Places of Interest:
The pretty town of Bourbriac is situated at the northern edge of Central Brittany. In previous times it was a prosperous market town, serving a large rural population with a variety of shops and crafts. Now, most of the trade has passed to Guingamp, 10km to the north, but the town is still at the centre of a vibrant rural community. There are many properties standing empty, both in the town and in the surrounding countryside, suitable for business or accommodation. It is one of the most easily-accessible parts of Central Brittany, just a few minutes from thmain N12 which links Rennes to Brest.
The Menhir Crec'h an Argant (menhir of the silver hill) is close by to several other standing stones, centering aroung Cosquer-Jehan.
The area around Bourbriac is particularly rich in remains from pre-history. There is a very striking menhir near Kerivoa (Menhir Crec'h an Argant), on the high ground to the south of the town and a famous tumulus at Tanouedou, to the South-east of the town. No-one really knows how old any of these ancient features are - megaliths such as this menhir may have been erected over 7000 years ago, whilst most people would date the tumulus to be of Bronze Age, pre-Roman origin - perhaps two or three thousand years old. A large amount of pre-Roman treasure has been found in and around the Bourbriac area over the years, but little of it remains in the town. Most of it has found its way into museums in larger cities.
The Dolmen of Kerivoa overlooks to D69 from St-Norgant to Bourbriac.
The modern history of Bourbriac dates back to the early 600s, when an Irish monk, Saint Briac, established a monastery in the town. He was a friend and companion of Saint Tugdual - one of the seven founding saints of Brittany, who established the town of Treguier, twenty-five miles to the north. Briac was granted the land in and around the current town to establish his retreat by King Deroch of Domnonee. The community that he established continued to flourish until the late 800s when the monastery of Bourbriac was sacked by raiding Normans.
A town grew up on the site of the monastery, and throughout the Middle Ages the area was governed from a castle, Koz-Kastell, the remains of which are on private property close to the town.
Religious buildings of varying antiquity survive in the commune, the most famous of which is the Chapel of Danouet, which dates back to the 1300s, and which has recently been renovated by volunteers who raised money for the project by organising an annual festival celebrating the local dance - the Plinn. There is also a well in the town - Feunten Sant on rue d'Avangour - which was built in the 1600s, but is almost definitely on the site of Briac's original well.
Brittany's longest river, the Blavet, rises in the commune of Bourbriac, in a field close to the hamlet of Leindevet.
The commune of Bourbriac is one of the largest in the Cotes d'Armor, almost 28 square miles, and occupies one of the highest parts of the department - 312m above sea level at one point, although the town itself is around 200m above sea level. Many of the tributaries of the Trieux rise in the commune, as does one of Brittany's largest rivers, the Blavet, which rises in the south of the commune and flows down to Lorient. The river Leguer rises nearby, and flows north into the sea near Lorient.
Although there is no history of political agitation in the town, it has been caught up in most of the upheavals that have affected life in Brittany over the past few hundred years - it suffered during the Breton wars of succession, was sacked during the religious wars, and suffered at the hands of both revolutionaries and Chouans during the Revolution. In spite of this, the town, and the surrounding region continued to grow and prosper up until the late 1800s. In the 1879 census the population of the town was recorded to be 4509 people (compared to about half that today). Bourbriac lost an undue number of young men in the 1914-18 war (237 recorded as dead or missing in official records) and was occupied by German forces during the 1939-45 war, and found itself in the middle of an area controlled by the Resistance as the war in France came to a close in the summer of 1944.
Dr Edmond Rébillé was born in Bourbriac. Heis famous for his 22 books based on his 35 years of experience of being a country doctor in Central Brittany. For a narrative of his experiences during the war and the events that led him study medicine, click here.
The twentieth century history of Bourbriac has been overshadowed, however, by the emigration of the young people to towns such as Rennes and Paris, and the transformation of the local farming from small-scale self-sufficient units into large-scale, unsustainable units, not suited to local conditions.
The Plinn is a traditional dance from Central Brittany, thought to have evolved as a way to beat the earth before threshing. An annual fesival takes place to celebrate this dance at the picturesque Danouet chapel, just south of Bourbriac.