Come and explore Pontivy on the banks of the River Blavet at the heart of Brittany. Between the 14th and 17th centuries this pretty town was the stronghold of the famous Breton Rohan family who built the impressive medieval castle, currently undergoing restoration, which still keeps watch over the historic centre of the town.
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When Pontivy was called Napoléonville
Enjoy a stroll through the narrow winding streets around the Place du Martray at the foot of the two pepper-pot towers where half-timbered houses and medieval facades recall the town’s heyday and wealth from the leather and canvas trade.
The Emperor Napoleon I had great plans for several towns including La Roche-sur-Yon and… Pontivy ! So after walking around the medieval town you come to the wide, straight avenues and attractive neo-classical facades of the Napoleonic era. These two aspects give Pontivy its very special character. The town is also the meeting point of the River Blavet and the Nantes-Brest Canal. Connecting Nantes and Brest overland had long been imagined then forgotten throughout history, but once again it was Napoleon who became convinced at the turn of the 19th century of the strategic interest of freeing Brest via the interior of the country, during the British blockade of the port. The gigantic project lasted 40 years. No less than 54 locks over 20km were constructed between Rohan and Pontivy and completed in 1838. The Hilvern stretch connecting the Oust and Blavet Valleys has only a very short distance between the locks at Etangs du Roz.
Journey back to the year 1000 !
Chapelles du Blavet
The River Blavet rises in Côtes d’Armor, crosses the Pontivy area from north to south then flows into the sea at Lorient. The valley is a convoluted landscape of moorland and woodland with numerous chapels and holy wells nestling along the banks of the river. They are all well worth visiting as their interiors are splendidly decorated, but the unusual hermitage chapel of Saint Gildas tucked away under a huge rocky outcrop is particularly attractive. Legend has it that Saint Gildas and Saint Bieuzy settled in this natural cave during the 6th century. The first chapel was built in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1837. Gite and B&B owners in the area know all of these little gems and can recommend little secret places not to be missed. Every summer, the chapels are the venue for a festival of contemporary art : Art dans les Chapelles brings together works of contemporary artists in the setting of beautiful heritage buildings. Round off your tour at Le Faouët, not far from Pontivy, where other gems of religious architecture await you.
How to get to Pontivy
You can, of course, go along the Nantes-Brest Canal and visit Brittany from the water. By road Pontivy is 1 hour 20 minutes from Rennes along the N164 to Loudéac. There is also a bus service."