France | Brittany


Celebrations are common throughout the year in Brittany. Many are religious, like the Pardon (a type of pilgrimage) and Fête-Dieu(Corpus Christi); others are secular, like the traditional dances known as Fest-Noz. Some, like the troménies(religious processions), have ancient, even pre-Christian, origins.


Troménies, a type of religious procession, are typically held between the Ascension and Pentecost, except in Locronan. Pilgrims follow a specific route around a sacred area of a given size. Troménies are not unlike ‘parish tours’ (pilgrimages to ancient sacred sites in Western Europe), but feature a number of aspects specific to Brittany.

In Locronan, a Petite Troménie is held each year in July, while a Grande Troménie takes place every six years. On the occasion, pilgrims walk around the base of Mount Menez-Hom, stopping at twelve stations, where each parish displays its saints and relics at outdoor altars.


A Pardon is a typically Breton religious ceremony. The faithful gather to beg forgiveness for their sins, obtain a pardon or complete a vow. During a Pardon procession, Bretons in traditional dress march carrying banners and processional crosses. The religious ritual is usually followed by a social event like a carnival or fair. Most pardons are dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

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Corpus Christi in Rennes
Preparations for the feast. Houses destroyed in the war are visible.
France, Brittany, Ille-et-Vilaine, Rennes
Sketch, grease pencil, on Canson paper
Credit: Frédéric Back
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