As the world leader nation in culture and art, France attracts millions of tourists and students that travel to France every year to discover its wonders. From an incredible rich cultural heritage, to its fine cuisine, arts, diverse geography, diverse architecture, and more. As an interested student in culture and history, I would love to explore the past of Brittany and the Loire Valleys’ towns and discover what pieces of history characterize each region and makes them unique from the rest. Brittany is located in the northwestern part of France and borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay to the south. Brittany first settlers were the Neanderthals, then the homo sapiens replaced them about 35,000 years ago and proof of it are the Carnac Stones that were erected by the Neoliths.
During that prehistorical period, Celtic tribes inhabited the Armorica peninsula and it came to be known as Brittany. In 56 BC Julius Caesar invaded the region, and it became a province of the expanding Roman Empire called Gallia Lugdunensis. Towns and villages developed with the Roman standard. Likewise, Julio Cesar also conquered the Loire Valley in 52 BC and is located in central France, east of Brittany. Roman expansion of the Lorie Valley was particularly notable during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. Major towns such as Angers, Bourges, Orleans, Chartres, and Tours were developed with the Roman standards. During the Renaissance the Chateaux of the Loire Valley were constructed and became an important architectural legacy in the Lorie Valley. Officially there are about 42 chateaux that strung along the Loire Valley. They represent architectural achievements in France. Brittany and Loire Valley are important places that can offer students important historic pieces and that reveal some aspects of how France has been shaped.
One historic characteristic that distinguish Brittany from the rest of the regions is its strong Celtic background. Celtic Britons migrated from southwest Great Britain to Armorica to avoid the Germanic tribes that were invading Great Britain. They migrated in two waves from the 3rd through the ninth century. Armorica was named by the Romans, but later the with the migration of the Bretons, it was called Brittany. In the 5th and 6th period Welsh monks and Irish monks settle in the north and helped in the evangelization of Christianism. This is because some Celtics’ religion was related to the nature elements and had many gods and goddess. Other Celtics from Welsh were already Since then, Brittany became the most devoutly to Catholicism in France. In the 8th century, Aubert, Bishop of Avranches witness the appearance of the archangel Michael in a dream who instructed him to found Le Mont ST-Michael Abbey. this is located in a small rocky island in a wide bay that stretches from Normandy to Brittany in northwest France. Breton language is still spoken in Brittany. Many Breton festivals revive the Celt traditions in Brittany. Such as The Fest-noz, gavottes, an dro hanter dro and the pinn. During the festival, women use traditional long black dresses and men wear medieval and renaissance clothing with tights and wooden shoes. Traditional Celt food is still served in Brittany are the krampouezh-crepe and a beverage called chouchenn, a Breton type med. The Bretons try to keep their traditions still alive and we can be witnesses of that just by visiting Brittany.
A characteristic that distinguish The Loire Valley are the Chateaux. The Loire Valley has served as favorite destination for the French royalty. It was The Loire Valley were the Royals and nobles left their footprint and legacy with the construction of many beautiful renaissance chateaux. The place is enchanting and the lakes and rivers crossing the city, the sunflower fields and beautiful pristine gardens provides a lush fairy tale illusion. Each chateau in the Loire Valley has its own features and unique story. For instance, Chateau de Chenonceau, also known as “the ladies castle” has its origins in 1512 when Thomas Bohier acquired a small fortress by the River Cher and decided to convert it in a renaissance style chateau. His wife Katherine Briconnet oversaw the construction.
However, they had to hand over the chateau to the monarchy to pay off debts. Subsequently, Henri II gave it to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. She then added to it a bridge over the Cher and beautiful gardens. When Henri died, queen Catherine de Medici forced Diane out and added the Chenonceau a gallery and a grand ballroom over the bridge Diane built. Another important Renaissance chateau in the Loire valley, characterized by its extravagance is the Chateau de Chambord. Started in the 16th century by Francois I who decided to build a hunting lodge. The chateau contains over 400 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases, including the famous double spiral staircase whose construction is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci as he was a guest of Francois I and resided at Close-Luce near the royal residence at Amboise.
Brittany and the Loire Valley are amazing places to explore the French history and culture as they have unique historic characteristics that define them. I believe that visiting Brittany, will help me to understand more about the Celtics and even experience the place in a Celtic way. Similarly, by visiting The Loire Valley and touring the chateaux there, I will have the opportunity to learn about the Royal’s lavish life and history that defines the Renaissance. Aside from learning history and cultural aspects of these regions and taking advantage on being there, I would also like to enjoy the cuisine and wine these regions produce that are also a delicacy I wouldn’t like to miss.
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