Friday, 18 April 2014

Nantes in Brittany (or not)

The Five Departments of Brittany
Brittany is made up of 4 Départements: Côtes D'Armor (22), Finistère (29), Ille-et-Vilaine (35) and Morbihan (56). Nantes and Loire-Atlantique (44) are not in Brittany and have not been since the reorganization in 1789, even though the (Breton) ermine canton clearly appears on the Nantes flag.Nantes was also one of the historic capitals of Brittany along with Rennes, and from the 13th century most of the Dukes and Duchesses of Brittany were buried here.
Flag of Nant
Nantes (Naoned in Breton) could easily come from the Breton root: ant/nant, ‘valley’, ‘brook’ [Welsh/Old Cornish: nant as in: Nant-y-Moel, Nant-Glas (Wales); Nance, Nancledra (Cornwall)]. It doesn't.
The name come from that of a pre-Breton Gaulish/Celtic tribe who occupied the south-eastern corner of Brittany (see C is for Corseul) up to Roman times.
City of Nantes
 Nantes sits on a river delta (the Loire, Erdre and Sèvre) and this has earhed it the nickname 'Venice of the West' although I think 'Paris  of the West' might be a better name.

The separation of Loire-Atlantique from the rest of Brittany is controversial; clearly it shares culture, geography, history and language with the other four Départements. Even the Breton language has a presence on road signs, in a few primary schools and among a hard core of speakers in the capital.

A reunification would also have popular support, polls suggest that 60-70% of people in Département 44 would favour becoming part of Brittany (again).

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