Stage town for the first time

Sub-prefecture of Morbihan (56)

Population: 14,600 (Pontivyens, Pontivyennes), and 46,000 in the 25 communes of Pontivy Communauté.
Personalities: Émile Masson (writer and anarcho-socialist thinker), Ferdinand Le Drogo, Paul Le Drogo, Fernand Picot (cycling), Jean-Yves Lafesse (comedian), Olivier Boivin (1965) (canoeing, Olympic medallist in 1992), David Lappartient (president of the UCI, former president of the UEC and the French Cycling Federation)
Specialities: Potato pancakes, Chistr Per (pear cider)
Sport: GSI and Stade Pontivyen (N3 football), Pontivy Triathlon (D1), CKCP (canoeing), ACRLP (athletics)
Economy: food industry, commerce, administrative centre, etc.
Culture: Contemporary festival "L'art dans les chapelles" (art in the chapels), Bagad "Kerlenn Pondi" and Breton music competition Kan Ar Bolb
Labels: Ville Active et Sportive **, Pays d'art et d'Histoire, Ville Napoléonienne, Ville fleurie ***, Plus beaux détours de France, Ville nature **.

Place du Martray © Emmanuel Berthier
Péniche Duchesse Anne à Pontivy © Emmanuel Berthier
Pontivy Communaute © Menhirs de Manéven
Rue du fil à Pontivy © Emmanuel Berthier
Basilique Notre Dame de Joie © Emmanuel Berthier


An imperial will
Pontivy owes its origin to St Ivy, a Scottish monk who came to evangelise Brittany. According to legend, he had a bridge built over the Blavet river, which gave its name to the town: "Pont-Ivy". Land of the Rohans, Pontivy built its reputation around its 15th century medieval castle. Now owned by the town, this fortress has undergone a major restoration project after the collapse of the southern curtain wall in 2014. Dedicated to Notre Dame de Joie, the 16th century Basilica keeps the memory of the vow made in 1696 to protect the city from a serious epidemic. Pontivy owes its development to the linen trade and the fairs, at the time of the revolution when the town embraced republican ideas. Because of its exceptional geographical position in the heart of Brittany, Napoleon I had a vision for Pontivy: "In peace: the centre of a great trade and in war: an important military centre". He ordered the digging of the Nantes to Brest canal and the construction of all the attributes of power worthy of a large town: a court, a prison, a barracks, a new church, a town hall and a covered market. The town can even boast to be the third largest town in Brittany, after Rennes and Nantes, to have a state secondary school. The Emperor's plans for Pontivy were colossal: Napoleonville was born!

Le château de Pontivy © Creative Commons 3.0/Calips


Castle of the Dukes of Rohan
Built from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 16th century, the castle of Pontivy was the very last fortified castle built in Brittany. It is characteristic of Breton military architecture of the late 15th century. It was built on the initiative of Jean II de Rohan, known as the "Grand Vicomte". As Pontivy became the capital of the Viscounty of Rohan in 1396, Jean II needed a castle worthy of his rank. Following the bad weather of 2014, part of the southern wall of the castle collapsed, weakening the adjoining tower in its fall. Restoration has been undertaken and the town is now working on reopening this emblematic building to the public.

Napoleonic heritage
The result of Napoleon I's desire to make Pontivy a stronghold in the heart of Brittany, the new town built further south is full of imperial architecture. With its chequered streets organised around the imposing Place d'Armes, Pontivy became Napoleonville. The final touch was given by Napoleon III with the construction of the station and the imperial church.

Nantes to Brest Canal
In order to supply the Breton ports blocked by the English navy, Napoleon I decided to create the Nantes-Brest Canal. The 360-kilometre long canal, with 230 locks, was started in 1806 and was not inaugurated until 1858. Ideally located at the junction of the canal and the Blavet and on the route of the "Vélodyssée", Pontivy is an essential stopover for cycling tourists.

La Plage outdoors pool
Located on the banks of the Nantes-Brest canal, the "municipal beach" was built in 1938 to allow Pontivy residents to enjoy swimming. Its Art Deco style is reminiscent of the seaside resorts on the coast that few families could afford to visit at the time. Its 50-metre long pool is now used to host numerous sporting competitions.

Art in the chapels
Every summer since 1992, the "Art in the Chapels" festival has invited national and international artists to showcase their talents in the many chapels of the Pontivy region. By bringing together contemporary art and religious heritage, this festival allows the general public to discover unique creations, while admiring the beauty of these chapels nestled in the countryside.

Jean Robic tour
Born in Radenac, Jean Robic would have been 100 years old on 10 June 2021. A permanent tribute is paid to this great champion, winner of the 1947 Tour de France, thanks to the "Jean Robic" circuit which crosses the 25 communes of the Pontivy Community of communes. Between nature and heritage, this 155-km circuit with a cumulative elevation of 1,650m, is intended for experienced cyclists.

Château des Rohan à Pontivy © CRT Bretagne
L'église impériale St Joseph à Pontivy © Emmanuel Berthier
Le Canal du Blavet à Pontivy © OT Pontivy Communaute
Piscine La Plage Pontivy © Michel Langle
Jean Robic en lors du Tour de France de 1947 © Presse Sports


Even if the Tour de France has never stopped here, Pontivy is a major cycling centre in Brittany as the birthplace of several personalities in this sport in the region, starting with David Lappartient, the current President of the International Cycling Union (UCI). It is also the birthplace of the Le Drogo brothers: Ferdinand, French champion in 1927 and 1928, and Paul, winner of a stage in the 1929 Tour before becoming the sports director for Louison Bobet and the Groussard brothers. Another local cycling figure, Fernand Picot, twice winner of the Grand Prix de Plouay, took part in eight consecutive Tours de France between 1955 and 1962, finishing 13th in 1957. In recent years, Pontivy has been the birthplace of the French road champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot and the young hopeful Marie Le Net, runner-up in the American race. Another native of Pontivy: Bruno Roussel, the former manager of the Festina team.

05/02/2020 – Saudi Tour 2020 – Stage 2 - Sadus Castle - David Lappartient © A.S.O./Kåre Dehlie Thorstad

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