Locronan

Locronan, in the department of Finistere, is listed as one of les plus beaux villages de France, and has been used as a set for several films, including Roman Polanski's "Tess", and more recently in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "A very long engagement".

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The village was named after St Ronan, a 5th century Irish bishop, who brought Christianity to the area. Cleverly, St Ronan didn't abolish the old Druidic festivals; instead he Christianised them, and so many of them continue to this day:

  • The pardon of the Grande Troménie, in which every six years several thousand pilgrims and tourists follow a processional route of 12 kilometres through the fields around the village.
  • The Petite Troménie takes place every year, on the second Sunday of July, with the relics of the saint being carried around a 4 kilometre route which St Ronan is reputed to have walked early every morning
  • The planting on the main village square of a beech tree, tree sacred to the Ancient Gauls, during the first few days of May. The tree is burned at the end of June for the fete of St Jean, signalling the start of a festival of music and dancing
  • On the Sunday following the 1st of November each year, in memory of the dead, the Celtic ritual of distribution of blessed bread to every house continues

In memoriam of St Ronan, the church - also named after him, has a magnificent carved pulpit decorated with scenes from his life.

Locronan is not just a religious site, however. In the 17th century, the village was known for its production of canvas for sailing ships, and not only the French navy, but also the Spanish Armada - and the British and Dutch fleets - hoisted sails made in the village. Of course with the demise of the sailing ship, this industry died too, although there are still one or two weaver's workshops still in production in the village.

There are other craft and art workshops in and around the village, nowadays, and the nocturnal open-air markets held four times a year, during the summer, give artisans and local farmers alike the ability to sell their produce in a wonderful setting.




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