total 
of the habitations of this little jutting point 
of land running out into the billowy Atlantic. 
For four-fifths of the year, the population of 
this salt meadow is composed only of sea-birds, 
which, like their fellows elsewhere, form an 
interesting colony of themselves. 

The sea-birds of Brittany, like those of other 
rock-bound shores, are ever interesting to the 
traveller. Like the gulls of London Bridge, 
those near the great bay of Concarneau are 
wonderfully tame and singularly ravenous, and 

202 Ram bles in Brittany 

apparently eat all day. That is, when they are 
not sleeping or billing and cooing, as is the 
sea-birds' way, for in this they would seem 
to rival the turtle-dove. When they are not 
courting or sleeping, they go a-fishing, and the 
seaweed-strewn rocks about Concarneau are 
their happy hunting-grounds. They will eat, 
say the fisherfolk of the sardine fleet, ^ve 
pounds or more of fish in a day, which is con- 
siderably more than the weight of an individual 

From Concarneau one must perforce follow 
back along the coast-line to Pont Aven, for a 
trip to Brittany without having known the de- 
lights of this colony of artist-folk, in which 
Americans predominate, would be like the trag- 
edy without Hamlet, or the circus without the 
elephant or the pink lemonade. 

" Pont Aven, the Barbison of Bretagne! 
chosen home of the painters of all nations and 
all schools, with Americans predominating." 
This is a faithful translation of the remark 
of an appreciative travelling salesman, one 
" who loved art," if the description be credi- 
ble. You will hear tales at Pont Aven of the 
time when artists found their accommodation 
at a roadside inn outside the town — now ap- 
parently vanished — for fifty-five francs per 

Pont A 


Finistere 203 

month, and paid a sou for a litre of milk, and 
four sous for a litre of cider. 

These days have gone, and at Pont Aven, as 
elsewhere throughout the world, the prices of 
all things are apparently rising. Eeally, Pont 
Aven and its environs are delightful ; its little 
river is busy and chattering with many mill- 
wheels, and the Lovers' Wood — as many know 
■ — is well named. 

Because of its many riverside mill-wheels, 
Pont Aven has been named Millers' Town by 
the natives, and also " The famous town with 
fourteen mills and fifteen houses." 

Unquestionably, the fame of Pont Aven has 
been made, or, at least, furthered, by Mile. 
Julia, the most capable landlady of the Trav- 
ellers' Hotel. The modest little country-house 
which formed the original hotel has now a more 
magnificent neighbour, built up with a steel 
frame, — like a Chicago skyscraper, — and re- 
splendent with modern furniture, with chairs 
and sofas of the saddle-bag variety, electric 
lights, electric bells which actually do ring, 
ice-water, afternoon tea, Scotch whiskey, and 
all the super-refinements of a twentieth-century 

It is all very comfortable, — too comfortable 
the artists will tell you, — but the eagle eye 


Rambles in Brittany 

and strong will of Mile. Julia still hover over 
all, and nothing of deterioration is to be noted 
in the fare, which is excellent, and served in 
the charmingly quaint and beautifully deco- 
rated dining-hall of the little old inn, the pre- 
cursor of the more splendid addition. 




All this is as it should be, of course, but the 
price has of late gone up, though it is still 
thought exceedingly modest by guests who have 
spent most of their time in big city or seaside 

Painters are perhaps fewer here to-day than 
some years ago, and there are more of the ques- 
tionable pleasures of society, such as bridge 
and ping-pong, which is a pity. 

Finistere 205 

Another appendage to the Hotel Julia is 
found at the St. Nicolas Beach on the coast. 
St. Nicolas is hardly more than a bathing- 
place, but it is delightfully empty, and alto- 
gether Pont Aven, with its environs, is a charm- 
ing centre from which to make a week's, a 
month's, or a summer's excursion. 

Of the young girls of Pont Aven, Anatole 
France has uttered many truthful phrases. 
Very gracious they are indeed with their great 
white quilled collars, their windmill coifs, and 
their black skirts plaited like an accordion. 

Here at Pont Aven — as elsewhere — fash- 
ion reigns, and the costume as it is known to- 
day is quite different from that of fifty years 
ago, which was not so picturesque, one would 
say, judging from old prints. 

The metropolis of these parts and the ecclesi- 
astical capital, for it is a cathedral city, is 
Quimper, twenty odd kilometres west of Con- 

Quimper is a real city, though it owns to a 
trifle less than twenty thousand inhabitants, 
and was the ancient capital of the county of 
Cornouaille. From all points the marvellously 
beautiful spires of its Cathedral of St. Coren- 
tin dominate the place. It is one of the most 
characteristicallv Breton towns in the manners 

206 Rambles in Brittany 

and customs of the people, the general aspect 
of its wharfs and streets, its shops and its 

The first establishment of a settlement here 
was in Roman times, when, in the eleventh cen- 
tury, it was known as the Civitas Aquilonia. 
After the expulsion of the Romans from the 
land, it became the capital and the home of 
the kings or hereditary Counts of Cornouaille, 
one of whom, Grollon, has left a legend of great 
vitality, telling of his emigration here from 
Britain across the seas, and the founding of 
the first bishopric. 

The cathedral, dedicated to St. Corentin, was 
built between 1239 and 1515, and shows the 
marks of the best workmanship of its time. 
Its fine spires rival those of St. Pol de Leon 
and Treguier in the north. The ground-plan 
of this fine church is not truly orientated, a 
detail which is supposed to indicate the inclin- 
ing of the head of Christ on the cross. It is 
not unique, but the arrangement is so rarely 
found as to warrant remark. 

The town hall encloses a library of some 
thirty-four thousand volumes, among them a 
copy of the first dictionary in the Breton 
tongue, published at Treguier in 1499. 

The museum contains some interesting ar- 



chaeological treasures and some good modern 
paintings, including examples of the work of 
Yan d' Argent, Joubert Lansyer, Dagnan, and 

BR.ODe.HIE. De 2.VIMPE.K ^S'^iV 




From the Museum at Quimper 




Abram Duvau, mostly depicting Breton sub- 
jects. It also has an admirable collection of 
old Breton costumes, etc. 

The Rue Kereon is the chief street of the 

208 R ambles in Brittany 

town, and, like the Kalverstraat of Amsterdam, 
is one of those narrow thoroughfares so over- 
flowing with life that to observe and study the 
passing throng is to master the manners and 
customs of the people. 

There are many quaint old houses scattered 
here and there, and like those old lean-to and 
tumble-down structures of Kouen and Lisieux, 
they continually reappear on the canvases 
shown in Paris each year at the two great ex- 

The Allees Locmaria form a series of mag- 
nificently shaded promenades; this is fre- 
quently a feature of French towns above a 
population of ten thousand, and a feature which 
might be imitated in America and England 
with considerable accruing advantage. 

South from Quimper lie Pont PAbbe and 
Penmarc'h, as characteristically Breton as any- 
thing to be seen in the whole province; the 
former has something over six thousand inhab- 
itants, and the latter over four, and each has 
its own distinct characteristics. 

Pont PAbbe is a town of embroiderers. 
Everywhere one finds shops whose sole busi- 
ness it is to sell those fine braid embroideries 
— yellow on a black ground — which have 
made this part of Brittany famous. 

Finistere 209 

The costumes of Pont l'Abbe are famous 
throughout all Brittany. The coif recalls those 
seen in the pictures of the ancient Gauls. It is 
virtually a little black velvet hood, and the coif 
itself is a " pignon de couleur," as the hostess 
of the hotel described it, and then, man-fashion, 
the author felt he was wallowing in a strange 
subject. Locally this confection, taken entire, 
it is inferred, is known as a bigoiiden, — a 
picturesque but not precisely instructive word. 

The men wear a hat with three great buck- 
les, and some of them — though their numbers 
are few — may yet be seen in the culotte bouf- 
fante, that peculiarly Breton species of 
breeches known in their own tongue as 
" bragoii-braz." 

With such an introduction, one might expect 
almost any fantastic costume to step out from 
a doorway, but, to realize the quaintness of 
it all to the full, one should see the inhabitants 
at the Fetes de la Treminou, held on the twenty- 
fifth of March, Whit-Monday, the third Sunday 
in July, and the fourth Sunday in September. 

The dances of Pont l'Abbe are famous and 
are indescribable by any one but a dancing- 
master. Inasmuch as they invariably take 
place in the open air, they may be accepted 
as the free and spontaneous expression of an 

210 Rambles in Brittany 

emotion, which stuffy ballroom cotillons most 
decidedly are not. 

The church of Pont l'Abbe dates from a 
Carmelite foundation of the fourteenth cen- 
tury, and is a fine work of its era, though sur- 
mounted by a curious and modern bell-tower in 
wood. Within the church are the tombs of 
many of the ancient barons of Pont l'Abbe. 
The magnificent rose window is of modern 
glass, but so admirable that one stands before 
it with a certain respectful awe, as before that 
old thirteenth-century glass in Chartres cathe- 
dral. The ancient cloisters are still preserved 
and surround a fine garden. 

Pont l'Abbe is only five kilometres from the 
coast, and Loctudy, also the possessor of a fine 
mediaeval church, and Penmarc'h form a trio 
of Breton coast towns quite as worthy of one's 
attention as many better known resorts. 

Penmarc'h — which for some inexplicable 
reason is pronounced Penmar — is situated in 
the midst of a great bare peninsula terminat- 
ing in the Pointe de Penmarc'h. Instead of 
a high cliff sheared off at the water's edge, as 
one so frequently sees on the north coast, the 
point sinks gently into the blue waters of the 
Atlantic until it is swallowed up, with never 
so much as a line of breakers to indicate its 

Finistere 211 

presence from seaward. Penmarc'h in Breton 
signifies the " head of a horse," and Benzec 
Capcaval, a village not far distant, means the 
same. An ingenious person will have no diffi- 
culty in following the etymology of the latter 
word, but the former is quite incomprehensible 
except to a Welshman. 

Penmarc'h was for four centuries a city 
which kept pace with Nantes. Its early riches 
came from the traffic in " lenten meat," which 
is simply codfish. 

The Church of St. Nonna is a late Gothic 
edifice, with a great square tower which will 
be remarked by all who come near it. Its in- 
terior has two baptismal fonts, strangely dec- 
orated with stone carvings of fantastic shapes, 
depicting the history of Penmarc , h. 

Three kilometres away is the town of St. 
Guenole, a tiny fishing port with fine panoramic 
view of the Bay of Audierne. The chapel 
of St. Guenole occupies the base of a great 
tower, now ruinous, but looking as though in 
a former day it must have belonged to some 
pretentious church. 

" The Handle of the Torch " is one of the 
local sights. It is formed of a series of great 
rocks at some little distance from the main- 
land. That bearing the name of " The Torch " 

212 Rambles in Brittany- 

is separated from the mainland by the Monk's 
Leap, which, according to legend, was the land- 
ing-place of St. Viaud, when he migrated from 
Hibernia to Brittany ages ago. 

From Quimper to the Point of Kaz is one 
long up and down hill pull of fifty kilometres, 
until one finally reaches Point or Cape Sizun, 
known to Ptolemy as the promontory of 
Gabceum. It is the extreme westerly point 
of the peninsula of Cornouaille, and, reckoning 
from the meridian of Paris, — for the French 
do not use the meridian of Greenwich, — is just 
on the line of the seventh degree of west longi- 
tude. The Leon country northward of Brest 
actually extends a trifle farther westward, at 
Point St. Mathieu, but most maps do not 
show it. 

North of the Point of Eaz is the great Bay 
of Douarnenez, with its sardine fisheries rival- 
ling those of Concarneau, and southward lies 
the shallow bay of the Audierne, whose shores, 
in their own way, are quite as characteristi- 
cally wild as those of any part of Northwestern 

At the extreme end of the Point of Eaz are 
two unpretentious hotels, which will please 
only those of simple tastes and lovers of the 

Finistere 213 

solitary; both are connected with more am- 
bitious establishments at Audierne. 

The Bay of the Dead, the Hell of PlogafT, 
and the rocky point itself, form the tourist 
attractions, but it will be enough for most lov- 
ers of solitude to bask in the sunlight amid 
the gentle breezes from the Gulf Stream, and 
to leave rock-climbing to those agile spirits 
who affect that sort of exercise. 

Near Audierne is the Church of St. Tuglan, 
a fine fifteenth and sixteenth century edifice, 
with many a legend clinging to the name of its 
patron saint. It is all very vague, but there is 
hidden superstition in abundance, if one only 
had the patience to work it out. All that can be 
learned is, that the holy man was the Abbe of 
Primelin, near by, and that his feast is cele- 
brated throughout all the Point of Raz. His 
statue represents him with a key in the hand, 
and there is a great iron key preserved in the 
church said to have once belonged to him. On 
the day of the pardon great quantities of little 
loaves are stamped with this key and, according 
to a popular belief, they will cure a mad dog 
of his madness, if he be given a morsel to eat, 
and possess many other virtues of a similar 
nature. In the sacristy of the church are pre- 
served the teeth of St. Tuglan. The inhabitants 

214 Rambles in Brittany 

of Primelin are known as paotret ar alc'houez, 
or servants of the key. 

Audierne is a busy litle Breton port of per- 
haps four thousand inhabitants, and opposite 
is the fishing village of Poulgoazec, with sar- 
dine factories and all the equipment of the 
trade. Up to the sixteenth century, Audierne 
was even more flourishing than it is to-day, for 
the codfish, which were its riches, had not left 
for other shores. 

The vast Bay of Audierne has a wild and 
deeply embayed coast-line, with nothing but a 
population of sea-birds to add to the gaiety of 
the landscape. 

Northward, toward Douarnenez, is Pont 
Croix, built in the form of an amphitheatre on 
the bank of the river Goayen. 

Our Lady of Roscudon is an ancient collegi- 
ate church now turned into a little seminary. 
The peasant folk round about call it only the 
Virgin's church. It is in many respects a re- 
markable fifteenth-century work. 

From the Point of Raz in the south to Cape 
de la Chevre in the north extends the great 
gulf known as the Bay of Douarnenez. Along 
its shores are innumerable little fishing villages, 
which seem almost of another world. Certainly 
they have not much in common with other sec- 

Finistere 215 

tions of Brittany, to say nothing of the rest of 

Douarnenez disputes with Concarneau the 
privilege of being considered the centre of the 
sardine industry, and, like it, has all the pic- 
turesque attributes of brown-sailed boats and 
of blue and brown nets hung masthead high 
for drying, as the craft lie at the quayside, 
after having unloaded their catch. 

The delicate blues and purple-browns of 
these nets are irresistible to the artist, but few 
have caught the real tone; indeed, more than 
one painter of repute has given it up as a bad 
job, saying that it was impossible to transfer 
it to canvas. 

The beauty of the Bay of Douarnenez has a 
fascination for artists and holds one spell- 
bound under certain aspects of the westering 
sun, when lights and shadows intermingle in 
truly heavenly fashion. 

During the civil wars of the sixteenth cen- 
turies, Douarnenez was taken by Jacques de 
Guengat, but was retaken by Fontenelle in 1595 
and its houses for the most part demolished, 
and used to build up the fortifications of the 
He Tristan. 

Douarnenez signifies, literally, the land of the 
isle. The He Tristan once contained a priory 

216 Rambles in Brittany 

dedicated to St. Tutarn, but now the chief 
sights are the lighthouse and a sardine factory. 
An ancient tradition recounts that the lie Tris- 
tan received its name from the valiant Tristan 
of Leonais, one of the knights of the Round 

Except for the view from the gallery of the 
great lighthouse, the trip to the island is hardly 
worth the making. The view from this vantage- 
point is, however, remarkable; indeed, it is 
unique, the writer is inclined to think, in all 
the world. Suffice to say of it that it is un- 
worldly, and yet gay with the workaday com- 
ing and going of the sardine fleets, as such a 
paradoxical description will permit one to im- 
agine. All is peaceful, and yet there is a steady 
inflow of industry that is in no wise detrimental 
to its unspoiled tranquillity. Perhaps if an 
artist lived by the shores of the deep blue and 
purple waters of this bay for a matter of two 
score of years, he might do it justice ; until then 
— never. 

Concarneau as a port is more interesting 
than Douarnenez, but the bay of Concarneau, 
delightful as it is, has not a tithe of the varia- 
tions that are played upon the gently flowing 
waters of the bay of Douarnenez by the setting 



The peninsula of Crozon shelters the bay of 
Douarnenez on the north. At one pronged ex- 
tremity is Boscanvel, jutting out into the roads 
of Brest, and at the other is Cape de la Chevre. 

Woman of Chateaulin 

Between the two is a wonderful country of 
rock-strewn coast-line and poppy-covered in- 
land fields. 

Chateaulin, situated on the river Aulne, a 

218 Rambles in Brittany 

little beyond the head of the peninsula, is the 
metropolis of these parts. It owes its name 
to an ancient hermitage of St. Idunet. Its pres- 
ent name grew from Nin or Castel Nin, then 
Castelin, and finally Chateaulin. The hermit- 
age, in time, was succeeded by the priory of 
Locquidunet, and that in its turn became the 
parish church of the present town. 

Hoel, Count of Cornouaille, who became 
Duke of Brittany, incorporated the town with 
the ducal domain, from which time on its his- 
tory was one of partisan strife. 

The Revolution elevated it to the rank of a 
market-town, and changed its name to " Cite 
sur Aulne," in an attempt to suppress the sup- 
posedly aristocratic prefix of Chateau. Ulti- 
mately, it reverted to its former name. 

Near by are the Black Mountains, of which 
Mene Horn is the chief eminence, its summit 
rising to a height of 330 metres, with other 
peaks at the height of 299, 272, and 248 metres. 
The heights are not so very considerable, but 
their proximity to the sea exaggerates them, 
and travellers by road — bicycle riders and 
travellers in motor-cars — will think the proc- 
ess of crossing the Black Mountains, on the 
way from North to South Finistere, as for- 
midable as the task of Hannibal. 

Finistere 219 

Crozon is a much larger place than Chateau- 
lin, isolated though it is from all direct com- 
munication with other parts. It is situated 
some 250 feet above the sea, on what the French 
call a wild table-land, and dominates the Bay 
of Douarnenez from the north. All around 
Crozon are innumerable grottoes and rock-cut 
caves and excavations, which always have a 
certain fascination for some folk, but will 
hardly interest the devotee to the beauties of 

Camaret, at the very tip of the peninsula, 
is another safe port for artists. Here are fish- 
ing-boats and all the accessories, like those seen 
at Douarnenez and Concameau, and with a 
landscape background and a foreground of 
blue water that many whose names are great 
in the world of art have painted and many 
more will paint. Cottets's " Fishing-boats at 
Camaret," in the Luxembourg Gallery, is per- 
haps the best known of these pictures, but the 
composition is always the same. The back- 
ground never changes, — the tiny chapel with 
its dwindling spire, the beacon, and the tall, 
gaunt stone house on the little mole running 
seaward and protecting the port, group them- 
selves willingly enough into the most charming 
view in all the town. 

220 Rambles in Brittany 

The fishing-boats of the foreground change 
their positions, but kaleidoscopically only, and 
one may return year after year and see prac- 
tically the same groupings, with only trifling 

One makes his way from Camaret to the 
great military port and trading town of Brest 
— if one need to go there at all, which is doubt- 
ful — either by boat across the Goulet and the 
roads of Brest, some sixteen kilometres by a 
puffy little excursion-boat, which, on a Sunday 
or a feast-day, is anything but comfortable, 
or by road by way of Faou, which is a great 
fruit and vegetable market for Brest, and not 
much more. 

There is a considerable display of costume 
here on market-days, — which appear to be 
every day, — and the town is picturesque 
enough of itself, though, strange to say, it 
smacks of suburbia, — a place where one gets 
his news second-hand from some neighbouring 
city e 




The northernmost part of the peninsula of 
Finistere has not the abounding or varied in- 
terests of the south. Its monuments of other 
days are not so many or so remarkable, and 
the sterner conditions of life seem to have had 
a sobering effect upon manners and customs. 

Brest and its wonderfully ample harbour has 
by no means the attractions of Vannes or of 
Nantes for the bird of passage, though its com- 
mercial and strategic value is great, and its 
history vivid and eventful. In spite of all this, 
there is little that is interesting to-day in its 
straight streets and rectangular blocks. 

This fortified and exceedingly animated town 
owns to eighty odd thousand inhabitants, and 
is so pervaded by military and naval organi- 
zation that there is very little local colour, very 
little atmosphere of the past hanging about it 
to-day. To find this, one has to go back to 
Faou, to Plougastel or Landerneau or Landi- 


222 Rambles in Brittany 

visiau, all within a radius of twenty kilometres 
or so. 

The great bay of Brest is a swarming water- 
way, upon which the little excursion steamers, 
tugboats, great cruisers and battle-ships, tor- 
pedo-boats and torpedo-boat destroyers, and 
yet other craft built to catch torpedo-boat des- 
troyers, are all apparently entangled inexpli- 
cably each in the wakes of all the others. 

The entrance to this harbour is known as the 
Goulet, and is lighted by five lighthouses, which 
at night send out their twinkling rays of red, 
green, and white in most kaleidoscopic fashion, 
— all Greek to a landsman, but as clear as day 
to the Breton pilots who bring the great ships 
in and out of this narrow waterway. In the 
ninth century, Brest was already in existence, 
in spite of its modern aspect to-day, and be- 
longed to the Counts of Leon. Its future was 
as varied as the history of Brittany. 

It opened its ports to the army of Charles 
VIII. in 1489, in spite of the efforts of Duchess 
Anne to prevent such a proceeding. How far 
she succumbed will be recalled when one real- 
izes that two years later her marriage with 
this prince was the first step which united the 
province of Brittany for ever with France. 
Brest from this time took on a new importance, 

Finistere 223 

until Cardinal Richelieu came to designate it 
as one of the principal arsenals of France, and 
then, in 1631, came the creation of the great 

Of architectural monuments, Brest still has 
the Church of St. Louis (1688-1778) and the 
twelfth and thirteenth century castle. As an 
ecclesiastical monument, the church is quite 
unworthy of attention, though it has some in- 
teresting tombs and monuments. 

The castle is an admirable example of medi- 
aeval fortification, with some remarkable acces- 
sory details in its construction. The isolated 
donjon tower was in other days a sort of in- 
dependent citadel, and formed a last refuge 
for the besieged occupants of the castle, should 
its outer walls give way to the invaders. The 
Tower of Azenor and the Tower of Anne of 
Brittany, so named for the respective prin- 
cesses, are admirably preserved parts. 

The local museum and library have fine col- 
lections. There are fifty-six thousand volumes 
in the library, and the collection of paintings 
contains many Breton subjects by modern mas- 

The dockyard — navy-yard in the language 
of the United States, port militaire in French 
— is closed to the general public, but a marvel- 

224 Rambles in Brittany 

lous detailed bird's-eye view of the city, the 
docks, and the roads is obtained from the plat- 
form of the Pont Tournant. 

Nineteen kilometres from Brest is Lander- 
neau, and the junction of the railway lines to 
Kerlouan und Folgoet in the north, and to 
Quimper and Concarneau in the south. Lan- 
derneau from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries 
had a distinct feudal administration. 

The folk of Landerneau have opinions of 
their own, as witness the remark, made at Ver- 
sailles under the regency by a Breton noble 
hailing from this place: " The Landerneau 
moon is larger than that at Versailles." 

Again there is a Breton proverb which runs 
thus : * ' There will always be something to talk 
about in Landerneau." Mostly this is used 
when a widow marries again, which may be 
taken to mean much or little, as one chooses. 

Landerneau has a fine little tidal harbour, 
and its streets and wharfs are busy with the 
hum of coastwise traffic and river life, and, 
with its Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury 
and its " best and cleanest inn in the bishop- 
ric " (Hotel de l'Univers), as a traveller of 
a century or more ago once wrote, it has no lack 
of interest for travellers. 

One is not likelv to be met with a statement 

Finistere 225 

by his host, as was the century-old traveller, 
that a respectable man begs to know if he may 
eat at the same table, and accordingly one will 
not have to reply, " With all my heart,' ' for 
most likely there will be twenty at the common 
table, and all will sit down to a meal of all the 
good things of life, " sea food " and golden 
cider and apple sweetmeats predominating. 

It is all excellent, however, and the abun- 
dance of deliciously cooked fish will make one 
think it were no hardship to make a lenten 
sojourn here. A great church and a good hotel 
are indeed all-sufficient attractions for a mar- 
ket-town of perhaps eight thousand souls. 

The town borders upon a picturesque little 
river, the Elorn, which finally flows into the 
harbour of Brest. From the hfth century until 
the sixteenth, it was far and away a more im- 
portant place than its now more opulent neigh- 
bour at the river's mouth. Then it was the 
chief town of Leon, the domain of the De Ro- 
hans 2 one of the ancient Breton baronies. 

At the entrance of one of the principal streets 
— Rue Plouedern — are two curious ancient 
pieces of sculpture, — a lion and a man armed 
with a sword, bearing the inscription " Tire 
Tve." They came from an old house which 
existed here in the sixteen hundreds, and are 

226 Rambles in Brittany 

fitting examples of that curious mediaeval sym- 
bolism which so often crops out in domestic 
and religious architecure. Although the chief 
of Landerneau's ecclesiastical monuments is 
the sixteenth-century edifice dedicated to St. 
Thomas of Canterbury, the Church of St. Hou- 
ardon is a contemporary work of some preten- 
sion; its base Renaissance portico was added 
at a later time. The arms and emblems of the 
De Rohans are conspicuous in both edifices. 

July fifteenth is the great fete-day here- 
about, when the horse-races, boat-races, and 
illuminations attract the peasantry from the 
inland country and the workmen from the dock- 
yards at Brest. 

Five kilometres away is the Chapel of St. 
Eloi of the sixteenth century. This sainted 
personage is represented throughout Finistere 
with the attributes of a bishop and of a horse- 
shoer. Horses are placed under his protection, 
and the Pardon of St. Eloi is celebrated in 
various parts with much merrymaking, and 
always with much firing of guns. A motor-car 
is not beloved here, and if one incidentally or 
accidentally come upon a festival of St. Eloi, 
he had best forthwith make tracks in retreat. 
The actual religious ceremony consists of a 
mounted cavalier riding up to the chapel door 

Finistere 227 

and making a sort of salute or obeisance three 
times from the saddle without putting foot to 
the ground, after which he deposits on the altar 
a packet of horse-hair, or even the tail of a 

In the Forest of Landerneau, six kilometres 
southwest, is the Chateau of " La Joyeuse 
Garde," celebrated in the romance of the chiv- 
alry of King Arthur's time, wherein King Ar 
thur, Lancelot of the Lake, and Tristan of 
Lyonnesse played so great a part. 

Landivisiau, on the main railway line from 
Paris to Brest, has a remarkable church under 
the protection of St. Turiafr*, — which in Bre- 
ton is Tivisian, — who was Archbishop of Dol 
in the eighth century. 

This fine church is a sixteenth-century work, 
and exhibits all the notes of the early period 
of the Renaissance, but, in spite of this, the 
richness of its portal, its bell-tower, its fine 
spire, and its nave and choir rebuilt in the best 
of late Gothic, make it a building to be re- 
marked among the churches of Brittany, which, 
as a rule, have not the ornateness and luxuri- 
ance of ornament of those of Normandy and 
other parts of France. 

The cemetery of Landivisiau has a remark- 
able ossuary, supported by most fantastic 

228 Rambles in Brittany 

shapes, among them a skeleton armed with 
two arrows, a woman in an unmistakably Span- 
ish costume, and a most diabolical Satan. 

The fair-day at Landivisiau is the great cele- 
bration of these parts. It is not so ambitious 
as many of those held elsewhere, but it will 
give the visitor the opportunity of making an 
intimate acquaintance with the Bas Bretons in 
a manner not possible in the larger towns. 

The dress of the people is peculiar, with the 
great baggy trousers of the men, the coifs of 
the women, and the general display and love 
of the finery of bright colours which seem in- 
herent with a people living upon the seacoast. 

In general, their features are heavy and their 
expression more or less sullen, although this 
does not often indicate bad temper. Unques- 
tionably their carriage indicates hard labour, 
and the furrows and ridges of their counte- 
nances come only from continuous contact with 
the open air. Still, their bodies are stout and 
broad, and men and women alike have none of 
the softness and languor of the southern prov- 
inces, albeit the Armorican climate is mild 
throughout the year. 

Opposite Brest, just across the estuary of 
the Elorn, is Plougastel, famous for its melons 

Calvary, Plougastel 

Finistere 229 

and its green peas, and, above all, for its pic- 
turesque calvary. 

The whole peninsula of Plougastel-Daoulas 
is a vast market-garden for Brest, and, for that 
matter, for the hotels at Paris. The verdure 
and vegetable growth is in striking contrast 
to the barren fringe of rocky coast-line, and 
therein lies one of the charms of the whole 
aspect of nature as it is seen here. 

Nothing in Brittany is more picturesque than 
the little villages of Kererault, Roc'hquerezen, 
Roc'huivlen, and Roc'hquillion. This is a com- 
monplace perhaps to those who know the region 
well, but it will not be to strangers, and so it 
is reiterated here. 

The Chapel St. John of Plougastel is perhaps 
two kilometres away. It is here, on the twenty- 
fourth of June of each year, that its pardon 
brings so great a throng of visitors that they 
really have to bring their eatables with them 
or starve, thus making a fast-day of a feast. 

In the cemetery is that great calvary which 
has so often been pictured, the most consid- 
erable work of its kind in existence. 

It was erected 1602 - 04, in memory of a 
plague which fell upon the land in 1598. 

In recent times it has been restored. On the 
front is an altar ornamented with statues of 

230 Rambles in Brittany 

St. Sebastien, St. Pierre, and St. Rocli. The 
frieze shows a multitude of bas-reliefs, illus- 
trating the life of Jesus, and the risers of the 
steps are a series of quaintly carved little peo- 
ple, over two hundred in number. On the 
plinth is a risen Christ and a tablet bearing 
the date of erection of the work. It is a mar- 
vellous expression of religious devotion, and 
far surpasses other wayside shrines in Brit- 
tany, and indeed in all the world. 

The inhabitants of Plougastel have preserved 
their ancient costumes with little or no modern 
interpolation. Particularly is this to be noted 
among the young girls, on a Sunday, as they 
come from the mass, and also on the fifteenth 
of August, when there is a great religious pro- 
cession. The " Pardon of Plougastel " is 
known also as the " Birds' Pardon," for a 
great bird fair is opened St. John's Day. 

On the same side of the Goulet of Brest, that 
narrow inlet which is the entrance from the sea 
to the bay, is Le Conquet. It sits at the very 
tip of Finistere, just above the Pte. St. Mathieu, 
and its great lighthouse, which, with a thirty- 
second eclipse, sends its rays some twenty miles 
out to sea. 

Le Conquet has but fifteen hundred inhab- 
itants, and its isolated population apparently 

Finistere 231 

has not many friends, else the place would 
be filled to overflowing in the summer months, 
which it is not. Its two hotels, St. Barbara 
and Hotel de Bretagne, are all that could be 
expected, and more, hence the paucity of visit- 
ors to this charming bit of " land's end " is 
the more remarkable. 

Anciently Le Conquet was a strong fortified 
place, and it underwent a great number of 
sieges, and was burned by the English in 1558. 
Eight houses alone of the present habitations 
of the town survived the flames. 

The port is frequented only by the fishing- 
smacks, which land vast quantities of lobsters 
and shrimps. 

There is also an ancient pottery here, the 
most ancient in all Finistere. Its pots and pans 
are found in all the homesteads hereabouts, 
and such tourists from all parts as actually do 
come here carry numberless specimens away 
with them. 

The modern church, after the ogival manner, 
is far more satisfactory than most modern 
ecclesiastical monuments. There is a fifteenth- 
century portal, however, and some contem- 
porary statues, which save it from being wholly 
a modern work. 

The coast-line round about is the rough, 

232 Rambles in Brittany 

abrupt ending of the Leon plateau, jagged and 
deeply serrated like the jaws of a shark, as the 
native tells one with respect to about all of the 
Breton coast-line. Fine beaches do exist here 
and there, but in the main it is a stern and rock- 
bound shore that buffets the Atlantic's waves 
in Finistere. 

Three times a week one can make the journey 
by steamboat to Ouessant, which English sailor- 
folk — those who go down to the sea in great 
liners — know as Ushant. The lie Molene and 
the lie Ouessant are the principal members of 
the group, and are even more stern and rock- 
bound than the mainland. 

" Very little comfort on the boat," you will 
be told at the port-office, where you make in- 
quiry as to the hour of departure. Any but 
good sailors and true vagabond travellers had 
best leave the journey out of their itinerary, 
although it has unique interest. 

There are numerous isles and islets to pass 
on the way, and the Chaussee des Pierres Noires 
is a roughly strewn ledge which breathes dan- 
ger in the very spray continually flying over it. 
Molene is a kilometre long and rather more 
than half as wide. If ever the population of 
a sea-girt isle had to take in one another's 
washing in order to make a living, this is the 

Finistere 23; 

place, for nearly six hundred men, women, and 
children make their habitation upon the isle. 

Needless to say there are some things of the 
twentieth-century civilization of which they 
know not, such as automobiles, tram-cars, or 
locomotives. There is not even a donkey en- 
gine on the island, and there are no bicycles 
or perambulators, hence there is something for 
which to be thankful. Considerable quantities 
of vegetables are exported, the population liv- 
ing apparently on fish, and the " farms " are 
divided into plots so small as to be almost in- 

The island is sadly remembered for the part 
it played in the wreck of the great South Af- 
rican liner, the Drummond Castle, in recent 
years. The inhabitants of the isle, poor in this 
world's goods though they were, did much to 
succour the survivors, an act which is writ large 
in the history of life-saving. 

The isle of Ouessant itself has nearly three 
thousand population, and boasts a market and 
a hotel, besides numerous hamlets or suburbs. 
The isle is eight kilometres long, and perhaps 
three and a half wide, and is known to the gov- 
ernment authorities both as a canton and as 
a commune. 

Plinv knew of this rock-bound isle, the fore- 

234 Rambles in Brittany- 

most outpost of France, and called it Uxantos, 
though it was known to the ancient Bretons as 
Enez Heussa. Practically, the island is a table- 
land with an abundance of pure water, and the 
soil very productive so far as new potatoes and 
an early crop of barley go. The cultivation is 
mostly in the hands of the women, the men 
being nearly all engaged in the fisheries, or as 
sailors. Ouessant is a little land of windmills, 
though in no way does it resemble Holland. 
For the most part, they are sturdy stone build- 
ings, and work but lazily, many of them being 
dismantled, as if there were not enough for 
them to do. Some years ago a fort was erected 
here, and a garrison of colonial troops billeted 
upon the island. It is a sad job at best to be 
a soldier in a colonial outpost such as this, and 
whether the observation is just or not, it is 
made, nevertheless, that the appearance of the 
garrison of Ouessant is as though it were made 
up, literally, of the scum of the earth. 

As for history, the lie d 'Ouessant is by no 
means entirely lacking. It was evangelized in 
the sixth century by St. Pol Aurelian, who built 
a chapel here at a spot known as Portz Pol. 

In 1388, the English ravaged the island, and 
the former seigniory was made a marquisate in 
1597, in favour of Rene de Rieux, the governor 

Finistere 235 

of Brest, whose descendants sold their birth- 
right to the king in 1764. 

The glorious battle of Ouessant — at least, 
the French call it "la glorieuse bataille," and 
so it really was — took place in 1778 in the 
neighbouring waters between a French fleet 
under the Comte d'Orvilliers and the English 
Admiral Keppel. 

As may be supposed, these far-jutting, rocky 
islands have been the scene of many ship- 
wrecks. There is a proverb known to mariners 
which classes these Breton isles as follows: 

" Who sights Belle Tie sights his refuge, 
Who sights lie Groix sights joy, 
Who sights Ouessant sights blood." 

When a sailorman of Ouessant is lost at 
sea, his parents or friends bring to his former 
dwelling a little cross of wood, which serves 
the purpose of a corpse, and the clergy officiate 
over it, and his friends weep over it as if it 
were his true body. 

Finally a procession forms, and, with much 
solemnity, this little cross of wood, after having 
been placed in a casket, is deposited at the foot 
of a statue of St. Pol, a sad and glorious sym- 
bol of grief and also of hope. 

The women of Ouessant. whether in mourn- 
ing or not — and they mostly are in mourning 

236 Rambles in Brittany 

— wear a costume of black cloth, cut their hair 
short and wear a square sort of cap. For the 
most part, the inhabitants — all those, in fact, 
who are natives, and there are but few main- 
landers here — speak only Breton. 

The Lighthouse de Creac'h, a white and black 
painted tower, with a magnificent light flash- 
ing its rays twenty-four miles out at sea, is a 
monument to the parental French government, 
which neglects nothing in the way of guarding 
its coasts by modern search-lights, quite the 
best of their kind in all the known world. There 
is another light here known as the Stiff Light- 
house, which carries eighteen miles. 

Near the lighthouse is the tiny chapel of Our 
Lady of Farewells, a place of pilgrimage on 
the day of the local pardon (1st September). 

On the mainland, just north of Brest and 
Le Conquet, on the way to the Channel, is St. 
Kenan, the site of an ancient hermitage founded 
by an anchorite who came from Ireland some 
time in the eighth century. There are many 
quaint sixteenth-century houses here, and a 
large market-house of the spectacular order. 

Ploudalmezeau is an important town of 
Lower Leon with a Hotel Bretagne — as might 
be expected — also most excellent — also as 
might be expected — except for its sanitary 

Lighthouse of Creach, Ouessant 

Finistere 237 

conveniences, which, to say nothing of not being 
up to date, are practically non-existent. It is 
very disconcerting of a rainy autumn morning 
to have to go down to the back yard puits — 
as a pump or well is variously known — in 
order to perform one's ablutions. 

The comparatively modern church is far 
more magnificent than one would expect to find 
in so small a town. It contains a curious statue 
of the Virgin with a Breton coif, and also a 
fine modern fresco by Yan d 'Argent. A thir- 
teenth-century sculptured cross is to be seen 
in the churchyard. 

Folgoet has an important local fair, and is 
celebrated throughout all Brittany for the pil- 
grimage to its magnificent shrine of Our Lady 
of Folgoet, one of the most beautiful ecclesi- 
astical monuments of the province. 

Toward the middle of the fourteenth century 
there lived in the neighbouring forest a poor 
idiot named Salaun, better known as the for- 
est fool ; in Breton, Folgoet. After his death, 
there appeared written on the leaves of a great 
white lily, in letters of gold, the admonition 
to the people to build a great church here to 
the glory of Our Lady, and this was begun in 
1409, and consecrated in 1419 ; it became a col- 
legiate church in 1423. It has neither tran- 

238 Rambles in Brittany 

septs nor apse, but is in every other particular 
a remarkably beautiful work. There are many 
interior furnishings of great value. 

Folgoet is at its best on the great day of the 
pardon, on the eighth of September. 

St. Pol de Leon, Roscoff, and Morlaix call 
the hurried tourist off to the northward, though 
why a tourist ever should be hurried is some- 
thing the true vagabond never can understand. 

Roscoff has much to endear it to any one. 
It has not the loneliness or even the quaintness 
of some of the daintily set seacoast towns of 
the South, but its unique attractions are so 
many and varied that one loves it for itself 
alone, quite as much as if it were a celebrated 
artists' sketching-ground, and far more than 
one would were it a really " popular " resort. 

First of all, it is celebrated for its early veg- 
etables, due principally to the excellence of its 
soil, and secondly to the mildness of its climate. 

Because of its temperate climate, Roscoff 
might be called the Mentone of the North, 
though it is not yet overrun by invalids and 
bath-chairs. Summer and winter, it is a water- 
ing-place, with fir-trees replacing the palms of 
the South. The visitor should remark the enor- 
mous fig-tree in the Capuchins' enclosure, the 
grounds of an ancient convent (1621), which is 



now private property, and costs the sum of 
twenty-five centimes to see. 
The Church of Our Lady of Croaz-Baz, with 

<•»•»'« STuorfr 


its fine domed tower dating from 1550, is one 
of the chief ecclesiastical monuments of Brit- 

Among the many quaint and curious houses 
of the town is one known as the house of Mary 

240 Rambles in Brittany 

Stuart. In its interior court are seven arcades 
supported by columns, quite like a convent 
cloister, a disposition of parts which must be 
purely local, as other examples are to be seen 
elsewhere in the town. Another memory of the 
Scottish queen, whose last, long, sad adieu to 
France is one of the links that never breaks, 
is the Chapel of St. Ninian, built in 1548 as a 
souvenir of her landing when she first came 
to France as the betrothed of the Dauphin. It 
is a most romantically disposed structure, 
though with no architectural details of worth 
except a small turret at an angle jutting over 
the lapping waves. 

Eoscoff has a Chapel des Adieux, where the 
wives and mothers of the fishermen go to pray 
as the men embark for the fishing. 

Offshore, a quarter-hour distant by boat, is 
the Isle of Batz, separated from Koscoff only 
by a narrow strait, with a current so swift that 
the passage is only possible in the best of 
weather. It does not look so very perilous an 
undertaking at other times, but the Eoscoff 
sailorman certainly does know how to handle 
a boat, and when he says " No," it's best not 
to attempt to persuade him to the contrary. 
He will not mind a wetting himself, — if you 
pay him a fair price for the undertaking, — 

Finistere 241 

but he will probably want, and be entitled to, 
a good, fat fee for rescuing his passenger from 

The Isle of Batz, like most places in Brittany, 
has its own legend. It is to the effect that St. 
Pol, coming in 530 from Britain to this low, 
gray, melancholy islet, met a dragon, which, 
having ravaged the neighbouring mainland 
country, had fled hither in order to escape the 
fury of the peasant-folk. 

St. Pol, as became one who had the interests 
of his fellow men at heart, forthwith killed 
the monster, and conveyed the news to the peo- 
ple awaiting his return by rapping on the 
ground with his baton (batz). 

The rise and fall of the tide at the Isle of 
Batz shows remarkable fluctuations, ten metres, 
something more than thirty feet, being noted 
between high and low water. 

Its coast-line has great banks of sand, a de- 
light to the bather in salt water, but the rock 
formations are by no means so remarkable as 
those on most of the Breton isles. The soil 
is arid and there is not much luxuriant vege- 
tation. There is a population of over twelve 
hundred souls, but few apparently have any 
ambition to migrate to the mainland, scarce a 
rifle-shot distant. In the island church is pre- 

242 Rambles in Brittany- 

served the stole of St. Pol, of Byzantine silk. 
If genuine, it has attained a greater age than 
most confections of its class. An ancient Ro- 
man chapel or temple existed here in former 
times, and was succeeded by a monastery 
founded by St. Pol, now in ruins and mostly 
buried in the sands. 

St. Pol's renown became such that a Breton 
king made him Archbishop of Leon, giving him 
special care and control of the city bearing his 
name. These rights came down to the holy 
man's successors, and the place became more 
religious than politic, as one reads in the old- 
time chronicles. The riches which had been 
acquired attracted the Normans, who devas- 
tated the cathedral church in 875. In the four- 
teenth century, Duguesclin occupied the town 
in the name of Charles V. The religious wars 
of the sixteenth century diminished the pros- 
perity of the town, and a bloody submission 
was forced upon the Revolutionary rebels here 
in 1793. 

St. Pol is somewhat doubtfully claimed as 
the native place of the celebrated sixteenth- 
century sculptor, Michel Colomb (1512). 

The Chapel of Creizker or Creis-ker, with 
its astonishing bell-tower piercing the sky at 
a height of nearly 250 feet, owes its origin to 

Finistere 243 

a young girl of Leon, whom St. Kirec, Arch- 
deacon of Leon in the sixth century, had cured 
of paralysis. The present structure is, of 
course, more modern. Albert le Grand fixes the 
date in the fourteenth century, and this is prob- 
ably correct. There are innumerable evidences 
of the best of Gothic workmen, and there is 
much decorative embellishment which, though 
not according to the accepted Gothic forms, 
is certainly not Eenaissance. 

The ancient cathedral merits rank with the 
Chapel of Creizker, and is perhaps even a more 
consistent piece of work, though it represents 
three distinct epochs. The two towers are con- 
siderably less in height than that of the Creiz- 
ker, but they are beautifully spired. The in- 
terior contains innumerable decorative acces- 
sories, making it rank with those cathedrals 
of France making up that third series, of which 
Nantes, Coutances, Narbonne, and Angers are 
the best examples. 

In the choir is the tomb of St. Pol, and his 
skull, an arm bone, and a finger are encased 
in a little coffer for the veneration of the de- 

There is a series of sixty-nine delicately 
sculptured choir-stalls dating from 1512, and, 
although not rivalling such great works of 

244 Rambles in Brittany 

their kind as one sees at their best at Amiens, 
Albi, or Rodez, they are sufficiently elaborate 
to deserve attention. 

Innumerable tombs are set about the choir, 
many of them curiously and characteristically 

There is also a tiny bell which passes for 
having belonged to St. Pol. On the days of 
pardon the notes of this ancient bell still ring 

out over the heads of the faithful, who believe 
that they will cure any malady of the head or 

In one of the chapels of the Cathedral of St. 
Pol de Leon is an ancient painting. It depicts 
a head with three visages, with the legend in 
Gothic-Breton characters, " Ma Douez " (Man 
Bleu). It represents, of course, the Trinity, 
but, like many religious symbols, is more gro- 
tesque than devout. 

Morlaix, the ancient Mons Eelaxus of Roman 

Finistere 245 

times, is the metropolis of the northwestern 
Breton coast. It achieved no great importance, 
until it came under the sway of the Breton 
dukes, and became one of their principal resi- 
dences. The inhabitants of Morlaix declared 
for the League in the period of the religious 
wars, and the castle was besieged and carried 
by the troops of the king under Marshal d'Au- 
mont, in 1594. 

Being at the head of the great bay of Mor- 
laix, or, rather, just above it, at the juncture 
of the rivers Jarlot and Quefflent, the city en- 
joys a novel situation, and contains many curi- 
ous contrasting effects of the old and new order 
of things. 

The Viaduct of Morlaix, by which the railway 
traverses the town, is really an imposing sight, 
and is reckoned as the chief of its class in all 
France. The natives show an astonishing 
vagueness or ignorance with regard thereto. 
You will be told that it was the work of the 
Romans, — " very ancient, look you," — and 
again that it was one of the works of the in- 
defatigable Vauban, who must really have 
worked in his sleep, or through understudies, 
if all the works attributed to him throughout 
France be genuine. Vauban must have been 
to France what Michelangelo was to the uni- 

246 Rambles i n Brittany 

verse, — according to the genial, though skep- 
tical, Mark Twain. 

The Church of St. Martin in the Fields is the 
chief ecclesiastical monument of Morlaix, in 
point of antiquity at least, as it dates from the 
ancient priory foundation of 1128, by Herve, 
Count of Leon. 

The Church of St. Melaine originated also 
in the fifteenth-century priory of the same 
name, founded by Guyormarc'h de Leon. 

The local museum, which is an unusually 
splendid establishment for a town the size of 
Morlaix, possesses a collection of modern paint- 
ings, including a great number of Breton 
scenes, forming a wonderfully interesting ex- 
position of Breton manners and customs. 

There are innumerable old houses in wood 
and stone here, and they put Morlaix in the 
rank with Lisieux, in Normandy, for its pictur- 
esque and tumble-down effects of the domestic 
architecture of other days. 

One of the finest examples of a great house 
of its time is that called Pouliguen, which has 
a fine carved wood staircase that no one can 
afford to miss seeing. 

The harbour of Morlaix opens out widely 
into the channel, and is commanded by the 
Chateau du Taureau, in reality a granite for- 

Carved Wood Staircase, Morlaix 



tress, one of the military defences of the north 
coast. St. Jean du Doigt and the Point of 
Primel lie some twenty kilometres north of 
Morlaix, directly on the coast. The former is 
the scene of one of the most picturesque of 
pardons and is celebrated throughout Brittany. 
Its name comes from its church (1440 - 1513), 
in which the index finger of the right hand of 
St. John the Baptist is kept. The churchyard 


Procession of Sailors, St. Jean du Doigt 

has a fine Gothic entrance gateway and a fu- 
neral chapel of the sixteenth century. Within 
the same enclosure is also an elaborate foun- 
tain surrounded by a Renaissance construction 
of much beauty. It was planned by Anne of 
Brittany, who brought an artist from Italy to 
design the work. The Pardon of St. Jean du 
Doigt takes place on the twenty-fourth of June 
of each year. Decidedly it is not to be omitted 
from one's itinerary, if it be possible to in- 
clude it. 

248 Rambl es in Brittany 

It is one of the strangest survivals of the 
belief in an ancient holy relique yet existing 
in France, and annually attracts great hordes 
of the devout from all parts of Brittany and 
France, to say nothing of strangers from over- 

A good motor-car is indispensable to enable 
one to flee from the throng after it is all over, 
for the railway lies at least a dozen miles away, 
and local conveyances are scarce, poor, and 



The north coast of Brittany, the present-day 
Department of the Cotes du Nord, is the great 
stretch of coast-line between Morlaix on the 
west to the Bay of Mont St. Michel at Dol. 
Its large towns are few in number, but the 
whole region is unusually prolific in the mem- 
ory of deeds of a historic past, and accordingly 
it has become the favourite touring-ground of 
a great number of French and English summer 
visitors who, it is regretfully stated, have be- 
come responsible for a good deal of the clap- 
trap and many of the catchpenny devices. 

It is possible to avoid casinos, tea-rooms, and 
golf-links, but they are more abundant here in 
the neighbourhood of Dinan, St. Malo, and 
Dinard than in most other parts of Continental 
Europe. This is a pity, for the region is one 
of the most delightfully picturesque anywhere, 
although there is little of the grandeur of deso- 
lation about it. 


250 Rambles in Brittany 

A great national road runs northwesterly 
from Guingamp to Lannion and Treguier, two 
outposts of the Cotes du Nord so far off the 
beaten track that they are not as yet overrun 
with the conventional tourists. There is little 
at either place to amuse one, except the local 
manners and customs, but they are quaint and 
interesting beyond belief, and the wonderful 
combinations of sea and sky, which will make 
the artist's heart leap for joy. 

Lannion boasts of six thousand inhabitants, 
most of whom play at bowls on Sunday or a 
feast-day, and other days engage in the sundry 
humble pursuits of the usual Breton large town. 

The name Lannion first appeared in the 
twelfth century, when the seigniory of Lannion 
formed a part of the domain of the house of 
Penthievre, which was united with that of Brit- 
tany in 1199. 

There are three quaint and charming hotels 
at Lannion, at any of which you will get the 
best of local fare at prices ranging from 120 
to 220 francs per month — all found. One will 
not go wrong at any of them, and one does 
not differ greatly from another, in spite of 
the difference in price. There is an abun- 
dance of what is commonly known as good 
cheer, by which is really meant good fare, and 

The Cotes du Nord 251 

there are comfortable beds, a sound roof over 
one's head, and genial hosts, of course. 

This estimable person is literally everywhere 
at once, showing the guests to their rooms, pre- 
siding at the table, or, at least, at the serving 
of it, and generally overseeing everything that 
goes on. 

" Allons, messieurs, a table," is called, in a 
melodious voice, instead of the ringing of the 
usual brain-racking bell, and one by one travel- 
ling salesmen, the permanent guests, and the 
mere tourists seat themselves at the long table, 
which literally groans — like those in the his- 
torical novels — with the best of country cook- 
ery. There is nothing Parisian about it ; there 
are no ices, no forced fruit, and no savoury 
messes with mushrooms and truffles, but there 
is the abundant and excellent local fare of sea 
food, hung mutton, new potatoes and aspara- 
gus, and little wood strawberries in heaps, and 
that delightful golden cider, which, if it be not 
an improvement on the Norman variety, is just 
as good, and a delightful summer drink. 

The fine location of Lannion, on the right 
bank of the estuary of the little river Leguer, 
accounts for much of the local charm, and the 
habit that the population has of grouping itself 
picturesquely about the quay-side — without 

252 Rambles in Brittany 

the least provocation — accounts for a good 
deal more. 

There are many old houses in the town, and 
other more pretentious architectural monu- 
ments, offering enough variety to the artist 
or lover of architecture to occupy him a long 

The port is a harbour of refuge, of which 
there are not many on the north coast of Brit- 
tany, and the traffic in salmon and sardines is 
considerable, though not rivalling in bulk that 
of the greater ports in the southwest. 

Treguier has much the same attractions as 
Lannion, though its population is but half as 
large. Its origin was some huts which anciently 
grouped themselves around the monastery of 
Trecar, founded by St. Tugdal in the sixth cen- 
tury. It has an imposing cathedral, a really 
great religious edifice, and one which for the 
beauty of its parts is scarcely excelled by that 
of Quimper itself. 

The history of Treguier was very lively, 
from the time of the Norman invasion of Brit- 
tany down through the troublous days of the 

The men of Treguier, one learns from his- 
tory, accepted the law of the " rights of man " 
but coldly, and indeed M. le Mintier, Bishop of 

The Cotes du Nord 


Treguier, was one of those churchmen barred 
from the National Assembly by the manifesto. 
He fled to Jersey. 

Treguier is the native place of Ernest Renan 

OLOHOUSE. i'e*. 

(1823 - 92), and his quaint, timbered house may 
well be considered a literary shrine of the very 
first rank. 

Convents, where women may find a quiet 
refuge away from the world, are not so numer- 
ous as they once were in France. " Boarding- 
houses kept for unprotected women by nuns, 


Rambles in Brittany 

House of Ernest Renan, Tre'gtiier 

with a supposed Christian devotion and a pro- 
found appreciation of ready money," was the 
way in which an English writer once spoke of 
them, and it was most unfair. Certainly, the 

The Cotes du Nord 255 

writer of those lines never knew — and she pro- 
fessed to know France — the Convent of the 
Cross at Treguier, where women can live in 
quiet seclusion, " all found," for a matter of 
seventy-five francs a month. To those inter- 
ested, the above may be worth investigation. 

Not far off is the Manor of Kermartin, 
where, in 1255, St. Yves, the patron saint of 
advocates, was born. 

On the nineteenth of May a procession sets 
out from the Treguier cathedral for this shrine, 
to render homage to the patron of the men 
of law. On the eve of the nineteenth all mendi- 
cants and vagabonds presenting themselves at 
the manor are fed and lodged, which makes the 
perpetuation of the ceremony one of real ben- 
efit to humanity, though its endurance is brief. 

St. Yves is the only canonized Breton saint. 
He was born on the seventh of October, 1253, 
and accompanied Peter of Dreux, reigning 
duke, to the seventh crusade. 

In the Breton tongue his praises are sung as 
follows : 

" N'hen eus ket en Breiz, n'hen eus ket unan, 
N'hen eus ket eur Zant evel Sant Erwan." 

This in French comes to the following: 

" II n'y a pas en Bretagne, il n'y en a pas un, 
H n'y a pas nn Saint comme St. Yves." 


Rambles in Brittany 

The last will and testament of St. Yves is 
preserved in the sacristy of the Church de 
Minihy, and also his breviary. His tomb is 
in the cemetery, surmounted by an arcade 

Shrine of St. Yves, Treguier 

through which the faithful pass, crawling 
upon their knees when they seek his aid. 

Not many travellers in France have ever 
even heard of Seven Isles, situated five kilo- 
metres or more off the coast near Treguier. 
The corsairs of Jersey and Guernsey took ref- 

The Cotes du Nord 257 

uge upon this little archipelago in the olden 
time, and long maintained a form of govern- 
ment quite of their own making, and even 
erected fortifications, of which that on the lie 
aux Moines has still some suggestion of 

Usually quite deserted, there are two sea- 
sons of the year when the isles take on a pop- 
ulation of residents from the mainland entirely 
out of keeping with their size and number: 
in February for seaweed gathering, and from 
June to September for the gathering of sea- 
mosses, or jargot, as the natives call it. One 
who would experience something out of the 
ordinary could not do better than make this 
little excursion. The passage from the main- 
land does not look so very terrible to the 
stranger, but not even the hardy fishermen will 
attempt it if the sky is the least threatening. 
He says simply, " Only go out in very fine 
weather,' ' and sits tight and prays and whistles 
for that same fine weather, though he evidently 
does not expect it to come very soon, for with 
every bit of fleecy cloud that crosses his vision, 
he exclaims: " Big storm soon! " 

Paimpol is situated at the head of a well- 
sheltered bay on the banks of an infinitesimal 
little river known as Quinic. There is nothing 

258 Rambles in Brittany 

to mark Paimpol as a tourist resort, and ac- 
cordingly it is almost an ideal resting-place for 
one wearied with the onrush of the world. It 
is not even a bathing-place, as it well might 
be. Its long Rue de l'Eglise is its principal 
thoroughfare, and through it all the small traf- 
fic of the town circulates at a most sedate pace. 

The church dates from the thirteenth cen- 
tury, and is a lovely old structure with admi- 
rable Gothic pillars and arches in its nave, and 
a fine fourteenth-century rose window. 

The port of Paimpol has a most interesting 
rise and fall of life, particularly at the season 
of the setting out and the return of the Iceland 
fishermen. In the trade in codfish caught off 
the Icelandic coasts, this place occupies the first 
rank, being the home port of those who fish in 
Icelandic waters, and all along the quays of 
the sad little town of Paimpol (sad, because 
there are so many widows there, — the lone 
partners of those who have lost their lives at 
sea) are to be seen the Iceland schooners. 
Everything in the town smacks of the memory 
of Iceland: the schooners, the ex-votos in the 
churches, the widows, the sturdy but gloomy 
fisherfolk themselves, and the stones in the 
churchyard. " The Iceland fog enshrouds 
everything," the native tells you, but still the 

The Cotes du Nord 259 

work goes on, and each year, with the coming 
of the spring days, the exodus begins, after a 
winter's hard work at refurbishing and refit- 
ting of the little two-masters and three-masters 
of the fishers. It is here that one may hear 
that Breton sailor's prayer, which is so devout 
and full of faith: " Mon Dieu protege nous, 
car la mer est si grand et nos bateaux si petit s." 

Cod, whale, mackerel, and herring are all 
marketable products to the nets of the Paim- 

The Isle of Brehat is near Paimpol, lying 
just off the coast. If one seek to arrange a 
passage, thereto, he goes by public carriage, 
and not by boat, until he gets to the tip of the 
Pointe Arcouest, when he transfers himself 
and his luggage to a sailboat, and travels as 
one did before the age of steam. 

The Isle of Brehat is another of those rocky 
islets which dot the coast of Brittany, and look 
not only as if they were barren and unculti- 
vated, but as if they were also uninhabited. 
All the same, their appearance from a distance 
is misleading. There are close upon a thou- 
sand inhabitants on the parent isle and the 
attendant flock of little islets sheltered under 
its wing. In the olden time, the island was a 
strong place of war, with batteries and forti- 

260 Rambles in Brittany 

fications against which the English, the Lea- 
guers, and the Royalists tried their strength in 

The isle is what the sailor-folk roundabout 
call " a good port of refuge," for there are 
divers little sheltered harbours to which ships 
of all classes can run from the storms of the 
open sea. 

The principal town is known as Brehat, and 
possesses a church dating from 1700, a tiny 
hotel, and an inn or two, mostly catering to 
local customers. If one would leave the main- 
land, and its questionable attractions of civi- 
lization behind, and live the simple life to the 
full, he can do it here to the most exquisite 
degree, — if he does not mind the sea-fogs of 
the winter. 

Guingamp, lying inland in the rich valley 
of the Trieux, is the market-town of the arron- 
dissement of the same name. It is of feudal 
origin, and was the ancient capital of the count- 
ship, later the duchy, of Penthievre, and of the 
ancient Goello land. 

Guingamp Castle is a great square building, 
flanked by four massive towers, of which one 
has been practically destroyed. 

The Church of Our Lady of Good Help, of 
the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, is a mag- 

The Cotes du Nord 


nificent work of its era, with an elaborately 
furnished interior. 

The Pardon of Bon Secours is Guingamp's 
gayest event of all the year. In numbers, it is 
one of the largest in Brittany, and is held on 
the Saturday before the first Sunday in July. 
On this occasion the statue of 
Our Lady, within the porch of 
the church, is clad in a silken 
robe, and receives the pilgrims, 
who refresh themselves with 
water previously consecrated 
at its source. With the fall of 
the sun commences a continual 
round of national dances, in- 
spired by the lonesome, sharp, 
shrill wail of the binious, 
played in much the same way 
as are + he Scotch bagpipes, ex- 
cept that their music is even 
more shrill and heartrending — if possible. At 
nine o'clock the statue of the Virgin is brought 
to the public square, solemnly conveyed by an 
immense procession, and three great bonfires 
are lighted. At midnight a high mass termi- 
nates the celebration, and some of the pilgrims 
depart, and others remain for the banquet 
which invariably follows. 


262 Rambles in Brittany 

On the eighth of September, 1857, the Ma- 
donna of Guingamp received the crown of gold 
from the chapter of St. Peter's at Rome, on 
behalf of the Pope, a distinction offered to 
images of the Virgin uniting the three traits 
of antiquity, popularity, and miracle-working. 

' ' La Pompe, ' ' or the Fontaine, in hammered 
lead, is one of the chief artistic curiosities of 
Guingamp. It is a remarkable work in every 
way, and dates from 1588, since which time it 
has only been repaired — not reconstructed. 
Its preservation is wonderful, and it is an em- 
bellishment of which even a greater town 
might well be proud. 

Aside from the fragment of the castle, there 
are no mediaeval gateways or walls to remind 
one of the military importance of the place 
in former days. A century and a quarter ago, 
a traveller wrote : l ' Enter Guingamp by gate- 
ways, towers, and battlements of the oldest 
military architecture, every part denoting 
antiquity, and in the best preservation.' ' All 
this, unhappily, has disappeared, and one has 
to go to Vitre and Fougeres to see military 
architecture in Brittany. 

Eastward from Guingamp toward St. Brieuc, 
one passes — the traveller by road or rail sel- 
dom stops — Chatelaudren. It is a conven- 

The Cotes du Nord 263 

tional Breton small town, but it is a market- 
town, nevertheless. It has not much of inter- 
est for any one unless he be a keen observer 
of manners and customs, hence it is but a way 
station between the two larger towns. 

St. Brieuc is a city, although it has no tram- 
cars to dodge and no restaurants or Hotels 
Etrangers, which is a good thing for the native 
and the tourist alike. 

In reality its half-dozen hotels rise to the 
distinction of being known as " establish- 
ments," yet they have lost none of their local 
flavour. St. Brieuc is the metropolis where 
the summer visitors — Parisians all — of the 
beaches come to buy the little necessaries and 
luxuries which a mere watering-place fails to 
supply. Then, too, one who is rusticating, even 
in a delightful spot like Val Andre, lacks no- 
tably the inspiration coming from a more or 
less frequent contact with a large centre, and 
so he hies himself to a market-town, gets the 
fare of the country at a hotel for travelling 
salesmen, and has a bit of the transmitted gos- 
sip of the capital over a bock at the principal 
cafe; after this — voild! the seaside again for 
a time. 

This may not be the Anglo-Saxon way of 

264 Rambles in Brittany 

treating a similar situation, but it is exactly 
after the French method. 

St. Brieuc is the seat of a bishopric, suffra- 
gan of the metropolitan see of Brittany at 
Kennes. Its origin is due to a missionary who 
came with eight disciples at the end of the fifth 
century to evangelize Armorica. As a place of 
pilgrimage, — the tomb of St. Brieuc having 
become a shrine, — it soon began to draw 
throngs from all parts, and the importance of 
the city which grew up around the memory of 
the missionary was soon assured. 

The cathedral of St. Brieuc was begun by 
St. William Pinchon before the middle of the 
thirteenth century, and was soon finished. 

Its exterior presents the severe and austere, 
though beautiful, Gothic of its time, but the 
accessories of its interior arrangements show 
plainly the debasement of the later interpola- 
tions, although there are some really excellent 
details hidden away amid a profusion of medi- 
ocrities, notably the tomb of St. William, a 
fine Way of the Cross by a local sculptor, and 
a low, hanging gallery at the base of the choir, 
which is a remarkably beautiful and effective 
adjunct to a great church. The exterior is 
more impressive, though its two principal door- 
ways have been badly restored or rebuilt at 

The Cotes du Nord 265 

some time since the completion of the edifice. 
The great, gaunt, donjon-like towers are the 
chief features of beauty and distinction, and 
tell the story of the whole fabric in quite an un- 
assailable manner. 

At the town hall is a museum which has some 
good modern art works, including a fragment 
of Rodin's Portes de l'Enfer and some notable 
paintings of Breton subjects. 

In the Rue St. Jacques and the Rue Fardel 
are many old houses, one of the most notable 
being the hotel of the Dukes of Brittany, begun 
in 1572 by Yvon Collou. James II. of England 
lodged here when he came to St. Brieuc in 1689. 

The carved and decorated fronts of these old 
wooden houses lend a quaintness and charm to 
the streets of St. Brieuc, in strong contrast to 
the modernity of its hotels and cafes. There 
is considerable and varied local industry at St. 
Brieuc, and this gives the city some importance 
as a manufacturing centre, but the chief events 
of its commercial life are the great fairs held 
in July and September, the latter founded in 
the fifteenth century by Marguerite of Clisson. 

The environs of St. Brieuc are charmingly 
diversified, from the wide open stretches of 
farming country at the south to the wastes of 

266 Rambles in Brittany 

rock and sand flanking the great Bay of St. 

Le Legue is the port of St. Brieuc, and the 
coastwise traffic is considerable. The quays 
and docks, ship-houses and careening wharfs 
lend a novel and interesting aspect to a back- 
ground of thickly wooded river-banks. The 
seaward entrance of the channel is protected 
by a fifth-class light. The port is the first in 
rank in the Cotes du Nord for the fitting out 
of the Newfoundland and Iceland fishing- 

The Tower of Cesson, three kilometres or 
more from St. Brieuc, is a simple circular 
tower, surrounded by a double protecting fosse 
cut perpendicularly into the rock. The walls 
are quite twelve feet in thickness on the lower 
of its four floors. It was built by Duke 
Jean IV. in 1395, and, after much strife and 
bloodshed, extending over two centuries, was 
laid in ruins by Henry IV. in 1598. 

On the shores of the Bay of St. Brieuc are 
innumerable little beaches which are healthful 
breathing-spots for large numbers of Parisian 
folk, who come thither between June and Sep- 
tember of each year. 

These are not exactly riotous resorts of fash- 
ion, but still there are some evidences of the 

The Cotes du Nord 


distractions of the world that make most of 
them appear as little parochial Parises. There 
are two spots on the western shore of the bay 
to which this does not apply, however, Etables 
and Binic. 

Binic, a small fishing port of Brittany, has 
all the attractions of an unworldly seaside vil- 
lage, for it is not much more even to-day. 


After Binic, Etables, and after Etables, Binic. 
Each is much the same as the other. Binic 
has been a great-little port for the fitting out 
of ships for the Newfoundland fisheries ever 
since the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
and things go on in much the same way as of 
old, except that the master of the craft now 
has a megaphone and a patent log in his equip- 
ment, whereas formerly he went without these 

268 Rambles in Brittany 

refinements of navigation. To the Newfound- 
land fishermen of Binic is due a special prep- 
aration of the codfish known as benicasser, of 
which the dictionaries will tell one nothing, but 
which is simply a species of cured codfish. 

The high altar of Binic church was bought 
with funds contributed as a result of the Sun- 
day fishing on the Newfoundland banks. It 
can, therefore, be said to have a real reason for 
being, and, as it is an unusually ornate affair, 
one infers that the Sunday haul must be of 
goodly proportions. 

From St. Brieuc eastward, until one actually 
comes within the confines of that delectable 
land known as the Emerald Coast, — the sum- 
mer rival of that winter paradise, the Blue 
Coast, — is a verdant land of crops and cultures 
which would quite change the opinions of any 
who thought Brittany a sterile, rock-bound 
land, where nothing could grow but onions and 
new potatoes. 

Lamballe is a sort of a faint shadow of St. 
Brieuc. It was founded in feudal times, and 
from 1134 to 1420 was the capital of the county 
of Penthievre. As late as the eighteenth cen- 
tury, the oldest son of the Due de Penthievre 
bore the title of Prince of Lamballe. 

The town is divided into the upper and lower 

The Cotes du Nord 269 

towns. In the latter are found those old set- 
tlers of ducal times, the houses of wood and 
stone still standing to delight the eye of the 
artist and to arouse the wonder of the general 

There is a fine Gothic Church of Our Lady, 
its foundations cut in the very rock itself, and 
bearing, from more than one point of view, 
the aspect of a fortified edifice, which has a bat- 
tlemented roof that is nothing if not an indi- 
cation that the church of Dol was a truly mili- 
tant edifice. As the chapel of the old chateau, 
this church grew up from a foundation of St. 
William Pinchon, Bishop of St. Brieuc in 1220. 

St. Martin's is the church of an ancient pri- 
ory belonging to the parent house of Marmou- 
tier. It was founded in 1083 by Geoffrey I., 
Count of Lamballe. Its primitive nave shows 
a remarkable series of horseshoe arches, and 
in every way, not excepting the great sixteenth- 
century towers, St. Martin's is quite the most 
interesting architectural monument of Lam- 

North of Lamballe lies Val Andre. A charm- 
ing watering-place much frequented by fami- 
lies, is the way the all-powerful Western Kail- 
way advertises this little seaside beach and its 
attractions, with the added few lines to the 

270 Rambles in Brittany 

effect that there is a large hotel with a casino, 
regattas, nautical celebrations, concerts, etc., 
which are supposed to amuse the fastidious 
summer visitors. 

It is all very delightful, particularly as the 
coast-line near by is charming of itself, but 
Val Andre, with all its attractions, has not half 
the charm of the little fishing port of Binic on 
the opposite shore of the Bay of St. Brieuc. 



The Emerald Coast is the passion chiefly of 
those who come to live during the three sum- 
mer months of rustication, but the sister cities 
of St. Servan, Parame and St. Malo, Dinard 
and Dinan, are lovely spots and attractive of 
themselves, were one forced to camp out on 
one of the barren, jagged rocks with which the 
coast hereabouts is strewn, instead of living 
at the Hotel of France and Chateaubriand, 
which encloses the ancient maison of Chateau- 
briand, at St. Malo. Starting thence, one ex- 
plores the wonderful country round about, and 
nourishes himself and makes himself comfort- 
able with all the modern refinements. This 
hotel is about the only modern thing in St. 
Malo, however, for, while highly interesting 
to the antiquary or to the student of architec- 
ture or of art, it is commonly thought to be a 
vile, dirty hole, with a few shops convenient 


272 Rambles in Brittany 

for the inhabitants of the more aristocratic 
suburbs of Parame and St. Servan. 

St. Malo is a curious little city, with its ever 
apparent past not in the least disturbed by the 
steamboats and electric trams, which bring vis- 
itors to the base of its ancient fortifications 
and gateways. Among its chief reminders of 
the past are its proud chateau, redolent of the 
memory of the beautiful Duchess Anne, its fine 
cathedral, its quaint old houses and narrow 
streets, and its wonderful encircling ramparts. 

Not only is St. Malo a city of the past, but 
it is above all, to-day, a resort, as that elastic 
term is known which covers any place where 
tourists congregate for pleasure. 

Kiosks, coffee-rooms, and bathing-cabins 
have taken the place of whatever may have 
gone before, and to-day, truly, one may be as 
comfortably up to date — if there is any real 
comfort in being up to date — as if he were 
in Budapest, Paris, or San Francisco. St. 
Malo is considerably more than this ; it is the 
actual, if not the geographical, centre of the 
whole Emerald Coast. 

The praises of the Emerald Coast have been 
sung by many poets, and pictured by many 
painters. Jean Eichepin, that rare vagabond, 
comes frequently for his inspiration to St. 


The Emerald Coast 273 

Jacut-de-la-Mer, and in his " Honest Folk " 
there are superb descriptions of this entrancing 
combination of sea and shore, which in all 
France is not elsewhere equalled, unless it be 
on the Riviera. 

The Emerald Coast must indeed be the para- 
dise for jaded literary workers, when work 
makes its inroads on their holiday, for it may 
enable them to accomplish as much as Ferdi- 
nand Brunetiere admitted during a recent stay 
at Dinard-St. Enogat: 

" What do I read? " said he. " These: 

" 1. The 240 pages which make up the Re- 
vue des deux Mondes every fortnight. 

" 2. The manuscripts which may become fu- 
ture pages of the Review, and even some 
which may not. 

" 3. Works which have not appeared in the 
Review, whose authors I may find it worth 
while to know and cultivate. 

" 4. Journals in which the Revieiv is inter- 

" 5. The Official Journal, from which one 
may always pick up something. 

" 6. The other papers. 

" 7. Works submitted for the approval of 
the French Academy. 

" 8. Proof-sheets of my own works. 

274 Rambles in Brittany 

" 9. The books necessary for the preparation 
of my discourses, lectures, and articles." 

The puzzle is what a man like M. Brunetiere 
will find to do in the next world. Probably he 
will go about to all the celebrated writers to 
see what they thought of his criticisms in his 
dearly loved Review; and then perhaps he will 
regret, as Herbert Spencer is said to have re- 
gretted, that he had not gone fishing oftener. 

The charms of St. Malo's suburban social 
colony of Parame, such as they are, though they 
differ greatly from the mere attractions of na- 
ture, — for which society folk really care for 
only as an accessory to their more futile pleas- 
ures, — are best set forth in the following 
stanzas of Jehan Valter : 

« PARAMtf 


" Quel est de Biarritz a Calais 
Le seul bain de mer, qui jamais, 
Faute de baigneurs, n'a ch6me ? 
C'est Parame ! 

« Oil le soleil a l'horizon 
Montre-t-il en chaque saison 
Son disque toujours enflamm.6 ? 
A Parame ! 

« Oil le froid est-il inconnu, 
Ou peut-on se promener nu 

The Emerald Coast 275 

Sans avoir peur d'etre enrhume" ? 
A Param6 ! 

" Le soir, on danse au Casino, 
Non aux sons d'un mauvais piano, 
Mais d'un orchestre renommS 
A Paraine" ! 

" Sur la plage on reve d'ainour, 
La nuit aussi bien que le jour 
Que de baigneuses out aim6 I 
A ParamS ! 

" Est-ce l'air qui porte a la peau ; 
Est-ce le soleil, est-ce l'eau? 
Chacun sort du bain ranim6 
A Par am 6 I 

" Et c'est un miracle constant, 
Le plus ch6tif, en un instant, 
Est en athlete transform^ 
A Param6 ! 

" Du reste, miracle plus fort, 
Jamais personne ici n'est mort, 
On ne connait pas d'inhume' 
A Param6 ! 

" A vous tous, gandins rabougris 
Qui d6pe>issez a Paris, 
Venez humer l'air embaume" 
De Paraine" ! 

" Vous ne le regretterez pas : 
On y fait d'excellents repas, 
Et le cidre est fort estiine' 
A Par am 4 ! 

276 Rambles in Brittany 

" Done, sur l'honneur, je vous le dis, 
A d^faut du vrai paradis, 
II n'est sur terre, en r6sum6, 
Que Parame ! " 

That is about the sort of round that one gets 
at Parame, with motor-cars, golf, and bridge 
parties thrown in, but a wonderful aspect of 
nature to be seen at every turn, and it is per- 
haps small wonder that the little summer col- 
ony has now grown to huge proportions. 

Americans should have a special interest in, 
and a fondness for, St. Malo, " the city of the 

St. Malo is the chief town of the province 
of Jacques Cartier, the discoverer of Canada. 
" It is a city of great men and the chief place 
of the Breton middle class/' said the Abbe 
Jalobert in his curious work on St. Malo and 
St. Servan. 

There is some truth in calling St. Malo the 
" corsair stronghold, ' ' for it was the cradle 
of Mahe de la Bourdonnais, Duguay-Trouin, 
Surcouf, and their followers, all " sea-rovers " 
if they were not something more. 

To-day St. Malo's " sea-rovers " are the 
sailors of the Newfoundland fishing-fleet, the 
humble " terre-neuvas," as they are known, 

The Emerald Coast 277 

who go in large numbers to fish for cod on the 
Grand Banks of Newfoundland. 

" I's sont partis de Saint-Malo, 
Fs sont partis de Saint-Malo, 
Tous ben portants, vaillants et biaux. 
In* troun' derin tra lonlaire 1 
In' troun' denn' tra lonla 1 " 

sings Yann Nibor in his " Sea Songs and Sto- 

The city's older reputation as the city of the 
corsairs gave quite a different interpretation, 
however : 


" Si dans son aire, aujourd'hui tombe, 
Elle ouit de rudes chansons ! 
Dont le souvenir donne au monde 
Des frissons. 

" La gothique fleche de pierre 
De son clocher audacieux 
S'elance comme un rapiere 
Vers les cieux." 

— Dabouchet. 

Duguay-Trouin is an almost mythical char- 
acter, but many of his legendary exploits sound 
plausible. He took an English ship mounting 
forty guns when he owned to but sixteen years, 
and in a following campaign — practically on 
his own account it would seem — he captured 

278 Ra mbles in Brittany 

two vessels of war and twelve merchant-ships 
from nnder the guns of a British squadron. 
This, at least, is the French version, and since 
all of us, in our agile days, love a daring hero, 
— even if he be a bloodthirsty one, — it seems 
a pity to probe the assertion too deeply. 

Such a man as Duguay-Trouin was, of course, 
popular, and his sailors sang his praises in 
the street in lines which came to be taken up 
by the " stay-at-homes ' ' and incorporated into 
a kind of folk-lore. Indeed, gentle mothers 
sang their infants to sleep with them, much as 
did old Mother Goose of the nursery rhymes: 

" Monsieur Duguay t'envoye" 
Un tambour de l'Achille 
Pour demander a ces braves guerriers 
S'ils veulent capituler. 

" Les dames du chateau 
S'sont mis a la feneire, 
Monsieur Duguay apaisez vos canons, 
Avec vous je composerez." 

Not always does the stranger to St. Malo 
hear exactly this offhand, but invariably he is 
met with a singsong of sailors' chanteys which 
at once call up memories of seafarers of other 

One enters St. Malo, whether by boat or 
train, through the city walls. The boat lands 

The Emerald Coast 279 

you directly under the frowning ramparts, and 
a worthy porter will take your portmanteau 
and carry it twenty steps to the door of your 
hotel, just within the gateway of the city — 
and charge you twenty sous for the job. " A 
franc, really," the man with the brass badge 
tied on his right arm will reply to your query 
as to whether you have heard aright. 

" Twenty cents for twenty steps is a little 
high," says the hostess of your hotel, but it 
is the tariff from outside. 

St. Malo is still a walled city, much as it was 
in the days when Francis I., in 1518, and 
Charles IX., in 1570, held court here. 

Charles IX., his mother Catharine, and his 
sister Margaret spent a part of the month of 
May here in this city by the sea. The Malou- 
ins gave the court a spectacle of an imitation 
naval combat, in which a galleon was sunk; 
too realistically, one thinks, for its occupants 
were drowned. 

At one time, it is said by the chronicles, St. 
Malo was guarded by fierce mastiffs, the de- 
scendants, it is to be presumed, of the Gallic 
dogs of war. These municipal watch-dogs were 
suppressed in 1770, because of their having 
bitten the " calves of gentlemen." Presuma- 
bly there was a complaint of some sort, but 

280 Ra mbles in Brittany 

the only record of the incident is one in verse 
sung by Desaugiers as follows : 

" Bon voyage, 
Cher du Mollet, 
A Saint-Malo d6barquez sans naufrage, 
Et revenez si ce pays vous plait." 

The disappearance of the watch-dogs in 1770 
made necessary the adoption of a new coat of 
arms for the town, when the blazoning of ar- 
gent, a dog gules, gave way to a " portcullis 
surmounted by an ermine passant/' 

One has heard before now the phrase, " I 
like St. Malo in spite of its smell," and, in 
spite of the truth of it, — and there is a very 
apparent justification of the word, — the old 
city is one of the most lovable in all Brittany. 

The House of Duguay-Trouin at St. Malo is 
one of its chief romantic shrines before which 
strangers are wont to linger. It is simply an 
old wooden-fronted house, sombre and austere 
in its upper stories, but resplendent in white 
paint below. A shoe-shop and a coffee-room 
occupy the lower floor, and if one would con- 
jure up the days of the past, when pirates bold 
discussed their venturesome plans in the very 
same room, let him enter and drink his after- 
dinner coffee by the pale light of a guttering 

The Emerald Coast 



House of Duguay-Trouin, St. Malo 

candle in this old abode of romance. There 
is nothing of luxury about it; in fact, most 
worshippers are content to bow before the 
shrine from without; but to awaken the live- 

282 Rambles in Brittany 

liest emotions, one must really enter and see 
it from the inside. 

St. Malo, besides its stock sights of romance 
and history situated within the city itself, has 
a literary shrine of the first rank in the island 
of Grand Be just offshore. Here is the tomb 
of Chateaubriand, ambassador, minister, jour- 
nalist, and author. One need not inscribe the 
dates and titles of his works here ; it is enough 
to mention his name. Suffice to recall that, as 
a conclusion to his labours, he wrote the " Me- 
moires d 'Outre-Tomb, ' ' which, like the simple, 
rough-hewn cross which crowns the summit of 
Grand Be, is a fitting monument to the genius 
of the man whose theories, it is to be feared, 
have now become somewhat out of date. 

Chateaubriand's verses on his native land 
give an ample proof of his love for her, and, 
moreover, so well express the regard which 
nearly every one has for the Emerald Coast, 
that it is certainly pardonable to quote them 
here : 


" Combien j'ai douce souvenance 
Du joli lieu de ma naissauce ! 
Ma soeur, qu'ils 6taient beaux, les jours 

De France ! 
O mon pays, sois mes amours, 

Toujours ' 

The Emerald Coast 283 

" Te souvient-il que notre mere, 
Au foyer de uotre chaumiere, 
Nous pressait sur son cceur joyeux, 

Ma chere, 
Et nous baisions ses blancs cheveux 

Tous deux ? 

" Ma so3ur, te souvient-il encore 
Du chateau que baignait la Dore ? 
Et de cette tant vieille tour 

Du Maure, 
Ou l'airain sonnait le retour 

Du jour ? 

" Te souvient-il du lac tranquille 
Qu'effleurait l'hirondelle agile, 
Du vent qui courbait le roseau 

Et du soleil couchant sur l'eau, 

Si beau? 

" Oh ! qui me rendra mon Helene, 
Et ma montagne et le grand chene ? 
Leur souvenir fait tous les jours 

Ma peine : 
Mon pays sera mes amours 

Toujours ! " 

St. Servan, like St. Malo, is steeped in an- 
tiquity; practically they form one town, al- 
though separated by the narrow strait which 
forms an entrance to the outer harbour of St. 
Malo. St. Servan registers over a hundred 
St. Malo craft engaged in fishing and in the 
coast trade. As the ancient Gallo-Roman town 

284 Rambles in Britta ny 

of Alethum, St. Servan, from very early times 
an archbishopric, was ravaged by barbarians 
and by floods and had a varied career, bnt at 
last the steady growth of the comparatively 
modern St. Servan made it a prosperous town 
of perhaps twelve thousand sonls. 

The chief of St. Servan 's architectural monu- 
ments is the great Tower of Solidor, built far 
out upon the rocks at the mouth of the Ranee. 
It was built in 1384 by Duke John IV., at the 
epoch when he was combating the pretensions 
of Josselin of Rohan, Bishop of St. Malo, for 
the sovereignty of the town. 

It is a great triangular hold with a cylindri- 
cal tower at each corner. Within is a stone 
staircase winding spirally upward and giving 
access to various vaulted chambers. It could 
oppose no great strength to modern artillery, 
and even in the olden time could not have been 
very secure, could the besiegers but get to the 
base of its walls. At the same time, from its 
isolated position, it served admirably as an out- 
post which at least offered a superior vantage 
against an attacking force, and it is unlikely 
that it could have been taken except by siege 
or by the fall of the supporting city at its back. 

The Chapel St. Peter of Aleth has built into 
its fabric some fragments of the ancient ninth 

Tower of So lido?', St. Servan 

The Emerald Coast 


and tenth century cathedral of the same 

There are many remains of the old city walls, 


Plans of the Tower of Solidor 

and St. Servan ranks with St. Malo as a vivid 
reminder of other days. 

There is one popular sight of Brittany near 
St. Malo, which cannot be ignored, — the rock- 

286 Rambles in Brittany 

carved tomb of St. Budoc. This holy man lived 
in the days when Celtic was a living tongue, 
and Irish, Scots, Welshmen, and Bretons, one 
and all, used the same speech. 

Many a year has passed, and St. Budoc has 
been all but forgotten. Besides his religious 
fervour, the memory of which exists but 
vaguely, there is left as a reminder of his ex- 
istence his tomb and a prophecy which has come 
down by word of mouth through the natives. 

To-day there is a modern hermit who lives 
near the tomb of the saint, and carves a sort of 
symbolical prophecy in stone for his own 
amusement and the marvel of tourists. 

It is rather a cheap sort of a shrine, and one 
that is wholly visionary so far as its real sig- 
nificance goes, but it is a very satisfying one 
to most who view it, like the ' ' Blarney Stone ' ' 
and St. Patrick's grave, which are frauds of the 
first water. 

One comes to Rotheneuf — a little Breton 
coast village — by road, tramway, or carriage 
from Parame, if he comes at all. Here just 
beyond the village itself the cliffs are curi- 
ously carved into all manner of human shapes, 
— the work of the aforesaid hermit, who, al- 
though he be not a young man, certainly is not 
so old as to have carved all the stones which 

The Emerald Coast 287 

here exist; at least they look much older, 
though the stress of weather may account for 

Evidently there is a devotion for St. Budoc, 
and belief in his prophecy of the downfall of 
France is one day or another to become true. 
The old monk or priest — for in reality this 
hermit of to-day is a churchman — is evidently 
the chief disciple of the cult, for he perpetuates 
his version of this long-lost legend in his mod- 
ern carvings. 

The text of this old prophecy was vague and 
visionary, but enough has come down to place 
definitely the fact that a Napoleon was to rise 
and fall in the beginning of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, and that the Church was to be parted 
from its children, — referring presumably to 
the Concordat of 1802. 

No version of the prophecy exists in Celtic 
literature, but the monk Olivarius published, 
in Luxembourg in 1544, a version which was 
supposed to have been handed down from the 
old Celtic monk himself. Since that time con- 
temporary literature has had various refer- 
ences thereto, the last apparently in 1904, when 
one appeared in Gaston Medy's " Echo of the 
Marvellous. ' ' 

This last version, or promulgation, of the 

288 Rambles in Brittany 

Celt's prophecy carries us even into the future, 
432 moons from the foundation of the present 
French republic, i. e. thirty-six years, which 
would be in 1906. " Woe to thee, great city," 
is a phrase which is supposed to refer to the 
fall of Paris; whether as Rome fell, from an 
excess of glory, or into the hands of the in- 
vader, is not stated. At any rate, the event is 
to come to pass in the year of our Lord 1906, 432 
moons from the beginning of the great Repub- 
lique Francaise. Let all who will be mindful. 

On the opposite bank of the Ranee from St. 
Malo is Dinard-St. Enogat, occupying a mag- 
nificent site known in part as the Bee de la 
Valle. The country-houses of Dinard are fa- 
mous, though they are built in that vague archi- 
tectural style accepted the world over as being 
something appropriate to a species of residence 
less sumptuous than a palace or a chateau. 

It is a pity that the word is not better under- 
stood by the people, and a pity, too, that most 
villas in France — and in England, for that 
matter — are abominable, queer chicken-coops, 
with names like Villa Napoli, Villa Saint Ger- 
main, Villa la Belle-Issue, Villa Belle-Rive, and 
Villa Bric-a-Brac. All these are found at 
Dinard, and more, and, as may be imagined, 
the summer life of this town of country-houses 

The Emerald Coast 289 

is in many respects as gay and bizarre as the 
architecture and names of the villas themselves. 

The aspect of the waterside of the charming 
little place — for Dinard is charming, in spite 
of it all — belies these strictures somewhat, 
with the warm glow of the sinking sun gilding 
the roof-tops, as the emerald waters of the 
great bay ebb and flow beneath their feet. 

Dinard has another and more interesting side 
in an admirable architectural monument, — the 
ruins of an ancient priory, founded in 1324 
by Olivier and Geoffroy de Montfort. The fine 
Gothic chapel is now ruined and moss-grown, 
but there are still to be seen the tombs of the 
Chevaliers de Montfort, who were mighty chief- 
tains in their day. Within the grounds also 
is a curious statue of the Virgin placed beneath 
the enormous fig-tree. 

The beach is of course the great attraction 
of the summer resident, when he is not drinking 
cool drinks at the casino or eating at the cafe 
restaurant on the terrace. 

St. Enogat, which is usually linked with the 
mention of Dinard by a hyphen, has much the 
same aspect as its partner, — villas, Swiss 
chalets, and cottages. St. E]nogat bears the 
name of one of the first bishops of Aleth, and 
its proximity to the great cliffs fringing the 

290 Rambles in Brittany 

coast, and the high rocks just offshore, make 
its location even more beautiful than that of 
Dinard itself. Westward of St. Enogat are St. 
Jacut, St. Cast, and Cap Frehel, and nearer St. 
Lunaire and St. Briac. 

All are very popular resorts during the sum- 
mer months, and are attractive spots — or 
would be but that accommodation in all is lim- 
ited, and what there is is sadly overcrowded 
for the three fine months of the year. 

St. Lunaire has an ancient eleventh-century 
church, placing it somewhat on the plane of 
an artistic shrine. Practically, the edifice is 
abandoned to-day, but it contains the tomb of 
St. Lunaire, a work of the thirteenth or four- 
teenth century, made up of some fragmentary 
sculptures thought to have come from the prim- 
itive church. 

St. Briac has much the same characteristics, 
though of itself it counts an all-the-year-round 
population of two thousand or more souls. 

It owes its name to a Celtic hermit-saint, who 
came from Ireland in the early days of the 
evangelizing missions of the Irish monks, and 
has the ruined Chateau of Pontbriant for an 
attraction. It has not the misfortune to have 
become as fashionable as Dinard-St. Enogat, 
and is therefore the more enjoyable. Truly 

The Emerald Coast 291 

is it a delightful little corner of the world, 
where those who are town-weary may take their 
ease and ruminate on the futility of attempting 
to put order into the universe. 

This whole region is a wonderful galaxy of 
natural beauties, to be discovered and appre- 
ciated only by oneself. They shall be nameless 
here that that pleasure may not be curtailed. 

The route to Dinan from St. Malo by the 
tidal river Eance is one of those enjoyable 
journeys which impress the mind in an indeli- 
ble fashion. It is a matter of twenty-four kilo- 
metres as the crow flies, and about the same 
by the water route of the fishes. 

Dinan is a real mediaeval town, with a wall 
or rampart something over a mile in length. It 
is a most interesting centre for the charming 
country round about, and is in itself a typical 
feudal relic of the days when cities were en- 
closed by walls and only entered through for- 
tified gates. 

Originally the thirteenth-century ramparts 
were defended by twenty-four towers, of which 
a dozen, perhaps, still remain. Three great 
gateways, the gates of Jerzual, of St. Malo, 
and St. Louis, still remain in all their fortified 
splendour; the fourth, the Porte de Brest, has 
been demolished. 


Rambles in Brittany 

The Valley of the Ranee 

The Emerald Coast 


The old streets of the mediaeval city still ex- 
ist, too, much in the same state as they were 
in mediaeval times. 

The porches or covered passages are a fea- 
ture of many of the old-time houses, and are 
most quaint and artistic. 

The church of St. Malo 
dates from 1490, and that 
of St. Sauveur from the 
twelfth to the fifteenth 
century. The chief his- 
torical figure of Dinan's 
past was Bertrand Du- 
guesclin, the young 
Breton noble who so dis- 
tinguished himself in the 
fourteenth century on the 
side of France against the 

He was born at Motte- Duguesclin, from his statue 

■u^^^^r, ^ t\ • * n ^ ie Abbey of St. Denis. 

Broons, near D 1 n a n, 

toward 1320. " He had a sunburned face, with 

a snub nose, and green eyes, an awkward gait, 

and a rough and untractable nature," one reads 

in the words of Simeon Luce; and from the 

existing portraits of him, all this is true. 

He was a warrior, from his earliest days, of 

the most thoroughgoing type. He was the sort 

294 Rambles in Brittany 

of small boy whom mothers find looking for 
trouble. He would lead on the village lads to 
fight, and, when victory had all but appeared, 
on one side or the other, he would throw him- 
self into the breach to start the fight again, just 
like a wolf, after which he would lead both sides 
to a tavern to drink, and heal old sores. 

On the ninth of July, 1812, the heart of the 
redoubtable Duguesclin was brought to Dinan 
and placed in the north transept of the Church 
of St. Sauveur amid an imposing assemblage. 

The sarcophagus bears the following inscrip- 
tion, which shows that the warrior who really 
was responsible for the banishment of the Eng- 
lish from France " ranked in company with 
kings, " as his French admirers put it. 






nil » : dont : son : corps : repos 


The great clock-tower, a fine fifteenth-century 
building with a massive spire, is found in the 
Rue de 1 'Horloge. It was given to the town by 
Anne of Brittany in 1507. 

The Emerald Coast 


The Chateau of Dinan was built by the Bre- 
ton dukes (1382-87). Its history was varied 
and vivid, as one reads in the pages of M. Gaul- 
tier de Mottay. 

T^eyde. Chcuts e e of JJo njon -JJ/NA hi 

Oliver Clisson, Gilles of Brittany, Viscount 
Rohan, Duchess Anne, Laurent Hamon, and 
many others whose names are famous in the 
history of Brittany have walked through these 
halls, of which only the hold to-day remains 
as a tourist " sight.' ' 

296 Rambles in Brittany 

The Tower of Coetquen, one of the ancient 
towers of the city wall, forms practically a part 
of the old castle, but the keep, or the Queen 
Anne's Tower, a hundred or more feet in height 
and of four stories, — the topmost reached by 
a spiral stairway of 148 steps, — is the most 
distinct feature still standing. 

In the interior are a number of obscure cells 
which were, and indeed are still, terrible dun- 
geons. The guard-room is on the second floor, 
with also a little room, which served as an ora- 
tory for the Duchess Anne. The third floor is 
occupied by the Constable's Hall, and the 
fourth by a Hall of Arms, a fine vaulted apart- 

To-day the castle is a prison, and the rank 
and file of visitors may not enter this fine medi- 
aeval monument, but, if one have a proper ap- 
preciation of the architectural delights of a 
mediaeval fortress, and be diplomatic in his 
request, very likely his wish to enter will be 

One of the principal industries of Dinan is 
the fabrication of sail-cloth. It is an admirably 
placed industry, with its market close at hand, 
and most of the Breton and Norman fishing- 
boats of these parts sport a full suit of Dinan 

The Emerald Coast 297 

In the environs of Dinan are innumerable 
charming excursions mostly neglected. One 
such must surely be included in one's itinerary, 
— a visit to the old Priory of Lehon, a depend- 
ency of the Abbey of Marmoutier. 

It was founded in 850 by Nominoe, in hon- 
our of St. Magloire, whose relics were brought 
from the Isle of Jersey to Dinan. The ruins, 
as seen to-day, are most ample and beautiful, 
showing the best of thirteenth-century Gothic. 

Besides this, Lehon has the picturesque ruins 
of a twelfth and thirteenth century castle 
perched high upon the summit of an eminence 
overlooking the headwaters of the Ranee. The 
castle came to the hands of the Dukes of Brit- 
tany; Charles of Blois stayed there in 1356 
after his return from England, and Raoul Coet- 
quen was made captain in 1402, since which 
time its history has been lost or hidden in the 
pages of the untranslated chroniclers. 

In 1624 the priory monks robbed the castle 
for material with which to construct their beau- 
tiful cloister, but enough remains to-day, hid- 
den away among a mass of ivy and lichen- 
grown ruins, to indicate its former prominence. 

Altogether Lehon and its two romantic mem- 
ories of other days is a u sight " not to be 

298 Rambles in Brittany 

An old custom formerly prevailed here at 
Pentecost, when the newly married were sup- 
posed to present themselves before the prior 
of the monastery for a sort of last blessing, 
as it would seem. 

They sang the following refrain, and went 
back to their home, or to the festival in the 
neighbouring village, with never a care beyond 
to-day : 

" Si je suis marine vous le savez bien ; 
Si je suis mal a l'aise vous n'en savez rien. 
Ma chanson est dite, je ne vous dois plus rien." 

This seems a philosophical way of looking 
at things, and shows an easy conscience and 
open mind on the part of all concerned. 

Seated upon the western shore of the great 
Bay of Mont St. Michel is Cancale, whence 
come the oysters. The six thousand inhabitants 
of this quaintly rock-environed place have a 
physiognomy so distinctly their own as to mark 
them for a type. Feyen-Perrin and his brother 
have painted the Cancale people in a manner 
never to be forgotten by those who are familiar 
with their work. 

Anciently Cancale was known as Cancaven, 
and is a survival among neighbouring settle- 
ments which have succumbed to the encroach- 
ments of the ocean. 

The Emerald Coast 299 

In 1032, it became a dependency of the Abbey 
of Mont St. Michel. In 1758, it was pillaged 
by the English under the Duke of Marlborough, 
and the English fleet again bombarded it in 

La Houle is the real port of Cancale, and 
the centre for the oyster industry. At low tide 
the boats of the fishers are drawn up on the 
yellow sands, there to remain until the return 
of the tide. At low tide all the village comes 
from the town above and repairs to the oyster- 
beds. The general outgoing, which seems to 
the stranger the emigration of the whole popu- 
lation, has been described by a Frenchman as: 
" Un defile, interminable, bruyant, cadence, le 
bruit des pas coupe de paroles et de vires." 

This great outpouring continues until quite 
all the available help of the female persuasion 
has departed, leaving practically only the old 
and infirm to guard the houses and shops until 
the return of the tide. 

Cancale is one of the most celebrated oyster- 
rearing districts of the world, but, if the tour- 
ist arrive there during the summer months 
which lack the " B," he will eat not of them; 
the natives look upon it as downright crime 
even to think of serving them to you; the mus- 
sel will have to be your substitute. It is always 

300 Rambles in Brittany 

in season, though it looks about as perishable 
in hot weather as the oyster, and probably is 
so. Tradition and superstition account for the 
upholding of many institutions in this world, 
and the oyster season appears to be one of 

The celebrated Rocks of Cancale lie just be- 
low the town, — a black mass of rocks, about 
which the waves of the ocean fawn and growl 
like a parcel of wolves. 

The Point of Grouin is simply an exaggera- 
tion of the same rocky formation as that of 
Cancale, and the same which unrolls itself all 
around the coast up to Cape Frehel. To the 
west is the Bay of St. Malo, and to the east 
the Bay of Mont St. Michel. 

Michelet wrote of this famous mount off the 
Breton coast as follows : 

" The gigantic rock is an abbey, a cloister, 
a fortress, and a prison, with exquisite sub- 
limity and true dignity. It rises like a titanic 
tower, rock upon rock, keep upon keep, and 
century upon century. Below the monks ; higher 
the iron cage of Louis XI. (who, it seems, left 
these details rather numerously about his do- 
main) ; higher yet the cell of Louis XIV; 
higher yet the prison of to-day. All is in a 

The Emerald Coast 301 

whirlwind ; Mont St. Michel is a very sepulchre 
of peace. ' ' 

Michelet's was not wholly 'a cheerful view. 
He was rather a gloomy man, it would seem, 
but it is perhaps proper enough to record his 
views here, as most of us will praise this won- 
derful work to the limit of our imagination. 

Eeally Mont St. Michel is not of Brittany. 
To-day the changing of the boundary westward 
to the little river Couesnon brings it just over 
the line into Normandy, though both ramblers 
in Normandy and ramblers in Brittany may 
properly enough include it in their itineraries, 
and should do so. 

To such spirits as like that sort of thing, 
there is a way open to the landing, high up in 
the tower of the abbey, whence there is a won- 
derful view. Michel et wrote of it, on the oc- 
casion of a visit, that it was a place for fools; 
that he knew no spot more suitable to bring on 
an attack of vertigo. 

Michelet's description of the quicksands 
which surround the mount is distinctly good. 
The native will tell you that you must not ven- 
ture upon them, but he himself does so, and 
nothing happens. In spite of this, let the vis- 
itor so much as leave the causeway a dozen 
yards — to focus his camera — and a half- 

302 Rambles in Brittany ^^ 

dozen burly fellows will hurl themselves upon 
him and drag him back, declaring they have 
saved his life, which means that one ultimately 
pays them something; a franc each is about 
the price that they apparently consider a life 
worth. Sometimes some poor soul is engulfed, 
but it is a first-class scare in most instances. 
Michelet says of these quicksands (" cendre 
blanche "), " It is not land; it is not sea; 
I myself only just escaped being engulf ed." 

As a sort of side-show to the wonderful 
Abbey of Mont St. Michel is the stern and bar- 
ren Isle of Tombelaine. 

It lies, also amid its own desert of sand or 
water, according to the state of the tide, about 
a mile, or perhaps a little more, to the north- 
east of the mount. 

It is a simple islet of granite, uncultivated, 
and as wild as it always has been. It rises 
perhaps 125 feet above the sea-level, like a 
giant stepping-stone, between the mount and 
the neighbouring coast before Avranches in 

Its history is intimately bound with that of 
the mount itself, but to-day it has few, if any, 
visitors. It played a certain minor part in the 
war of the Hundred Years, when it served as 
a sturdv buttress for the English fleet. 

The Emerald Coast 303 

From the tenth to the seventeenth century 
it was occupied by a religious colony from 
the abbey of the mount, and held a diminutive 
priory bearing the vocable of Our Lady la 
Gisant; " a gentle Madonna," says an im- 
aginative Frenchman, " standing beside the 
archangel with the sword." 

In the midst of the Marsh of Dol — the great 
Bay of Mont St. Michel — is a granite emi- 
nence some two hundred feet above the sur- 
rounding plain, at the summit of which is 
built the little village of Mont Dol. It is sup- 
posed to be the site of an ancient shrine con- 
secrated to the druids. 

Two kilometres from Mont Dol is the great 
menhir of Champ Dolent, a relic of the stone 
age which was pagan, but is to-day surmounted 
by a Christian cross, which seems paradoxical. 
It has no pretence to beauty or architectural 
grandeur, and is to be regarded only as a 
mysterious curiosity. 

When one first comes to Dol in Brittany he 
is in a quandary. Which is it, city or village? 
The writer does not know even yet. It has 
all the quaintness and rustic picturesqueness 
of a mere hamlet, and again, in its station, its 
hotels, and its tree-lined boulevard, it takes 
on the aspect of a city. At any rate, if it be- 

304 Rambles in Brittany 

longs to the latter classification, it is somnolent, 
and accordingly delightful. 

" Here, my good fellow, can you direct me 
to the Hotel de la Poste," one says to the first 
native he meets after leaving the station. 
" Certainly, my good man," he replies in an 
equally patronizing tone, " I will take you 
there." He declines all remuneration, of 
course, and will not be patronized in any way. 
Decidedly he is a most independent individual, 
but polite withal. 

Stendhal, in his " Traveller's Memories," 
said of the great frowning cathedral of the 
episcopal city of Dol : " It is the most beau- 
tiful example of a Gothic edifice which I have 
seen." It is not difficult to follow his reason- 
ing, for the grim walls of its facade, in the 
simplest and severest style, are indeed mag- 
nificent examples of the undecorated Gothic 
of a very early period. Most folk, however, 
will not call it beautiful when Chartres, 
Eheims, Beauvais, or even Sees are in mind. 

Dol, at any rate, forming the gateway to 
Brittany, from Normandy through the Coten- 
tin, was a most important centre of Christian- 
ity in the sixth entury. 

The foundation of Dol dates from 548, when 
a colony of Britons coming from Ireland set- 

The Emerald Coast 305 

tied here under the leadership of St. Samson, 
from whom the present cathedral is named. 
This is but another of those links which bind 
the history of Brittany with that of the Celts 
from overseas. Legend continues the story 
thus: " Thou goest by the sea " (St. Samson 
was told), " and where thou wilt disembark, 
thou shalt find a well. Over this thou wilt build 
a church, and around it will group the houses 
forming the city, of which thou wilt be bishop." 

All this came to pass, and for long ages the 
town has been known as the episcopal city of 
Dol. William the Conqueror besieged Dol in 
1075, but retired after forty days, having failed 
to sustain his attack. Henry II. of England 
invaded the city, and Jean Lackland fortified 
himself here in 1203, but it was retaken by 
Guy de Thouars in the year following. 

T T p to Revolutionary times the career of Dol 
was unceasingly riotous and bloody, but little 
evidences of a part so played remain visible 
to-day. All that reminds one of its antiquity 
is the charmingly severe and simply outlined 
Cathedral of St. Samson, and the numerous 
timbered houses with their street-front galleries, 
always a most interesting feature of a medi- 
aeval town. 

Sixteen kilometres south of Dol is Combourg, 

306 Rambles in Brittany 

not an important town in many ways, and yet 
very important, if one demands a sixteenth- 
century or earlier label on all he admires. 

As a French visitor to Combonrg has said, 
" La gare de Combourg is not Combourg; you 
have yet fifteen hundred metres to go." This 
is not a great distance, but, as the town is so 
completely hidden from the railway, the sen- 
sation is that of alighting far from a centre of 

The Chateau of Combourg is one of those 
indescribable picturesque fourteenth and fif- 
teenth century structures which owe much to 
situation and environment. It has a pictur- 
esquely disposed market clustered about it, so 
that the cries of porkers and their venders 
mingle with the stately pealing of the bell of 
the great clock, which rings out not only the 
hour, but the " quarters " in a most sonorous 

The costumes of both the men and women of 
the region around Combourg are exceedingly 
picturesque and novel; the men with blouse 
and jacket, and the women in black and the 
coifs of Becherel, Hede, Tenteniac, and Miniac; 
all somewhat resembling one another, and that 
of Miniac looking more like a great white- 
winged bishop's mitre than anything else. 

The Emerald Coast 


More anciently Combourg Chateau was a feu- 
dal fortress, in an old building of which, now 
swallowed up in the surrounding structures, 


Coif of Miniac 

the infancy of Rene Chateaubriand was spent. 
There is also an old tower dating from 1016, 
built by Gingoneus, a bishop of Dol. The 
present chateau belongs to the Countess of Cha- 

308 Rambles in Brittany 

teaubriand, and is visible to the curious public 
on Wednesday afteruoous. 

The hall, the library, which coutaius the 
writing-table of the author of the " Genius of 
Christianity," and his bedroom, where is the 
little iron bed on which he died in Paris, — all 
go to make of this a literary shrine of prime 

The Chateau of Combourg has a legend, too, 
but since it concerns only the skeleton of a cat, 
which in life was supposed to be the reincar- 
nation of a former Count of Combourg, it 
seems unworthy of repetition here. 




In general aspect a Breton country-side dif- 
fers widely from those of Normandy. Here 
one comes upon hedgerows and an occasional 
bit of stone wall, quite as one sees them in 

The towns and communities of Brittany are 
less numerous and less populous, too, than 
those of Normandy, and paving is uncommon 
in the towns, and were it not for the steep 
ascents and descents, by which one leaves such 
places as Mayenne, Fougeres, Josselin, Auray, 
or Quimperle, this would prove quite a bless- 
ing to the automobilist. As it is, while they 
give variety to one's journey by road, they 
do not by any means permit of ' ' plain sailing ' ' 
at all times. 

The great national road from Paris to Brest 
crosses mid-Brittany, after leaving Normandy, 
at Pre-en-Pail just beyond Alengon. It passes 


310 Rambles in Brittany 

through the great towns of Mayenne, Fougeres, 
and Rennes, where it joins the highway from 
Paris by way of Chartres, Le Mans, Laval, and 

From Rennes this road, No. 24, runs straight, 
almost as the crow flies, to the tip of Finis tere, 
by Montfort-sur-Meu, Loudeac, Carhaix, Huel- 
goat, and Landerneau to Brest. 

This takes one through the very heart of 
Brittany, though by no means is it the most 
interesting or the most prosperous. Mayenne, 
Fougeres, Vitre, and Laval form a quartette 
of Breton towns which, taken as a whole, have 
characteristics quite similar, and yet different 
from those in other parts. Virtually, they are 
all hill-towns, and therein lies their resem- 
blance, though their careers have been varied 

The run down into the valley of the river 
Mayenne, as one comes into the town of the 
same name, is a wonderfully delightful and 
gentle descent of perhaps a dozen kilometres. 
There is nothing very terrific about it, nor is 
it of the frankly mountainous order, still the 
eminence to the eastward is sufficiently elevated 
to give a singularly spacious appearance to the 
landscape above the river valley itself ; indeed, 
next to that magnificent run down into Rouen 


On the Road in Brittany 311 

— from the height of Bon Secours — it is one 
of the most splendidly scenic roads in all North 

At the bottom flows the Mayenne, joining the 
Loire at Angers, and on its banks is nestled 
snugly the town of Mayenne itself, with a truly 
delightful riverside hotel and church. 

Just below it is the ancient castle built on 
a rocky escarpment overhanging the river. 
There are five great towers on the riverside, 
and three others on the north, of which one 
alone has preserved its conical roof. To-day 
it serves as a prison, but there are yet to be 
seen in its interior some fragments of the orna- 
mentation of the thirteenth century. The ter- 
race of the chateau forms a delightful prome- 
nade overlooking the river. 

William the Conqueror besieged Geoffrey 
III. here in 1064, but the most celebrated siege 
which the chateau underwent was that by the 
Count of Salisbury in 1424. 

The Hotel de Ville is an admirable relic of 
other days, though by no means pretentious. 
It is a small, rectangular structure, its front 
ornamented with two enormous solar devices, 
and the whole surmounted by a graceful bell- 
tower. Behind the Hotel de Ville stands a 
bronze statue of Cardinal Cheverus, first Bishop 

312 Rambles in Brittany 

of Boston. The Church of Notre Dame is 
really a grand structure, with its fine showing 
of splayed buttresses. Its foundation dates 
from 1110, and it admirably exhibits the best 
traditions of its time. 

Five kilometres away are the remains of the 
old Cistercian Abbey of Fontaine - Daniel, 
founded in 1204 by Juhel III. There are some 
remarkable fragments of its old foundation 
still remaining, but a large part of the present 
edifice is of the seventeenth century. From 
Mayenne to Fougeres, still on the highroad to 
the west, one passes Ernee, whose name is not 
known to many travellers and which is not 
marked on every map, though it is a bustling 
town of five thousand inhabitants. 

The origin of this place is due to the founda- 
tion of a chateau — on the site of the present 
quaint church — by the Lords of Mayenne, who 
were, in the sixteenth century, of the house of 

Henri of Lorraine was killed by a musket- 
shot at the siege of Montaubon, and was 
brought here to die in 1654. 

Some years later the Seigneury of Mayenne 
and Ernee passed to the hands of Cardinal 
Mazarin, who transmitted it to his niece, and 

On the Road in Brittany 313 

gave the old chateau for transformation into 
the present church. 

Javron, also on the way to Fougeres, is a 
small town of two thousand inhabitants, and 
the former site of a monastery, founded by 
Clotaire for an anchorite named Constantin. 
The present church is built over the tomb of 
this saint. 

The situation of Fougeres is truly remark- 
able. It is, moreover, a remarkable place in 
itself, and is to be reckoned as one of these 
delightful spots to visit, which, if not exactly 
popular tourist resorts, are at least as satis- 
fying to the curiously inclined. 

Fougeres in all ways is this, and more. It 
is almost the best example of a walled and 
fortified town of the middle ages existing in all 
North France. Its situation, on a great hill, 
with its tower-flanked walls and gates, is one 
of surpassing impressiveness, although to-day 
the general aspect of the little city of twenty 
thousand inhabitants is modern enough. 

Fougeres was one of the original nine baro- 
nies of Brittany, and owes its origin to a cha- 
teau which Meen, the son of Juhel Beranger, 
Count of Rennes, constructed at the beginning 
of the ninth century. 

To-day the city walls, the remains of the cha- 


Rambles in Brittany 

teau, and the gates and watch-towers are ad- 
mirably preserved. The castle itself is nothing 
more than a vast ruin, whose entrance, formed 



ur deCjobDn 


Plan of the Ancient Walls and Towers of Fougeres 

by three towers, plainly shows it to date from 
the twelfth century. 

There is a great tower yet remaining — one 
of a twin pair — known as the Tower of 
Coigny, from a former governor, and within 
this tower is an ancient chapel. 

On the Road in Brittany 315 

There are three other celebrated towers, 
well-nigh as perfect as they were in the middle 
ages as far as their general outlines are con- 
cerned. The keep was razed in 1630, but the 
inner wall which surrounded it, with its three 
angular towers, is still to be seen. The Tower 
of Melusine encloses a museum in which are 
many relics and curiosities of a period con- 
temporary with the castle itself. The ramparts 
of the town are more or less ruinous, but are 
still to be seen throughout its whole circum- 
ference. No part of this feature, however, 
dates from before the fifteenth century. 

There are two admirable churches, — relics 
of the middle ages, — St. Sulpice and St. Leon- 
ard, also the ancient convent of the Urbanists, 
dating from 1689, now barracks. 

There are many fine old houses in wood and 
stone scattered about the city, and an octagonal 
tower, in which is a great clock whose bell was 
cast in 1304 by Rolland Chaussiere. 

North of the town is the Forest of Fougeres, 
composed principally of great beeches. Within 
the forest are the ruins of an ancient convent 
of the Franciscans, and near the little hamlet 
of Landeau are the famous " Caverns of Lan- 
deau," constructed, it is said, in 1173 by 
Raoul II. of Fougeres, to hide his riches and 

316 Rambles in Brittany 

those of his vassals from the rapacity of the 
troops of Henry II. of England. 

Dropping down again to the main route from 
Paris, which joins with that by the way of 
Mayenne and Fougeres at Rennes, one enters 
Laval, the first Breton town of any magnitude 
on this route, as one comes westward. 

It is a veritable local metropolis, and, like 
Mayenne, farther up the river, it spreads itself 
amply on both sides of the stream which flows 
southward to join the Loire at Angers, just 
below the country. 

The first Chateau of Laval was built by the 
Count Guidon or Guy to protect the Bretons 
from the invasion of Charlemagne or his suc- 
cessors. The second Guy received a charter 
from the Bishop of Mans, dated in the fifth 
year of the reign of King Robert (1002), and 
this designates him as the real founder of the 
Chateau of Laval. The town became the seat 
of a barony, afterward a county, of which the 
possessors were ever famous for their personal 
valour and their high lineage. Among them 
were the Montmorencys, the Montforts, and the 

When, in the fifteenth century, the English 
had become virtual masters of Maine, Laval 

On the Road in Brittany 317 

alone resisted their efforts, thanks to the en- 
ergy of a certain Anne of Laval. 

The historical records of the town and the 
chateau are ample and eventful, even down to 
as late a day as 1871, when, after the battle of 
Mans, General Chanzy retreated upon Laval. 

It was in the environs of Laval that the four 
ancient smugglers, the brothers Jean, Frangois, 
Pierre, and Rene Cottereau, known as the Chou- 
ans (because of their owl signal, as the French 
give it), first rallied and organized the bands 
of partisans which gradually adopted the name. 

The keep of the chateau is a great cylindri- 
cal tower of the twelfth century, remarkable 
for its height, its size, and the wonderful car- 
pentry of its roof. The great interior court is 
bordered on two sides with a magnificent Re- 
naissance structure attributed to Guy XVI., 
Count of Laval and Governor of Brittany in 
1525. The chapel has now been given up to 
the prisoners sheltered within the castle. It is 
the masterpiece of the whole work, and dates 
from the eleventh century. 

The Church of the Trinity, made a cathedral 
in 1855, was in 1790 the seat of the Assemblee, 
but in its most ancient parts dates from the 
episcopate of Hildebert of Lavardin (1110). 

There are some remains of the town's an- 

318 Rambles in Brittany 

cient fortifications yet to be seen, such as the 
Eenaise Tower and the Spur Tower, which are 
in every way as suggestive of former impor- 
tance as the remains of the castle itself. The 
Beucheresse Gate is another fragment of these 
same fortifications. 

In Laval are ten thousand workmen engaged 
in the production of tent and awning cloth. 
Laval is a great wheat market for the prolific 
wheat-growing region round about, so its com- 
mercial importance of to-day is quite as firmly 
established as is its historic past. 

Laval was the birthplace of Ambroise Pare, 
the founder of French surgery. It was he who 
drew the spear-head from the cheek of Balafre, 
and he who declared the malady of Francis I. 
to be incurable. 

His statue bears the following inscription, 
" I dressed the wound, and God healed it." 

One cannot say too much in praise of Vitre, 
though it does smack of the popular tourist 
resort, with hotels whose runners tout for 
your patronage, and picture post-card sellers, 
who seem to think that you prefer their wares 
to viewing the sights themselves ; but the hotels 
are amply endowed with those creature com- 
forts that most of us value highly, and, if you 
wish, you will be put to sleep in a hygienic bed- 

On the Road in Brittany 


Beucheresse Gate, Laval 

320 Rambles in Brittany 

room, which is something like a prison-cell, but 
which must truly be hygienic, judging from its 

These rooms, installed by the ' ' Touring Club 
of France, ' ' are now to be found sprinkled here 
and there throughout the land, and, if white 
lacquered walls and ceilings and iron beds, and 
simple draperies and no carpets, — but highly 
waxed floors instead, — can ensure a superla- 
tive cleanliness and airiness, why, so much the 
more welcome they are; and surely the weary 
tourist ought not to mind whether he sleeps 
in a cubicle or not. Again, the fare of this 
particular hotel (the Travellers') is so excellent 
that he ought to be willing to sleep on the pro- 
verbial plank. 

Vitre, in spite of all novelty, is a true city 
of the past, and one literally walks the by-paths 
of history when he traverses its streets. All at 
once one comes to the ancient and theatrical- 
looking Chateau of the Tremoilles, Vitre's most 
noble family of other days. 

The town has undergone many sieges. 
Charles VIII. captured it, and in 1488 so- 
journed in it for some days. During the wars 
of the League, the Rieux and the Colignys led 
the revolt, and it served for some years as a 
strong place of resort for the Huguenots. 

On the Road in Brittany 321 

Within the two hundred years following, the 
Breton Parliament, alternately presided over 
by the Dukes of Vitre and of Rohan, met here 

Plan of Vitre in 1811 Showing City Walls 

A — Chateau 

B — Place du Chateau 

C — Fosses 

D — Dependencies of Chateau (non-existent to-day) 

F — Porte d'Enhayt 

G — Porte de Gastesel 

H — Eglise Notre Dame 

many times, always amid a great and joyous 
festival given by the town. 

All the activity in the past has worked for 
the preservation of many ancient memorials. 

The aspect of the town is not so ruinously 
picturesque as Fougeres, nor again so trim and 

322 Rambles in Brittany 

neat as Mayenne or Laval, but more than either 
of these it preserves to-day its ancient outlook 
at every turn. 

" II n'est plus que Vitre en Bretagne, Avi- 
gnon dans le Midi, qui conservent au milieu de 
notre epoque leur intacte configuration du 
moy en-age " (Victor Hugo). 

The chateau itself has been recently restored, 
and ranks as one of the most perfectly pre- 
served specimens of military architecture in all 
Brittany. One may visit the interior of this 
old fortress-chateau in the care of a painstak- 
ing porter. 

The principal mass, known as the chatelet, 
is the best preserved, and, flanking it on both 
sides, are series of crenelated towers and 
machicolated walls. In the courtyard is the 
eleventh-century chateau, now incorporated in 
the later work. 

On the same side is a charming Eenaissance 
tower, built by Guy XVI., and known as the 
" Tribune of Tremoille." The five sides of 
this admirable architectural detail are charm- 
ingly decorated in sculptured stone, and on one 
is the inscription taken from the Book of Job : 
" Post Tenebras Spero Lucem," the Tremoille 

Within is a museum with divers collections 


Chateau de Vitr'e 

On the Road in Brittany 



vitr-e! — . 

TWer 0/ Sf. Martin, Vitre 

324 Rambles in Brittany 

of many things of an era contemporary with 
the structure itself. 

Opposite the great entrance gateway to the 
castle is a modest little house, once the resi- 
dence (or temporary abode) of Madame de 
Sevigne, and now occupied by the " Cercle 

In the environs — five kilometres to the south 
— is the Chateau of Eochers, better known as 
the domicile of Madame de Sevigne, and one of 
the stock " sights.' ' It was from the Chateau 
of Eochers that she dated so large a number of 
her letters in 1670 - 71. 

In a letter bearing date of the twenty-second 
of July, 1671, she writes thus to Madame de 
Grignan : 

" Madame de Chaulnes arrived on Sunday, 
but in what manner think you ! On her beauti- 
ful feet, between eleven and twelve at night. 
One might think that Vitre was in Bohemia. 

1 l She made no ceremony of her coming. . . . 
She had come from Nantes by La Guerche, and 
her carriage stuck fast between two rocks half 
a league from Vitrei' 

It was from the Chateau of Eochers that 
Madame de Sevigne wrote to her daughter: 
" On Sunday last, just as I had sealed my 
former letter, I saw enter our courtyard four 

On the Road in Brittany 


326 Rambles in Brittany 

chariots with six horses, with fifty mounted 
guards, many led horses, and many mounted 
pages.' ' 

These were gallant days at Madame de 
Sevigne's Breton home, and to read all of her 
letters from Eochers — mainly to her daugh- 
ter — is to get a wonderful epitome of the 
seventeenth-century social life in this part of 

On the above occasion the company included 
M. de Chaulnes, M. de Eohan, M. de Lavardin, 
M. de Coetlegon, and M. de Locmaria, the Baron 
de Guais, the Bishops of Rennes and St. Malo, 
" and eight or ten I knew not," she continued. 

Throughout the chateau and its dependencies, 
the illusion of Madame de Sevigne's time has 
been well kept up unto to-day. One learns that 
the chateau became the property of the Sevignes 
upon the marriage of Anne of Mathefelon, 
" Lady of Rochers," with William of Sevigne, 
chamberlain to the Duke of Brittany. 

The kindly and well-meaning concierge, or 
cicerone, or whatever one chooses to call him or 
her who conducts him over the chateau and its 
grounds, is somewhat of a bore, though one 
has not the courage to cut off the prattle for 
fear he may lose something which may not have 
been offered to others. 

On the Road in Brittany 327 

It is somewhat disconcerting and even annoy- 
ing to be told, however, — when about to stroll 
down a tree-alleyed path, — that "the mar- 

Arms of Madame de Se eigne 

chioness never went there. ' ' Of course it 's pure 
conjecture on the part of this twentieth-century 
guide, since the noble marchioness has been 
dead some two hundred years or more, but, as 
aforesaid, the interruption fascinates one with 
its coolness. 

328 Rambles in Brittany 

At the right of the chateau are the gardens 
traced by the famous Lenotre. In the " Let- 
ters " one reads frequent references to these 
great gardens with their vast and ancient for- 
ests of tall timber. 



Rennes was once a great provincial capital, 
as great politically, perhaps, as Rouen, but it 
has not a tithe of the fascination or wealth of 
attraction of the Norman metropolis, and never 
had. Its Cathedral of St. Pierre is a cold, un- 
feeling thing, and its eighteenth-century town 
hall, its great military barracks, and its palace 
of a university are in no way great or lovable 
architectural monuments. As an offset against 
the mediocrity, is the somewhat bare exterior 
of the court-house, built in 1618 for the Breton 
Parliament, and furnished now, as then, in most 
luxurious fashion. 

The Salle des Pas-Perdus is a vast apart- 
ment, most delightfully planned and decorated, 
and of the Grand Parliamentary Chamber the 
same may be said. Above the floor of this 
chamber are still to be seen the tribunes where 
the dames of other days, of the days of Madame 
de Sevigne, assisted at the sessions. 


330 Rambles in Brittany 

The town hall contains a library of eighty 
thousand volumes, of which one hundred or 
more are first editions, and six hundred manu- 

The museums of the university palace are 
exceedingly rich in treasure, and are in every 
way worthy of a great provincial capital. 

For the rest, Rennes is a most ordinary, un- 
interesting town, though it does possess two 
mediaeval monuments of remark: the Porte 
Mordelaise, a historic souvenir of the military 
architecture of the middle ages, and Church 
of Our Lady, the ancient chapel and cloister of 
an eleventh-century monastery founded by the 
Bishop St. Melaine. 

There are many fine old Eenaissance houses 
scattered here and there about the town, but the 
general aspect is modern, and mediocre at that. 
Rennes would have been called by century-ago 
travellers " a well-built town," and such it 
certainly is, as becomes the ancient capital of 
the duchy of Brittany. 

In later days it is mostly known to the gen- 
eral reader as the scene of the famous Dreyfus 
trial, and its only liveliness comes from the 
officers of the tenth army corps, who, of a sum- 
mer's night, frequent the coffee-rooms opposite 
the court-house or the theatre, or promenade 

Rennes and Beyond 


332 Rambles in Brittany 

in the Thabor and the flower-garden, the old 
gardens of the Benedictine convent. 

Just previous to the Revolution, there were 
stirring times in Rennes, when a marshal of 
France commanded the troops camped within 
the city. The discontent of the people had 
arisen from two distinct causes, the price of 
bread and the abolition of its ancient parlia- 
ment. The former seems a good enough ex- 
cuse, but the latter is inexplicable, except, per- 
haps, as the snuffing out of an ancient source 
of local pride. It was to Rennes that Pere 
Caussin, the father confessor of Louis XIII., 
was sent by Richelieu, when he proved himself 
incapable of becoming the tool of the cardinal. 
The prison of state at Rennes was a terrible 
place in those days, but the true churchman 
preferred it to exile as a missionary in the 

All this and much more of political history 
made Rennes a famous centre in times past, 
but to-day it is so much like a bad imitation 
of Paris, that in desperation the stranger 
within the gates finally takes his departure for 
more idyllic parts, with the vow that never 
again will he seek to learn of present-day Brit- 
tany from the cafes and boulevards of Rennes. 
One other comment may be made on the un- 

Rennes and Beyond 333 

loveliness of Kennes as a place of temporary 
sojourn; and that is on its cab-drivers. The 
driver of a fiacre in the average Breton large 
town is like his fellows of Paris. He drives 
with a loose rein, and rushes helter-skelter 
down narrow streets with never a care for 
other traffic, or for foot-passengers, save a 
shouted, " He, la-bas! " which is so sudden and 
unforeseen that it is quite useless as a warn- 
ing. There have been those who have said that 
the hoot of an automobile's horn would drive 
even the " sense of traffic " — a new sense re- 
cently discovered by the Parisian medical 
journals — from out of the brain of even the 
most careful of persons! This is as naught 
compared to the Breton cab-driver's stentorian 
" He, la-bas! " 

As one comes to the open country again, he 
leaves all these distractions behind, and revels 
in nature, and if he be travelling by road, in 
the stubbornness of cows and sheep and the 
aggressiveness of geese and ducks, all road- 
users like himself. 

Westward of Eennes, twenty kilometres by 
road, is Montfort-sur-Meu, a charming small 
town, situated upon the banks of two tiny 
rivers. Its origin dates back to an ancient 
eleventh-century fortress, which remains to- 

334 Rambles in Brittany 

day in the form of a great cylindrical machi- 
colated tower. The Seigneury of Montfort, 
since the fifteenth century, has passed succes- 
sively, by marriage or by heritage, through the 
houses of Laval, Rieux, Coligny, and La 

Next is Montauban, with a fine, moss-grown 
ruin of a chateau, dating from the fifteenth 
century; the town itself numbers three thou- 
sand inhabitants, but it does not look it. 

St. Meen, a dozen kilometres farther on, was 
born of a monastery founded in the tenth cen- 
tury by a holy man of its name. It was des- 
troyed and rebuilt many times in the years to 
follow, but its old abbatial church still exists, 
one tower coifed by a dome, and another, 
smaller and flat. But no one comes here to see 
this fine old monkish relic but the farming 
folk from round about, though St. Meen is a 
town of three thousand souls and an idyllic ar- 
tists' sketching-ground. No colony of painters 
has yet settled here, leaving it a wholly new 
field to exploit by any painter looking for new 
worlds to conquer. 

Loudeac and Pontivy, the one in the Cotes 
du Nord, and the other in the Morbihan, are 
two characteristically Breton towns bearing no 
relation whatever to the outside world. It 

Rennes and Beyond 335 

seems doubtful indeed if the inhabitants of 
these two centres are aware that there is any 
outside world, so taken up are they with their 
own little affairs. 

Loudeac has some six thousand inhabitants, 
but it has no apparent industries to hold all 
these people together, and it seems as if they 
had simply grouped themselves at the crossing 
of five great routes and built a town. Its foun- 
dation does not go very far back into antiquity ; 
its parish church is only 150 years old, but 
the Chapel of Notre Dame Vertus dates from 
the thirteenth century. 

In October, November, and December are 
held great cider-apple markets, which, from 
their magnitude, would seem to be the chief 
source of income of the population. 

The ancient slogan of Pontivy, born of Revo- 
lutionary times, was " Freedom or Death," 
which is not far different from the battle-cry 
of socialists the world over to-day. The con- 
dition of the inhabitants of Pontivy, however, 
does not differ from most folk elsewhere, and 
the frowning walls of its old castle ironically 
point to the fact that the time has not yet come 
when a successful social revolution can be 
steered through the breakers ahead — not even 
in France, where indeed there are even more 

336 Rambles in Brittany 

advanced ideas on the subject than in Germany 

The memory of this event, though the 
" Treaty of Pontivy " was sent broadcast 
through all the communes of France, has quite 
died out, and the serenity of a little Breton 
market-town long ago settled upon Pontivy, 
with nothing but a dim memory existing to 
neutralize the admiration one is bound to have 
for the town's wonderfully picturesque castle. 
It is a grand ruin with crumbled roof and walls, 
but its outlines are as clear as ever they were, 
and if it has not the magnitude or magnificence 
of many others of its class, it looks far more 
imposing, and forms an exquisite stage setting 
for any mediaeval romance one is able to con- 
jure up. The history of Pontivy and its castle 
is this: 

The town owes its origin to a monastery built 
here in the seventh century by St. Ivy, an Eng- 
lish monk. The castle, however, was a founda- 
tion of seven hundred years later, by John of 
Kohan, in 1485. At the creation of the duchy 
of Eohan, in 1663, Pontivy became the first 
seat of this jurisdiction. 

At the Revolution the famous Pontivy treaty 
mentioned came into being, with the result that 
in 1802 a consuls' decree prescribed the con- 

Rennes and Beyond 337 

struction of a vast barrack at Pontivy, and the 
canalization of the river Blavet, upon which it 
sits, down to the sea. 

Napoleon, however, by a decree given at 
Milan, sought to create a new town south of 
the present city, whose name should be Napo- 
leonville. All this because Pontivy had de- 
clared for the rights of man. When the Revo- 
lutionists sought power Pontivy had every 
chance, but with Napoleon his desire was to 
efface it. 

Pontivy is distinctly Breton in every aspect; 
its manners, customs, and above all its cos- 
tumes. Decidedly one's itinerary in Brittany 
should be made to include it. 

Rostrenen is a delightful old town banked 
high upon a hillside some six hundred feet 
above the valley. The old-time collegiate 
church is a thirteenth-century foundation, 
which, though restored in our day, has all the 
loveliness of the era of its foundation well 

Like the church at Josselin it is called Our 
Lady of the Blackberry-bush, from a miracu- 
lous Virgin found beneath a blackberry-bush. 
The great day of pilgrimage to this shrine is 
the fifteenth of August. 

Carhaix is a little Breton town now all but 

338 Rambles in Brittany 

shorn of its former importance, though its 
breed of cattle is prized above all others in 
Brittany, — as if that were enough to keep its 
memory alive. Anciently Carhaix was the cap- 
ital of the Vorganiurn, whose peoples took an 
active part in the wars against Caesar. Seven 
Roman ways centred here, and there are yet 
to be seen the remains of an ancient Roman 

Vorganiurn ultimately lost its rank, and was 
made a part of the realm of Cornouaille 
founded by King Grollo, who gave Carhaix its 
present name — then Ker-Ahes. 

Carhaix is the birthplace of La Tour d'Au- 
vergne, " the first Grenadier of France." His 
career was almost legendary, and after his 
famous infernal column which went up against 
the Spaniards in the Pyrenees, he retired to 
the city of his birth, and took up the study of 
the Celtic tongue. In 1796, when the Terror 
broke out, at the age of fifty-two, he took the 
haversack and cartridge-box of a simple soldier, 
to replace the son of an old friend who had been 
drawn by conscription. He would never ad- 
vance a single grade, but remained in the ranks 
from this time forward, and was killed at the 
battle of Oberhausen in Bavaria. His heart is 
enshrined in the Hotel des Invalides at Paris, 

Rennes and Beyond 339 

having been brought there and buried with 
great pomp in 1904. 

Carhaix has a real novelty in its horse- 
market, held before the Church of St. Tremeur. 
There is nothing actually profane or sacri- 
legious about this perhaps ; but yet again, per- 
haps there is. Certainly it is incongruous to 
see a long string of horses tethered to the very 
church door-knob itself, with the breeders 
seated back against the church wall smoking 
tobacco and eating and drinking. 

Huelgoat is in the very heart of Finistere. 
It is as typical in the manners and customs of 
these parts as is Pont l'Abbe in Cornouaille or 
Auray in Morbihan. It has one of the finest 
sites given to a town in all Brittany, and 
abounds in quaintness and beauty. 

There are various ecclesiastical monuments 
and religious shrines in and near the town, of 
which the guide-books tell, and all are well 
worth visiting. 

The market-place of Huelgoat does not differ 
greatly from other market-places in Brittany. 
The costumes are brilliant in magpie colours, 
— if white coifs flashing in the sunlight can 
be said to make colour, — and the little life 
and the little affairs of the peasant people 
scintillate and fluctuate from day to day as if 

340 Rambles in Brittany 

they were the most serious and momentous 
things in all the world. 

Above, on the right, rises the quaint bell- 
tower of the sixteenth-century church, not beau- 
tiful of itself, perhaps, but grouping wonder- 
fully with the moving foreground. 

Huelgoat is a great place for ducks, evi- 
dently, for ducks big, little, and of all colours 
of the rainbow are apparently the chief and 
staple article of trade. What the value may 
be to-day, as compared with what it was last 
market-day, no one can prognosticate. Two 
francs is certainly not much for a nice fat duck, 
just waiting to be plucked and garnished with 
green peas, but two francs for a brace is 
cheaper still, and two francs for a whole flock 
or bevy, or whatever formation ducks group 
themselves in, is a still better bargain, and on 
occasions you may buy a whole duck and drake 
family — father and mother and two or three 
youngsters — for a matter of une piece, which 
is the Breton's way of counting a hundred sous 
or five francs. 

From Huelgoat the highroad branches to 
Morlaix in the northwest, and Landerneau, di- 
rectly to the west, when one comes once more on 
the national road, running westward from Alen- 
§on by way of Fougeres and the north to Brest. 




Brittany has been called * * the Land of Cal- 
varies and Pardons.' ' This does not mean 
much to one who has never come under the 
spell of these strange sights and survivals, but 
it means a great deal to those who realize to the 
full the real significance of the devoutness and 
religious motives which inspire the Breton folk 
to worship God in a manner which, in the pres- 
ent age of disregard for the Christian religion 
of our forefathers, seems to be playing less and 
less a foremost part. 

" Venez done un tour au Pays de St. Yves. 

Au pays du Creizker finement dentele\ 

Venez done faire un tour au Pays de Calvaires, 

Au Pays des Pardons mystiques et joyeux." 

So sang Theodore Botrel in a charming series 
of verses written as an invitation to his fellow 
Frenchmen to know more of the ancient prov- 


342 Rambles in Brittany 

ince of Brittany. Since Brittany is so very 
religious, the most devout of all the provinces 
of the France of to-day, the following account 
of the disposition of certain observances under 
the care of the state is apropos. 

France is said to be Catholic, because the 
majority of the people profess Catholicism, 
which apparently answers their wants better 
than any other. As a matter of fact, however, 
there is the coestablishment of four religions, 
all of which are recognized by the state and 
their ministers paid by the state. So, virtually, 
there are four state religions, if they can be 
so called. In truth, there is no religious head 
in France ; neither the chief of state, the Arch- 
bishop of Paris (there are three other heads 
of religions, so manifestly one could not be 
chosen), nor the minister of public worship can 
be called upon to fill the office, hence there is 
no national religion, though the Koman Cath- 
olic faith predominates to-day as in the past. 

Since we are concerned herein with Brittany 
alone, and since the Breton is accounted the 
most devoutly Catholic of all Frenchmen, it is 
enough to define the organization of the Eoman 
Catholic religion alone, leaving the question of 
the Calvinists, the Lutherans, and the Israelites 

Religious Festivals 343 

quite apart, as they exist not at all in Brittany 
as a factor of the local conditions of life. 

The parish is the unit in the Catholic Church 
organization in France, as the commune is the 
unit in civil administration; the parishes are 
divided into cures and succursales. 

The first class, which number forty-five hun- 
dred throughout France, have for their pastor 
a priest who is immovable, nominated by the 
bishop with the approval of the government. 
The second class have a pastor who is nomi- 
nated by the bishop, but who can be removed or 
replaced. The parish priest may have one or 
more assistants. Above the parish priest in 
rank is the bishop. 

In general the bishoprics correspond with the 
departments, though there are eighty-four dio- 
ceses and but sixty-seven bishops, the arch- 
bishops of the "ecclesiastical provinces " — 
which often include several departments and 
dioceses — making up the number. 

In Brittany the Departments of Ille-et-Vi- 
laine, Cotes du Nord, Finistere, Morbihan, and 
Loire-Inferieure have a bishopric, with an arch- 
bishopric at Bennes. 

The bishops are nominated by the chief of 
the state, but are invested canonically by the 
Pope. They are assisted by vicars-general, 

344 Rambles in Brittany 

who undertake the administrative functions of 
the diocese. The canonical chapter of the cathe- 
dral, the diocesan seminary, and all other semi- 
naries are under the authority of the vicar- 

Above the bishops are the archbishops, who 
administer to the wants of their diocese in the 
same way as the bishops, and, in addition, pre- 
side at all provincial councils, ordain the bish- 
ops, and in general have a certain jurisdiction 
over the bishoprics of their sees. 

The ecclesiastical provinces, as the great ad- 
ministrative districts of the Church are known, 
correspond to-day, in a great part, to the an- 
cient provinces of the Eoman epoch in Gaul, as 
the bishoprics themselves correspond with the 
ancient cities and towns. 

Higher up even than the archbishops are the 
cardinals, nominated by the Pope with the con- 
currence of the head of the French nation. 
To-day there are five cardinals in France, all 
being titularies of one of the Eoman churches 
and members of the Sacred College which elects 
the Pope. 

Those who know Brittany will recognize as 
the foremost trait and characteristic of the 
people their devotion to religious forms and 

Religious Festivals 345 

It has been said that by nature the Bretons 
are conservative. This is indeed true enough, 
but they are something more, they are super- 
stitious, not only with regard to certain phases 
of their religion, but also with respect to many 
of their local customs, which have naught to do 
with religion. It is said that belief in witch- 
craft still endures, and certain it is that folk- 
lore and fairy-lore are, in some parts, quite as 
much of the life of the people as is the case 
in the bogs of Ireland. The Celtic imagination, 
which is the same in both instances, doubtless 
accounts for this. What the Bretons really are, 
or have been, though they have not often been 
accused of it, is pagan, — at least some of them 
are. It was only in the seventeenth century 
that the pagan cult — as a body of magnitude 
— was suppressed. This again was a survival, 
of course, from the barbarous rites and prac- 
tices of the druids, which indeed were the 
same elsewhere, so it need not be laid up 
against the Bretons alone. 

Probably those vast colonies of megalithic 
monuments at Carnac, and their orphaned 
brothers and sisters scattered elsewhere 
throughout Brittany, did much to keep the 
flames aglow on pagan altars, and even to-day 
it is easy to perceive with what awe and vener- 

346 Rambles in Brittany 

ation the simple-minded Breton peasant re- 
gards these weird survivals of other days. At 
any rate, Breton religion to-day is a devotion 
to many forms and ceremonies. 

Brittany has been called the land of pardons 
(pays des pardons). Every one knows of these 
great Breton festivals and of their significance. 
If one travel between May and October, scarcely 
a week will pass without his falling unawares 
upon one or another of these great sacred fetes. 

All Bretons do not give to these rites the 
sacred regard with which they were originally 
intended to be endowed. Decidedly they have 
been profaned only too often, and at times 
there is a little too much license. The Breton 
pardon is by no means to be thought of in the 
same manner as the kermess of Flanders, 
which is a merrymaking pure and simple, with 
not even a side-light of religion thrown upon 

The five great pardons of Brittany are held 
each year as follows: 

" The Pardon of the Poor," at St. Yves; 
" The Pardon of the Singers,' ' at Rumengol; 
" The Pardon of the Fire," at St. Jean du 
Doigt; "The Pardon of the Mountain," at 
Tromenie de St. Ronan; " The Pardon of the 
Sea," at Ste. Anne de la Palude. 

Religious Festivals 347 

It is a moot question as to just how much of 
romance is in the make-up of the Breton char- 
acter. Emotional the people are, but the emo- 
tion that leads them into the enthusiasm which 
they exhibit at their great religious festivals 
and pardons is more superstitious than ro- 

The druidism, or paganism, or whatever the 
religion {sic) of the ancient peoples of the 
Armorican peninsula may have been, bears not 
the least traditional resemblance to the fervour 
of the devotees of the pardons of to-day, but 
one can readily believe that the same spirit, if 
with a different motive, does exist even now. 

The blessing of the boats, the birds, the 
cows, and what not, which takes place periodi- 
cally at different points along the Breton coast, 
— for it is mostly along the coast that these 
observances take place, — smacks not a little of 
something that is of more psychological pur- 
port than mere religious devotion. 

From whatever tradition these great relig- 
ious observances have descended, there is no 
question of the sincerity of the participants, 
though there is a wide difference between the 
" sacred " and " profane " elements which 
meet on these occasions. 

Brittany, perhaps as much as any other of the 

348 Rambles in Brittany 

ancient provinces of France, has preserved its 
local customs and traditions, unblushingly in- 
different to the changing conditions round 
about them. Of course there is no reason why 
religion and its observances should change 
with the march of time, but they do, neverthe- 
less, in France as much as in any other land. 
Only in Brittany, apparently, do the congrega- 
tions of men and women — for elsewhere the 
congregations are mostly women — of great 
churches approach to anything like the numbers 
that the churches were built to contain. 

Throughout this land of calvaries, too, there 
will be found at all times of the day, and often 
at night, a tiny congregation of one, two, or 
perhaps a half a dozen, peasant or fisher folk 
kneeling before one of these wayside crosses, 
and invoking their God after the manner they 
have been taught, in a truly devout and sincere 
fashion, which is more than can be said of 
some parts, where the peasant, when on a visit 
to town on the market-day, rushes in and out 
of a church with hardly time enough devoted 
to the whole process even to have used the holy 

Brittany may be a poor and impoverished 
province, and in many respects it has not the 
abundance of the good things of life which one 

Religious Festivals 349 

finds in Touraine, Burgundy, or the Midi, but 
there is a general air of prosperity in the gay 
accoutrements of the men and women who shine 
forth on the occasions of the great pardons, 
showing a snug wardrobe stowed away some- 

As one leaves Normandy, at Pontorson, he 
enters Brittany — the land of calvaries. These 
fine monuments are not the calvaries which 
have made the old province famous, — the great 
stone crosses of Finistere, — but are for the 
most part unpretentious pieces of wood put 
together in the form of a cross, or a like symbol, 
rudely hammered out of a piece of iron by the 
local blacksmith. 

One notes many of these simple crosses 
throughout Brittany ; simple as compared with 
the more elaborate calvaries, though they may 
have one, two, or even more sculptured figures 
in the arms or branches of the cross. One of 
the most ancient of these, dating from the 
fourteenth or fifteenth century, is at Scaer in 

It is a question as to whether any of the great 
monumental calvaries of Brittany can be con- 
sidered really artistic. They are imposing, — 
some of them even terrifying in their strange 
grandeur, — but all of them seem theatrical, 

350 Rambles in Brittany 

however sincere and devout the motive for their 
erection may have been. The chief and most 
elaborate examples are those at Plougastel, 
near Brest, and St. Thegonnec in Finistere 
(dating from 1610). 

Besides these really great and celebrated 
functions are many others of minor purport, 
such as the " Benediction of the Boats " and 
the " Benediction of the Fields." The latter 
occurs when the caterpillars and earthworms 
fall upon and ravage the land. The local cure, 
with the permission of the bishop, then blesses 
the fields. In the midst of the fields the cure 
takes up his position on some slight eminence, 
clad in a white surplice, with a violet stole, and 
begs God to exterminate the noxious insects, 
the prayers meanwhile being accompanied with 
the sprinkling of holy water and burning of 

The Pardon of St. Jean du Doigt, on the 
twenty-second of June, is perhaps the most 
solemn of all its species, and for that reason is 
described here. 

The Pardon of St. Yves, in the Tregarris, of 
Rumengol and Ste. Anne de la Palude, in Finis- 
tere, are especially religious and severe, while 
that of Notre Dame de la Clarte, in the Morbi- 

Religious Festivals 351 

ban, has the double purpose of homage to Our 
Lady and the facilitating of marriage. 

Here the young peasants in search of a 
spouse promenade around the church, and 
when they have made their choice they address 
the young lady and ask her if she will accept 
the gift; the boy having meanwhile bought a 
large round cake. " Will mademoiselle break 
the cake with me! ' ' says he. If she accept, they 
consider themselves as engaged, after which 
their families meet together and discuss the 
conditions of the marriage. 

At Creac'higuel, near Eosporden, the pardon 
endures for three days, and here one sees the 
wonderful 'broidered waistcoats and collarettes 
and beribboned hats of the young men of Pont 
Aven, Quimperle, and Scaer, unique in all 

In July, at Guingamp, is the procession to 
Our Lady of Good Help, with the inevitable 
salute of firearms, and a torchlight procession 
of ten or twelve thousand pilgrims — and some 
others who are merely profane lookers-on. 

The " Benediction of the Sea " at Concar- 
neau, Douarnenez, Trebone, and many other 
seacoast villages and hamlets, is another re- 
ligious manifestation which is always attractive 
to the curious. 

352 Rambles in Brittany 

At the pardon of St. Jean du Doigt the 
precious relic of the saint is guarded before 
the high altar of the church by an abbe clad 
in his surplice and holding in his hand the 
precious finger enveloped in fine linen. One 
by one the faithful pass before the abbe and 
touch, for an instant, the sainted relic. 

Near the choir, another cleric holds aloft the 
skull of St. Meriadec, before which the pil- 
grims bow their heads as they pass. Before 
leaving the church, in response to the call, 
"Dour ar bis! Dour ar bis!" sung in a 
strident Celtic voice, the pilgrims repair to a 
fountain attached to the side wall, in which the 
finger has previously been bathed at the end 
of a gold chain. Immediately this operation is 
over, the devout plunge their palms deep into 
the sanctified water and vehemently rub their 
eyes. Then the pardon is finished, and the pro- 
fane festivity begins. 

" Whence come you! " was asked of a 
happy family of three at St. Jean du Doigt. 
" From St. Jean-Brevelay, ' ' they replied, men- 
tioning a village a hundred kilometres away, 
in Morbihan. " We have walked three suns 
and three moons,' ' — which sounds like the 
American Indian's method of reckoning by 
moons, but which in this case meant merely that 

J).JH*Ma""a -i<}e1 


S. JEA^-ctu- DOiQT 

Pardon of St. Jean du Doigt 

Religious Festivals 353 

they had been on the road three days and three 

The little Church of St. Jean du Doigt 
offers complete and perfect example of what 
a village church should be. The building itself 
is surrounded by the churchyard, with its monu- 
mental portal, or triumphal arch, as it is always 
called hereabouts, its sacred fountain, its cal- 
vary, its ossuary, and its open-air oratory for 
the celebration of the mass for the pilgrims. 

The triumphal arch is a great fifteenth-cen- 
tury gateway surmounted by two niches con- 
taining two ancient Gothic statues, one of St. 
John the Baptist, and the other of St. Roch. 

With the coming of twilight, when the mists 
roll in from the sea, the silhouetted couples 
(lovers), following the ancient custom, prom- 
enade arm in arm, or rather hand in hand, 
each holding the other by the little finger, in 
deference to the finger of St. John. 

When the darkness has actually fallen, the 
bonfires flame out on the far-away sands, the 
light reflected in the waves in truly eerie 
fashion, and so the great day of pardon and 
festival departs into the past. 

Chant and song play a great part in all these 
religious festivals, not only the officiating 
priests, but the public singing. These religious 

354 Rambles in Brittany 

chants seem to give rise to others less devout, 
of which the two following are typical. 

If one is in South Finistere on the occasion 
of the celebration of the ' ' Pardon of the Sing- 
ers," he will hear the following lines sung 
tumultuously by the local swains: 

" Entre Brest et Lorient 
Leste, leste, 
Entre Brest et Lorient 

" Les gabiers de la misaine 
Sont des filles de quinze ans. 
Entre Brest et Lorient 
Leste, leste." 

At the " Pardon of the Sea," in the Paimpol 
country, one hears these sombre words: 

" Tais-toi ! tais-toi ! maitresse exquise ! 
Je vois ma mort dans l'eau." 

The great extent to which the Breton people 
carry their respect and devotion to religious 
ceremony of all sorts is no better exemplified 
than in the observance of the Miz-dus (the black 
months, or the mourning months) by those who 
have banded themselves together and formed 
a sort of " cult of the dead." In reality, how- 
ever, it is merely a mourning for the departed, 

Religious Festivals 355 

by the widows or mothers of the fishermen and 

In November, when the Miz-dus begin, 
widows in most picturesque, though sombre, 
costumes are continually met with in the Mor- 
bihan, and such seacoast towns as Ploubaz- 
lanec, Portz — even (where there is a "wid- 
ows' cross/' quite the most frequented shrine 
of all) Saint Cast, on the coast of the Chan- 
nel, or at Pontivy. 

Anatole le Braz, in the " Legend of the 
Dead," has written a complete history of the 
funeral superstitions which obtain in Brittany 
at this season. 

The " Cult of the Dead," as it is known, is 
unique among similar observances in all 
France. Virtually it is a display of devotion 
and respect for one's ancestors. In the rural 
and seacoast parishes of Morbihan, Finistere, 
and the Cotes du Nord the custom is found 
most highly developed. 

The little cemeteries of Brittany are better 
than mere formal gardens with rectangular 
walks and well-clipt trees and hedges. Mostly, 
they have winding little alleys, and are set out 
with apple-trees and wild-flowers. 

In downright bad taste, these cemeteries, in 
common with most others in France, have an 

356 Rambles in Brittany 

abundance of wire and bead memorial wreaths 
and crowns. Why it is that the French, with 
their usually highly developed artistic sense, 
affect these artificialities, is a question to which 
no one has had the temerity to devise an 

At Ploubazlanec, a tiny village settled upon 
a cliff overlooking the Bay of Paimpol, are the 
funeral monuments of many who have lost their 
lives by drowning in a frozen sea, as you will 
be told. 

In 1901, three ships from these parts disap- 
peared, crew and cargo, following the sinister 
local expression, in the cold waters off Iceland, 
whither the little fleet had gone for the fishing. 
In the cemetery, in the side of the mortuary 
chapel, is a section known as i ' the wall of those 
who disappeared,' ' and here you may read, 
many times repeated, such inscriptions as the 
following : 

"En M<5moire de Gilles Br6zellec, 17 ans, d6c6de" a Islande. 
En M6moire de Jean-Marie Brezellec, 16 ans, d6c£d6 a 

En MSmoire de Yves Brezellec, 37 ans, d6c6de* a Islande. 
Priez Dieu pour eux ! " 

A whole family shattered and broken up, leav- 
ing perhaps a wife and an old mother depend- 

Religious Festivals 357 

ent upon charity, or such a scanty living as can 
be picked up intermittently. 

At Kerity, also, is an Icelanders' cemetery, 
and here one may read the names, beginning 
with that of the captain, of the crew of twenty, 
all hailing from the home port of Kerity, who 
were lost in the white fiords of Iceland in an- 
other catastrophe. 

Nowhere in the known world is there any- 
thing like the wholesale risk of life which goes 
on yearly from the ports of Finistere and the 
Cotes du Nord, unless it be that among the 
American fishermen on the Grand Banks, hail- 
ing from Gloucester, on Massachusetts Bay. 

If the visitor to Brittany has not yet made 
the acquaintance of the heroes of Loti's " Ice- 
land Fishermen," he should do so forthwith, 
for it was at Ploubazlanec that the great Yann 
Gaos was interred, and near him reposed his 
father and little Sylvestre. 

The Celtic spirit of the modern Breton has 
preserved the legend or superstition of " An- 
Ankou," the spirit of death. In many villages 
one may interrogate a peasant or a fisherman, 
who will affirm that it is " Ankou " who leads 
the way for the funeral-car and who waits at 
the grave to carry the soul of the departed away 
with him after the others have left. 

358 Rambles in Brittany 

Among the superstitious signs which presage 
the coming of the ' ' Ankou ' ' are, a ball of fire, 
which rests upon the tiles of the roof over the 
stricken one, — a most unlikely thing, one would 
think, — the theft of grain by crows, the tap- 
ping of a window-pane by the beak of a sea- 
bird, the prolonged bellowing of cattle by the 
light of the moon, a candle which will not light, 
or for a peasant to split or cleave two pairs 
of wooden shoes in one week. 




Up to 1789, there were thirty-three great governments 
making up modern France, the twelve governments created 
by Francis I. being the chief, and seven petits gouvernements 
as well. 

The Provinces of France 




In the following table the grands gouvernements of the first 
foundation are indicated in heavy-faced type, those which 
were taken from the first in italics, and those which were 
acquired by conquest in ordinary characters. 


1. Ile-de-France . 

2. Picardie . 

3. Normandie 

4. Bretagne 

5. Champagne et Brie 

6. Orleanais . 

7. Maine et Perche 









14. Bourgogne (duche - de) 

15. Lyonnais, Forez et Beaujolais 

16. Auvergne .... 

17. Bourbonnais 

18. Marche .... 

19. Guyenne et Gascogne 

20. Saintonge et Angoumois 1 

21. Limousin .... 

22. Be'arn et Basse Navarre . 

23. Languedoc 

24. Comte' de Foix . 

25. Provence .... 

26. Dauphine .... 

27. Flandre et Hainaut . 

28. Artois .... 

29. Lorraine et Barrois . 

30. Alsace .... 

31. Franche-Comte ou Comte de Bourgogne 

32. Roussilon .... 

33. Corse .... 








Le Mans. 






La Rochelle. 





















* Under Francis I. the Angoumois was comprised in the Orleanais. 



The seven petits gouvernements were : 

1. The ville, pr^vote" and vicomte" of Paris. 

2. Havre de Grace. 

3. Boulonnais. 

4. Principality of Sedan. 

5. Metz and Verdun, the pays Messin and Verdunois. 

6. Toul and Toulois. 

7. Saumur and Saumurois. 







Pays d'Alet 

Pays de Briere 

Cornouailles . 

Le Desert 


Pays de Dol . 

Pays de Greve 




Pays de Vannes 

Ille et Vilaine. 
Loire Infr. 
Ille et Vilaine. 
C6tes du Nord. 
C6tes du Nord. 
C6tes du Nord. 
Loire Infr. 
Ille et Vilaine. 



Nominoe . . . . „ 


Guerech . . . 

. . 980 



Conan I. . . . 

. 987 



Geoffroy I. . . 

. . 992 

Pasqueten and Gur- 

Alain III. . . 

. . 1008 



Conan II. . . 

. . 1040 

Alain I 


Hoelll. . . . 

. . 1066 

Gurmailhon .... 


Alain Fergent . 

. . 1084 

Juhael Be>anger . . 


Conan III. . . 

. . 1112 

Alain II. (Barbe Torte) 


Eudes and Hoel III 

[. . 1148 

Drogon ...... 


Geoffroy II. . . 

. . 1156 

Hoell. ,...■. 


Constance and Art 

hur 1171 



Pierre Mauclerc and 

Alix 1186 

Jean 1 1213 

Jean II 1237 

Arthur II. .... 1286 

Jean III 1305 

Charles de Blois . . 1312 

Jean IV. de Montfort 1341 

JeanV. 1365 

Francois 1 1399 

Pierre II. . . , . 1450 
Arthur III. . . . . 1457 
Francois II. ... 1458 
Duchess Anne, who 
married Charles 
VIII. and afterward 
Louis XI. of France, 




Metre = 39.3708 in. = 3.231. 3 ft. 3 1-2 in. = 1.0936 yard. 

Square Metre (metre carre") = 1 l-5th square yards (1.196). 

Are (or 100 sq. metres) = 119.6 square yards. 

Cubic Metre (or Stere) = 35 1-2 cubic feet. 

Centimetre = 2-5ths inch. 

Kilometre = 1,093 yards = 5-8 mile. 

10 Kilometres = 6 1-4 miles. 

100 Kilometres = 62 l-10th miles. 

Square Kilometre = 2-5ths square mile. 

Hectare = 2 1-2 acres (2.471). 

100 Hectares = 247.1 acres. 

Gramme = 15 1-2 grains (15.432). 

10 Grammes = l-3d oz. Avoirdupois. 

15 Grammes = 1-2 oz. Avoirdupois. 

Kilogramme = 2 l-5th lbs. (2.204) Avoirdupois. 

10 Kilogrammes = 22 lbs. Avoirdupois. 

Metrical Quintal = 220 1-2 lbs. Avoirdupois. 

Tonneau = 2,200 lbs. Avoirdupois. 

Litre = 0.22 gal. = 13-4 pint. 

Hectolitre = 22 gallons. 



<0 </» 


t i 

1 « 










































% L 



























: s 



















_y> . 

. E 





1 * 





> | 






J 5 - 













- "3 















- o 

• '5 

■ ^ 


i? % 

r . 











Appendices 365 


Inch = 2.539 centimetres = 25.39 millimetres. 

2 inches = 5 centimetres nearly. 

Foot = 30.47 centimetres. 

Yard = 0.9141 metre. 

12 yards = 11 metres nearly. 

Mile= 1.609 kilometre. 

Square foot = 0.093 metre carre\ 

Square yard = 0.836 metre carre\ 

Acre = 0.4046 hectare = 4,003 sq. metres nearly. 

2 1-2 acres = 1 hectare nearly. 

Pint = 0.5679 litre. 

1 3-4 pint = 1 litre nearly. 
Gallon = 4.5434 litres = 4 nearly. 
Bushel = 36.347 litres. 

Oz. Troy = 31.103 grammes. 

Pound Troy (5,760 grains) = 373.121 grammes. 

Oz. Avoirdupois = 8.349 grammes. 

Pound Avoirdupois (7,000 grains) = 453.592 grammes. 

2 lbs. 3 oz. = kilogramme nearly. 
100 lbs. = 45.359 kilogrammes. 
Cwt. = 50.802 kilogrammes. 
Ton = 1,018.048 kilogrammes. 




Sketch Map of Circular Tour in Brittany. Fares from 
Kennes, 65 francs, 1st class ; 50 francs, 2d class. 

Itinerary: Rennes, Saint - Malo - Saint - Servan, Dinard, 
Saint-Brieuc, Guingamp, Lannion, Morlaix, Roscoff, Brest, 
Quimper, Douarnenez, Pont-l'Abb6, Concarneau, Lorient, 
Auray, Quiberon, Vannes, Savenay, Le Croisic, Gue>ande, 
Saint-Nazaire, Pont-Chateau, Redon, Rennes. 




Cloturt ^*^ 


1 :r v~^^7=7^?Fn-i ' - 

Architectural Names of the Various Parts of a Feudal Chateau 




S»| gff25| IPSO | g»7SJ 3 1 *] 

^ ^_ ,-j-* ^ _l_ 

3JL- "sL 3 SU £l- *"44- 
2*L i 6 "iit- 8 "i£|^ 6 *£L. 





A^yuioa ( 

Marie monianie Pleine mei» tyaree descendant**. 




*>*vliO" 4 ► 


Tide and Weather Signals in the Ports of Brittany 

Appendices 369 

By day the signals showing the depth of water — in metres 
— at the harbour entrance are shown by balls or small bal- 
loons ; at night these are replaced by lanterns. (See top 
diagram.) The flag signals of the other diagrams explain 




Plougastel-Daoulas. — Easter Monday, the Monday of 
Pentecote, 29th June, and 15th August. 

Pont l'Abbf; 25th March, Monday of Pentecote, 3d Sun- 
day of July, 4th Sunday of September. 

Concarneau (Ste. Gu£nol6) First Sunday in May, (Sainte 

Croix) 14th September, (Pardon du Rosaire) First Sun- 
day in October. 

Bannalec. — Ascension Day. 

Quimperle*. — Trinity Sunday, second Sunday of May, last 
Sunday of July, third Sunday in September. 

Quimperle" — Easter Monday. 

Rumengal. — Trinity Sunday. 

Loctudy Sunday following 11th May, and 2d Sunday of 


Pont Aven. — > Second Sunday of May and third Sunday of 

Saint Jean du Doigt. — 23d and 24th June. 

Roscoff. — Mid-June and 15th August. 

Camaret (Fete de la Peche et Benediction de la Mer) 

Third Sunday in June. 

Locronan (Petite Trom6nie every year ; Grande Trom^nie 
every six years). — Second Sunday of July. 

Rosporden. — Second Sunday in July. 

Le Folgoet. — 15th August, and 7th and 8th September. 

370 Appendices 

Quimper. — 15th, 16th, and 17th August. 
Huelgoat. — Three days — first Sunday of August. 
Ste. Anne de la Palude. — Saturday evening and last Sun- 
day of August. 
Scaer. — Last Sunday of August. 
Audierne. — Last Sunday of August. 
Penmarc'h (Pardon du Rosaire). — First Sunday of October. 

department of the morbihan 

St. Gildas de Rhuis. — 29th of January. 

Auray. — (Ouverture du Pardon de St. Anne) 7th March, 

(Principal Pardon) 25th and 26th of July. 
Locmine\ — Three days from the Sunday nearest 27th June. 
Ste. Barbe en Faouet. — Last Sunday of June. 
St. Fiacre pres le Faouet. — Fourth Sunday in July. 
Locmariaquer. — Second Sunday in September. 
Pontivy. — Second Sunday in September. 
Carnac. — Third Sunday in September, (Pardon of St. 

Comely) the Sunday nearest the 14th September. 
Pont Scorff. — Third Sunday in September. 
Le Faouet. — First Sunday in October. 



Bod, Bot. — A place surrounded by a wood. Bodilis, Botsorheh 

Bras, Bre. — High, elevated. Braspart, Brelevene\ 

Cone, — A harbour or bay, Concarneau, le Conquet. 

Car. — A manor or chateau. Carhaix. 

Coat. — A wood or forest. Coatascorn, Coatreven. 

Crug. — Amid the rocks. Cruguel. 

Faou. — A place planted with oaks. Le Faouet. 

Guic Bourg. Guichen (old bourg), 



Hen. — Old. Henvic, Henpont. 

Ker or Kaer. — Manor, chateau. Kerlouan, Kervignac. 

Lan. — Church or consecrated spot. Lannion, Lanildut. 

Les, Lis. — Court or jurisdiction. Lesneven, Lezardrieux. 

Loc — Oratoire or hermitage. Locmaria. 

Me'ne. — Mountain. M6ne" Bre\ 

Mor. — The sea. Morbihan (la petite mer). 

Pen Promontory summit or extremity. Penmarc'h, Paim- 

boeuf (par corruption). 
Pie, Plea, Plo, Plou, Plu. — Parish. P16h<§del, Pleudihen, 

Poul. — Hole or basin. Pouldergat. 

Ros Hill or slope. Roscoff, Rosporden. 

Tref, Tre. — Part of a parish. Tregastel, Tremelior. 











Cotes du Nord 





It is a regrettable fact that the Morbihan has the greatest 
number of illiterates of any of the departments of France. 
Among a hundred conscripts for the army, often thirty or 
forty are classed as illiterate, while in Finistere and the 
Cotes du Nord, the number falls to thirty or less, and in Hie 
et Vilaine to less than twenty. 

1 This table takes no cognizance of those speaking French only 
and not Breton, whilst the three departments given are those 
only in which the knowledge of the Breton tongue is in excess 
of that in other parts. 


Aire, 158. 

Ancenis (and chateau), 99- 

Angers (and castle), 24, 30, 

108, 119, 146, 243, 311, 316. 
Audierne, 89, 212, 213-214, 

Auray, 32, 157, 158, 159-167, 

172, 175, 178, 192, 309, 370. 

Bannelec, 194-195, 369. 

Batz, Isle of, 121, 240-242. 

Baud, 157, 158. 

Baule, 127. 

Becherel, 306. 

Beg-Meil, 201. 

Belle He en Mer, 27, 34, 36, 

171, 173-175- 

Benzec Capcaval, 211. 

Bere, Fair of, 129-130. 

Binic, 267-268, 270. 

Black Mountains, 218. 

Bourg de Batz, n 1, 121, 127. 

Brehat, 43, 259-260. 

Brest, 26, 32, 39, 41, 43, 44, 
47, 5i- 54, 56, 72, 87, 150, 
212, 220, 221-224, 225, 227, 
228, 229, 230, 236, 309, 310, 
340, 350. 

Camaret, 89, 219-220, 369. 
Cancale, 298-300. 
Cape de la Chevre, 214, 217. 
Cap Frehel, 290. 

Carhaix, 54, 310, 337-339- 
Carnac, 159, 163, 167, 168- 

171, 345, 370. 
Cesson, Tower of, 266. 
Cezon, 44. 
Champ Dolent, 303. 
Champtoceaux (and chateau), 

Chateaubriant (and chateau), 

Chateaulin, 27, 2*17-218, 219. 
Chatelaudren, 263.^ 
CI isson (and chateau), 42, 

in, 114-115. 
Combourg (and chateau), 

Concarneau, 43, 89, 197-201, 

202, 205, 212, 215, 216, 219, 

224, 351, 369. 
Corseul, 146. 
Creac'higuel, 351. 
Croisic, 42, III, 121, 127. 
Crozon, 217, 219. 

Daoulas, 229, 369. 

Dinan (and chateau), 24, 54, 

249, 271, 291-297. 
Dinard, 39, 249, 271, 273, 288- 

289, 290. 
Dol, 19, 39, 43, 54, 249, 303- 

305- , , . 

Douarnenez (and bay), 32, 

38, 43, 51, 89, 187, 212, 214- 

216, 217, 219, 351. 



Index of Places 

Elven, 138. 

Ernee (and chateau), 312. 

Etables, 267. 

Falaise, 130. 

Faou, 220, 221. 

Faouet (Finistere), 192-194. 

Folgoet, 224, 237-238, 369. 

Fontaine-Daniel, Abbey of, 

Fougeres (and forest), 54, 

262, 309, 310, 312, 313-315, 

316, 321, 340. 
Fouquet, Chateau, 27, 174. 

Grand Briere, 125. 
Guerande, 121, 125-127. 
Guibray, Fair of, 130. 
Guingamp (and castle), 54, 
86, 87, 250, 260-262, 351. 

Hede, 306. 

Hennebont, 146, 179, 182- 

Huelgoat, 310, 339-340, 370. 

Javron, 313. 
Joie, Abbaye de la, 185. 
Josselin (and chateau), 150, 
IS2-I57, 309, 337- 

Kererault, 229. 

Kerity, 357. 

Kerlean, Manoir of, 138. 

Kerlescan, 169. 

Kerlouan, 224. 

Kermario, 169. 

Kermartin, Manor of, 255. 

Lacroix, 44. 

La Houle, 299. 

" La Joyeuse Garde," Cha- 
teau of, 227. 

Lamballe, 268-269. 

Landeau, 315-316. 

Landerneau, 221, 224-227, 
3io, 340. 

Landivisiau, 221, 227-228. 

Lannion, 24, 74, 89, 250-252. 
Largoet, Fortress of, 138. 
La Roche-Bernard, 128. 
La Trinite, 177-178. 
Laval (and chateau), 54, 56, 

310, 316-318, 322. 
Le Conquet, 230-231, 236. 
Lehon, 297-298. 
Le Legue, 266. 
Le Mans, 54, 310. 
Locmariaquer, 146, 159, 167. 

175-176, 370. 
Locmine, 157-158, 370. 
Lorient, 43, 44, 54, 89, 144, 

175, I79-i8i, 182. 
Loudeac, 310, 334-335- 

Mayenne (and chateau), 54, 

309, 310, 311-312, 316, 322. 
Menac, 169. 
Minden, Fort, 44. 
Miniac, 306. 
Molene, He, 232-233. 
Montauban, 334. 
Mont Dol, 303. 
Montfort-sur-Meu, 310, 333- 

Mont St. Michel (and bay), 

34, 39, 43, 46, 54, 60, 249, 

298, 300-302, 303. 
Morlaix, 43, 54, 63, 94, 238, 

244-247, 249, 340. 
Motte-Broons, 293. 

Nantes (and castle), 4, 7, 
19, 22, 24, 26, 30, 36, 38, 
39, 54, 56, 57, 67, 102, 104, 
105-110, in, 112, 115, 116- 
121, 124, 127, 146, 174, 211, 
221, 243. 

Notre Dame de la Clarte, 

Oudon, 104. 

Ouessant, He, 43, 44, 232, 233- 

Our Lady of Langonnet, 
I Abbey of, 194. 

Index of Places 


Paimboeuf, 42, in, 112. 
Paimpol, 257-259. 
Palais, 44, 173, 175. 
Parame, 39, 271, 272, 274- 

Penmarc'h, 31, 208, 210-21 1, 

Penthievre, 7, 44, 171. 
Pilier, 44. 

Ploermel, 54, 150-152. 
Ploubazlanec, 355, 356, 357. 
Ploudalmezeau, 236-237. 
Plougasnou, 25, 64. 
Plougastel, 221, 228-230, 350, 

Plouharnel, 167, 171. 
Pointe de Kerpenhir, 145. 
Point of Primel, 247. 
Point of Raz, 212, 213, 214. 
Point Sizun, 212. 
Point St. Mathieu, 212. 
Pont Aven, 82, 187, 201, 202- 

205, 351, 369. 
Pont Croix, 214. 
Pontivy (and castle), 54, 334- 

337, 355, 370. 
Pont l'Abbe, 27, 82, 187, 208- 

210, 369. 
Pont Scorff, 179, 185-186, 370. 
Pornic (and chateau), 42, 

in, 112-114. 
Port Haliguen, 172. 
Port Louis, 44, 181-182. 
Port Maria, 172. 
Port Navalo, 43, 145. 
Portz, 355. 
Pouldu, 190. 
Poulgoazec, 214. 
Pre-en-Pail, 309. 
Primelin, 214. 

Questembert, 136. 

Quiberon, 44, 163, 167, 170, 
I7I-I73, 175. 

Quimper, 19, 27, 32, 38, 41, 
53- 54, 60, 72, 75, 82, 93, 
128, 205-208, 212, 224, 370. 

Quimperle, 187-190, 191, 309, 
35i, 369. 

Redon, 24, 128, 132-136. 
Rennes, 19, 22, 24, 25, 41, 

54, 57, 75, 118, 128, 146, 

150, 310, 316, 329-333, 343- 
Rimains, Fort des, 44. 
Rochefort-en-T e r r e (and 

chateau), 27, 136-138. 
Rochers, Chateau of, 324-328. 
Roc'hquerezen, 229. 
Roc'hquillion, 229. 
Roc'huivlen, 229. 
Roscanvel, 217. 

Roscoff, 43, 75, 238-240, 369. 
Rosporden, 31, 194, 195-196, 

201, 351, 369. 
Rostrenen, 337. 
Rotheneuf, 286-287. 
Rumengal, 346, 350, 369. 

Sauzon, 175. 

Savenay, 41, 124-125, 128, 130. 

Scaer, 349, 351, 370. 

Seven Isles, 256-257. 

St. Briac, 27, 290-291. 

St. Brieuc, 19, 29, 60, 262, 

263-266, 268, 270. 
St. Cast, 26, 67, 290, 355. 
Ste. Anne de la Palude, 346, 

350, 370. 
Ste. Marguerite, 127. 
St. £nogat, 273, 288. 289-290. 

St. Fiacre, 26, 191- 192, 370. 
St. Gildas de Rhuis, 27, 148, 

St. Guenole, 211. 
St. Jacut, 27, 272-273, 290. 
St. Jean-Brevelay, 352. 
St. Jean du Doigt, 247-248, 

346, 350, 352-353, 369- 
St. Lunaire, 27, 290. 
St. Malo (and bay), 9, 19, 

27, 39, 43, 44, 54, 56, 57, 
61, 63, 67, 94, 249, 271-274. 
276-283. 285, 288, 291, 300. 


Index of Places 

St. Maurice, Abbey of, 190- 

St. Meen, 334. 
St. Nazaire, 39, 109-111, 112, 

121, 122-124, 128, 144. 
St. Nicolas, 205. 
St. Pol de Leon, 19, 27, 60, 

206, 238, 242-244. 
St. Renan, 236. 
St. Servan, 27, 271, 272, 276, 

St. Thegonnec, 350. 
St. Yves, 346, 350- 
Suscino, Chateau of, 148-150. 

Taureau, Chateau du, 44. 
Tenteniac, 306. 

Tombelaine, Isle of, 34, 302- 

Trebone, 351. 
Treguier, 19, 24, 60, 94, 206, 

250, 252-256. 
Trelaze, 29. 
Tristan, He, 215-216. 
Tromenie de St. Ronan, 346. 

Val Andre, 263, 269-270. 

Vannes, 19, 24, 43, 54, 60, 75, 
128, 134, 136", 138, 139, 140- 
148, 150, 175, 187, 221. 

Ville Martin, 44. 

Vitre (and chateau), 24, 54, 
262, 310, 318-324- 







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