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Culture

A bit of history

The first traces of human presence in Brittany dates from 5000 BC. Although little is known about the people in this period, a number of monuments from that time have survived. Examples are the cemetery hill  "the Cairn Barnenez" at Morlaix and the standing stones “ Menhirs” at Carnac.

Around 500 BC the Celts arrived in Armorica. Fleeing barbarian tribes like the Angles and Saxons,  they sailed to and settled in Brittany. These are the ancestors of the present inhabitants of Brittany. This can be found today, among others, in the language, music and symbolism.
 

    


In 57 BC the Romans occupied the area and remained in charge for 400 years. After the withdrawal of the Romans, the inhabitants were left to their fate.

In the sixth century, more and more Celts settled in Armorica. They called the area "Little Britain".
From the 10th to the 14th century Brittany slowly transformed into a feudal state. Both the French and English kings had their eye on Brittany. In the 15th century, Brittany is at the peak of his power. The Duke of Brittany settled in Nantes. He launched the state into a new era in which artists were given free space and the Breton culture was allocated an important historical role.

Those were golden times for Brittany, but this did not go unnoticed by France.  France decided it wants to pick up a piece of the Breton success and so the Bretons were massacred at the Battle of Saint Aubin du Cormier in 1488. From that time forward, Brittany became a part of France.

During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century the economy faltered in Brittany, despite a thriving canning industry. Fishing in Iceland and Newfoundland was also an important means of livelihood. As poets, folklorists, ethnologists went to capture the Breton traditions and ancient legends, the awareness of the Celtic heritage increased.

Brittany had suffered much during the Second World War, but recovered well after that period. Toll-free highways, high-speed trains and construction of airports have ended the Breton isolation. Brittany is now the second most popular tourist destination in France.

Language

Breton is the only Celtic language which is not officially recognized. Indeed, French law says that the language of the entire republic is French. Yet you come across to the Breton language in Brittany. For example, the signposts and place names are indicated in both French and Breton. A few Breton words:

Breton English
Ty House
Ker Houses
Mor Sea
Penn Cape
Menez Hill
Traon Valley
Da bep lec'h Through traffic
Kenavo See you
Degemer mad Welcome