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Bécherel (Municipality, Ille-et-Vilaine, France)


Last modified: 2022-03-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: becherel |
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Flag of Bécherel - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 20 September 2005

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Presentation of Bécherel

The municipality of Bécherel (in Breton, Begerel; 673 inhabitants in 1999) is located 30 km north-west of Rennes.

The village of Bécherel is built on the top of a hill dominating the valley of the Rance. The name of the village seems to come from the Gaulish word bec, "a point", and the Breton suffix erel, "a summit". There was a Roman fortified camp (oppidum) there, replaced in the beginning of the 12th century by a medieval fortress built by Alain de Dinan, who was granted the domain of Bécherel in 1124. In 1168, King of England Henry Plantagenet seized the village and fortified it. The castle was taken over by Duke of Brittany Geoffroy II in 1181/1182, burned down and rebuilt by the lords of Dinan. The English seized Bécherel again in 1350. During the War of Succession of Brittany, Charles de Blois, supported by Constable Bertrand Du Guesclin, besieged in 1363 Bécherel, which was hold by the Montfort party. Du Guesclin attempted again to sieze Bécherel in 1371 in the name of King of France Charles V. The English garrison eventually surrendered on 1 November 1374.
The town walls, already suppressed in the beginning of the 16th century, had nine towers, of which five have survived as well as parts of the rampart and the base of the keep.

Bécherel was very famous in the 16th-18th centuries for its linen and hemp market. The 18th-century castle of Caradeuc, located less than 1 km from Bécherel, is known as the "Breton Versailles". Its park, decorated with monuments and follies, is indeed the largest in Brittany. The most famous member of the Caradeuc family is Louis René de Caradeuc de la Charolais (1701-1785), King's Prosecutor at the Parliament of Brittany. During the Second Empire, the castle of Caradeuc belonged to Count Frédéric de Falloux (1811-1886), Minister of Education in 1818-1849 and author of the Falloux Law (1850), which placed the school teachers under the rule of the religious authorities and favoured the religious institutions.

In 1989, the local cultural association Savenn Douar registered the trademark Cité du Livre (Book City) and attracted several booksellers to replace the abandoned local industries and shops, so that there are today some 25 bookshops and art galleries in the village. Festivals related to literature and publishing are organized every year in Bécherel, for instance the Festival of Latin and Greek, the Poets' Spring and the Book Fair (for Easter).

Ivan Sache, 20 September 2005

Flag of Bécherel

The flag of Bécherel is white with the municipal coat of arms, "Gules a cross moline argent charged with five ermine spots sable", surmounted by a three-towered mural crown.

Hervé Prat, Arnaud Leroy & Ivan Sache, 20 September 2005

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