Breizh Poellrezh SF - Douarañ Santel
Breizh Poellrezh SF - Douarañ Santel

Rosko - Roscoff

War ur c’hourenez a bae Montroulez ez eus ur gêr ar gourserien... Ur c’hreiz-kêr istorel eus ar XVIvet kantved, e-touez ar greunvaen hag ar bleunioù. Chomet eo merket ar mein gant an amzerioù gwechall da vare ar varc’hadourien binvidik hag ar Joniged brudet-kaer; met ivez da vare ar varzhed, al livourien hag ar skrivagnerien a zo en em dom met kalzik anezho ouzh kêr Rosko.

E-barzh karter Roskogozh eo e krogas istor Rosko. Ne oa eno er Grennamzer nemet ur rakporzh da Gastell-PaoI. Chomet ez eus choazh ur chalvar eus ar XVvet kantved lec’h ma oa ar gêriadenn. Abalamour ma oa kontraezhet ar porzh ha da-heul meur a dagadenn gant ar Saozon e tivizas tud Rosko en em statiañ pelloc’h war-zu an norzh, lec’h m’emañ ar porzh kozh hiziv an deiz. Eno a voe graet berzh gant Rosko. Adalek ar XVlvet kantved e krogas ar varc’hadourien, ar gabitened hag ar gourserien da bostañ ul Iodenn eus o finvidigezh er mein. Hiziv an deiz e weler c’hoazh an tiez greunvaen-se hag an iliz bet savet war dachennoù douar bet gounezet diwargoust ar mor, e-kichen ar porzh. Diwar neuze en em astennas Rosko muioc’h-mui war-zu ar reter, Mogeriet e voe beg ar Bloskom, e-kichen chapel santez Barba, en XVIIIvet kantved. En eil hanterenn an XXvet kantved e voe savet eno ur porzh dour don ma vez dalc’het an obererezhioü a sell ouzh al listritreizh a ra monedone en daou du eus Mor Breizh, hag ouzh ar pesketaerezh.

Er c’hreiz-kêr istorel e weler splann e teu kement tra vev zo diwar ar mor. Pep tra, eus an iliz dan tiez cheuc’h, eus ar bigi kizellet er maen d’an tourelloù pe d’ar begoù-moger er porzh kozh, a zegas da soñj eus ar pinvidigezhioù deuet diwar ar c’henwerzh dre vor. Santet e vez c’hoazh spered ar gourserien, ar floderien hag ar varc’hadourien en-dro da antreoü ar c’havio oberiet kaer, a weler a-resed ar straedoù pe a-rez an aod. Dre ar mor ur wech ouzhpenn e krogas troioù-kaer ar Joniged a yeas en tu all da Vor Breizh evit gwerzhañ ognon Rosko.
On a peninsula on Morlaix Bay lies a town of granite and floral displays with a privateer past and a historic, 16th-century heart. Its stonework exudes the wealth of rich merchants and famous “Onion Johnnies” and numerous poets, painter and writers on whom Roscoff cast its spell.

The history of Roscoff begins in a quarter known as Roskogoz. In the middle ages, the site was no more than an outer harbour for Saint-Pd-be-Leon. A 15th-century Calvary cross still testifies to the existence of the village. The silting up of the harbour and repeated attacks by the English encouraged the “Roscovites” to move further to the north to the site of the old harbour today. It was here the town rapidly expanded. From the 16th century onwards, merchants, captains and privateers stamped their wealth on the buildings of the town. Their granite houses and the church still stand close to the harbour today, built on land reclaimed from the sea. From then onwards, Roscoff developed more towards the east. The Bloscon headland, close to Sainte-Barbe chapel, was fortified in the 15th century. In the second half of the 20th century, a new deep water harbour was constructed, able to handle the cross-Channel ferry services as well as fishing industry activities.

Everything about the historic heart of the town is a reminder that the sea is the source of life here. From church to ‘wealthy houses and from boats carved in stone to turrets and bastions of the old harbour, ever7hirig evokes wealth linked to maritime trade. The spirit of the privateers, smugglers, and merchants still hovers around the entrances to carved-out cellars opening on to street and shore. It was again the sea that launched the heyday of the “Onion Johnnies” with their first Channel crossing to sell the onions of Roscoff.

This small town on the northern coast of Finistère has a population of approximately 3,500 souls. It is a very popular seaside resort and a centre for thalassotherapy (the treatment of medical conditions using seawater). The first centre of thalassotherapy was the marine institute Roc Kroum. It was here that Louison Bobet, who was having treatment for a sporting accident, got the idea to make this treatment fashionable. It is also a thriving fishing port, specializing in lobsters and spiny lobsters, a centre for pleasure craft. These vessels moor behind the two jetties near the town centre. There is an enormous vegetable market and distribution centre for export of Breton farm products to England.

A pier to the east of Pointe de Bloscon surrounds the deepwater harbour from where the ferries sail to England and Ireland.

A laboratory has been setup, in the town, by the University of Paris and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique to conduct oceanographic studies and biological research.

There is a weekly open-air market every Wednesday.

You will find that the Roscovites have a very good command of English. Something that came about at the beginning of the 20th century, when the people of the Leon region chartered the fishermen’s boats to transport cargoes of onions to England, where the “Onion Johnnies” would sell them door-to-door. In later years, SICA (commercial and agricultural Company) was created to deliver artichokes, cauliflowers and onions directly in England or Ireland via its own maritime company, Brittany Ferries.

A little known fact is that when Mary Queen of Scots came to France in 1548 to marry Francois, son and heir of Henri II, she landed in Roscoff. The young pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, landed at Roscoff in 1746 having been defeated at Culloden.

Places to Visit

The 16th century flamboyant Gothic-style church, Église Notre-Dame-de Croas-Batz, was constructed after the privateers and merchants of the town provided the necessary funding. That is why the outside walls and tower feature guns carved in stone and turned towards the sea. The ships carved on the walls reflect the maritime vocation of the community and its inhabitants. The church has an amazing Renaissance belfry with lantern turrets, one of the most superb examples in Brittany. Inside, on the architectural screen of the altar to the Sacré-Cœur (south aisle), there are four alabaster bas-reliefs that depict the Flagellation, the Crucifixion, the Ascension and Pentecost. The altarpiece of the 17th century high altar has six wreathed columns and is richly decorated with statues of the Evangelists, cherubs and large cats.In the grounds you will find two chapel-ossuaries (ossuaries are bone boxes). An ossuary had to be large enough to contain the femur bones and a typical one measured 2 x 1 x 1.5 ft. [0.6 x 0.3 x 0.5 m.]. Most of them were decorated in some way: geometric, floral, and building patterns. Some were inscribed with the names of the deceased. The one in the southwest corner dates from the 16th century and is dedicated to St.Brigitte; the other dates from the early 17th century and originally did not have a door as it was used only to store boxes.

The Aquarium Charles Pérez, named after its founder, is part of the Biological Station of Roscoff (founded in 1872 per Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers and is now jointly controlled by CNRS and the University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris VI)). It was opened to the public since 1949. Unfortunately this year, 2004, it will not be open to the public as major renovation work is being carried out.

For those of you that are interested in old houses, we would suggest that you visit Place Lacaze-Duthiers and Rue Amirel Révellière. There you will see properties that date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Of note is the elegant façade adorned with ogee arches of the so-called House of Mary Stuart.

If you take Rue Jeanne d’Arc towards Pointe de Bloscon, you will come to Chapelle Ste-Barbe. This tiny chapel is dedicated to St. Barbara and is situated in a delightful garden on top of a small hill. The white walls of the chapel still serve as a landing mark for sailors. The views from the garden include the town, port, Île de Batz and Point de Primel and the Port de Bloscon. We would suggest that the best time to visit the chapel is around the time of high tide as we consider the views to be superior at that time.

If you then go on around the hill, you will come to Viviers, where a footbridge leads you around a large fish farm where lobsters, crayfish and crabs are raised. As there is a change of water with every tide, the shellfish live in conditions that are very similar to their natural habitat.

Just to the south of the ferry terminal are the Exotic Gardens of Roscoff. These amazing gardens, that have over 1000 species of sub-tropical plants, are sheltered by the Rocher de Roch-Hievec (or Rocher de Maison Rouge). Within the garden you will find eucalyptus trees and cacti. We can only describe the garden as a trip to the Southern Hemisphere in Brittany. There is a flight of stairs that leads you onto the headland, where you are vistas of the Bay of Morlaix, Roscoff, Carantec and the Chateau du Taureau.

Île de Batz (pronounced Ba)

This small accessible island that forms part of the Islands of the West, is separated by a 2-kilometre channel from Roscoff. The boat trip from Le Port in Roscoff takes about 15 minutes. This small island 3,5 km in length and 1,5 km wide and offers more than 14 km of coasts bordered of many fine sand beaches. Bathed by a microclimate, Île de Batz is the preserve a very rich flora and a fauna due to its soft and oceanic climate, which profits from the effect of the Gulf Stream. You will not be indifferent to the charm of this wonderful island, worthy of its legendary past. Everywhere you go, agapanthus, sisal plants and palm trees say that you are elsewhere.

Whilst on the island, you should allow time to visit Village Church, the lighthouse on the west side of the island (if you can manage 210 steps up to it and the same back) and Trou de Serpent, where St.Paul the Aureilian, with the help of his stole, cast out the dragon that was terrorising the island.

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