Châteauneuf-du-Faou on the Aulne and Canal de Nantes à Brest
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Christian Ménard|
|• Land1||42.58 km2 (16.44 sq mi)|
|• Population2 density||87/km2 (220/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||29027 / 29520|
|Elevation||31–153 m (102–502 ft)|
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Châteauneuf-du-Faou is located in the middle of Brittany, between Monts d'Arrée and Montagne Noire. The town is built on a hill overlooking the Canal de Nantes à Brest, which is the canalized river Aulne. The bridge over this waterway was built in 1638, when Louis XIII was king of France, and is known as the "Old King's Bridge".
The inhabitants of Châteauneuf-du-Faou are known in French as Châteauneuviens.
The Breton language
There is strong evidence that people have lived in this area for thousands of years. A large number of tumuli discovered near the sides of the road from Châteaulin to Carhaix testify to the density of the prehistoric population. Burial sites from the Bronze and Iron Ages have also been found.
During its history Châteauneuf-du-Faou was given different names in Latin and French:
- "Castellum novum" in the 12th century
- "Castrum novum" in 1217
- "Castrum novum in fago" between 1330 and 1368
- Châteauneuf-du-Faou in 1391. This is Châteauneuf-du-Faou or “Kastell-Nevez-ar-Faou” in the Breton language It translates to "the New Castle in the Country."
Castrum Novum, a new fortress, was built by the lords of Faou. They belonged to a branch of the house of Léon. The fortress was seized in 1186 by Guihomarch and Hervé de Léon, and subsequently belonged to the Viscounts of Léon until it was confiscated by John VI, Duke of Brittany, in 1420. The castle was slighted in 1440.
The town has experienced some riots and wars during its history. The worst day in its history was on 23 March 1593. The War of Religion which started in 1589 was about to end. Only four months were remaining before Henry IV of France's conversion to Catholicism with his famous “Paris vaut bien une messe ("Paris is well worth a Mass"). On that spring day, in March 1593, Châteauneuf-du-Faou was invaded by hundreds of armed Huguenots. Houses were burnt and the inhabitants were murdered. The story is told that a Huguenot soldier seized a holy ciborium and threw it onto the ground. The priest picked it up and swallowed the Hosts, only to be killed by the soldier. This story is depicted on one of the stained glass windows of the chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Portes.
In 1438 a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was found inside an old tree. Looked on as miraculous, the find was celebrated by the building of the chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Portes, a very popular place for pilgrimage throughout Brittany.
Art and culture
Notre-Dame-des-Portes is closely associated with the famous artist Paul Sérusier, after whom a road in the village is now named. He was a mystic artist and a founder of the group who called themselves Les Nabis, after the Hebrew word for prophets. He lived in Châteauneuf-du-Faou for several years. In 1894 he painted an inspiring picture, The Pardon of Notre-Dame-Des-Portes at Chateauneuf-Du-Faou This painting is now in the Musee des Beaux-Arts at Quimper. Sérusier was born in Paris, but the traditions and culture of Brittany made him say:
|“||I feel more and more attracted by Brittany, my true fatherland, because I was born there in spirit.||”|
The Pardon which is celebrated in Notre-Dame-des-Portes at the end of August is one of the most famous in Brittany.
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- (French) Ofis ar Brezhoneg: Enseignement bilingue
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- Official website (French)
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- Mayors of Finistère Association (French);
Media related to Châteauneuf-du-Faou at Wikimedia Commons