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Town Trail

13 enamelled signposts are dotted around the town of Saint-Renan and as you explore, you will relive the highlights of its history, from the legend of St. Ronan’s to the memories of the seneschalsy.

Parcours de ville

 
Ronan the Founding Saint
Towards the 11th and 12th centuries, the town of Saint-Renan (Lokournan in Breton) grew at the foot of its castle, Castle Helbig (attested in 1179). It owes its name to Ronan, an Irish hermit, who arrived in Brittany in the late 9th century (if we are to believe the current experts).
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Place du Vieux Marché
This half-timbered house was probably not the only one in the 15th century. Note the unusual “capped” roof and its frieze of grotesques under the first corbelled construction. Particularly eye-catching is the work of the architect of the neighbouring house, who used the yellow stone of Logonna in an area where granite was predominate, as are the sculpted figures of the dormer window.
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At the time of the Seneschal
In 1276, Hervé IV, Viscount of Leon, who was heavily in debt, was forced to sell his last possessions, including Saint-Renan, to the Duke of Brittany. Hervé was made destitute and the duke generously offered him a horse so he could join the crusade.
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The “Grande Cohue”
We do not know when the first covered market halls were built. Over the centuries, tree more were erected. Since 1992, the square has been paved and unassuming, highlighting the old houses that surround it.
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Saint-Renan capital of local justice
Saint-Renan became Senechalsy in 1340. The “feuillée” or court tribunal was the seat of the ducal administration, wich stretched over forty parishes. The expression “It’s in the bag”, comes from this episode. When the trial was over the papers were put away in a bag.
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Notre-Dame-de-Liesse
Notre-Dame chapel depended on “Castel Helbig”. It was the Dukes of Brittany’s chapel when the court of justice resided in town. Later become Notre-Dame-De-Liesse, it became parish church for good, in 1792.
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Curious street name
The well in the “rue Casse La foi”, opposite the church, was originally situated on “Place de la feuillée”. The name “Casse la foi” (literally “breaking faith”) is a mistranslation in French of the Breton “Torefheiz”, wich should have been translated by “Faith slope”.
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When lords were masters of the Wheat markets
Grain measures were used at the covered wheat market. The bushel in Saint-Renan did not have the same capacity as that of Brest, and those of Saint-Mathieu and Lannilis were different again. The complexity of these measures resulted in a lot of injustice.
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Chitchat at the large wash house
This was not the only wash house in Saint-Renan but it was the largest. You can still see the one on Place aux Chevaux (Horse Square) and the Saint-Ronan wash house, Rue du Pont de Bois. All those that were built on the shores of the Aber Ildut, when it passed very close to the town, no longer exist.
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Saint-Renan railway station
The post office was built on the location of the railway station. The railway lines were to be found on what is now Rue du Pont de Bois, and, parallel to these, flowed the Aber-Ildut river.
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Fair and markets
When in 1681, King Louis XIV transferred to Brest the court of justice and the fair and market rights, the latter were continued illegally for eight years, supported by the lord of Curru. They were restored by letters of patent in 1689.
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Pen ar Ru
In 1869, the bishop of Quimper and Leon blesses the Saint-Yves hospice and Chapel. This square owes its name to the Penanru family, owners of the manor near this site.
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The Comiren
The lake “Ty Colo” owes its existence to the tin mines who brought life to the town from 1960 to 1975, and resulted in the title of the “European Tin Capital”.
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Land of LegendsThe Irish hermit Ronan, floating in a stone dugout, landed on the shores of Armorica in around 500 A.D., to found Saint-Renan of the marshes. A few years later, he took to the road again to build Locronan, another medieval town, in south Finistère.
Royal SeneschalsyFormerly Ducal and Royal Seneschalsy, Saint-Renan, last small medieval town at land’s end, has kept its legends from the past and some very beautiful old houses. Saint-Renan was full of life during the period of the Léon Lords (10th c. and 13th c.) and many covered market halls were built to shelter fairs and markets.Saint-Renan became Royal in 1532, when the Duchy of Brittany was brought under the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of France. Louis XIV transferred the court of justice to Brest in 1681.This was the beginning of the emergency of Brest. However, Saint-Renan kept his extraordinary market.

European Capital of PewterIn 1957, the marshland of Saint-Renan revealed an important deposit of pewter ore, mined by the Mining Company of Saint-Renan. After 15 years of mining, the deposit was exhausted. Today, seven lakes and numerous leisure areas are situated on the old mining site.
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