The quaintest legacy of commerce
Locronan wows all judges, elected both a Breton Petite Cité de Caractère and one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. Its beauty stems from the success of local weavers and merchants, who supplied fine sails not just to the French navy, but also to English and Spanish clients. Locronan’s grandest houses, with their remarkable dormer windows, are mainly 18th century. As sails died out, trade dried up, and Locronan stayed pickled in the past. The village museum covers the weavers, and the area, in paintings. Filmmakers have frequently shown Locronan’s charms on the silver screen, and tourists flock here in large numbers, hence all the tempting boutiques. Walk up the nearby summit for calm but dramatic views to the Bay of Douarnenez.
The story goes that Ronan, having successfully spread the Christian word in western Brittany, retired quietly to Locronan. However, a troubled local woman, Kében, perhaps enraged at her husband’s new-found Christian devotion, falsely accused Ronan of devouring her daughter. He was imprisoned, but good sense prevailed. Ronan found the girl suffocated in a chest and revived her. His legendary powers fêted, Ronan came to be associated with fecundity. On the back of his potent story, the very dukes of Brittany donated generously for the building of the sumptuous Gothic church that dominates the village. It contains a polished medieval image of Ronan.
The Locronan pardons, or pilgrimages, count among the most important in Brittany. They even have their own name, Troménie. Every 6 years, the Grande Troménie follows the course of a Celtic nemeton, a sacred path around Locronan’s hillside, reflecting the Celtic calendar and gods. Some may spot a large, phallic Neolithic stone close to the route!