Stage town for the 2nd time
Sub-prefecture of Ille-et-Vilaine (35)
Population: 9,000 (Redonnais, Redonnaises)
Personalities: Nominoé (1st King of Brittany), Arthur Bernède, Hervé Bazin (writers), Alain Madelin (politician), Chevalier and Laspales (humorists)
Specialities: the chestnut, queen of Redonese gastronomy.
Sport: 3700 sports members in the various clubs in the town (athletics, football, rugby, etc.). Economy: cosmetics, electronics, automotive equipment manufacturers, hospital (800 employees).
Culture: Les Musicales, Confluences d'été (artistic meetings), Foire Teillouse (October, chestnut festival), Festival de la Bogue d'or (October, song)
Motto: Small town, big name
Labels: "Historic Town", "Active and Sporting Town
REDON, A STORY
Around the port...
Redon owes its importance to the development of a once very influential Benedictine abbey: its foundation by Conwoïon and six of his companions dates back to 832, at the crossroads of the two most important rivers in Brittany: the Vilaine and the Oust. These valleys constituted a remarkable strategic position. Nominoë, the Breton leader, relied on the Abbey of Conwoion to consolidate his power. It was in Ballon, a few kilometres from Redon, that he defeated the Franks of Charles the Bald in 845 and gave Brittany its independence, which it retained until 1532.The town prospered thanks to the development of its river and sea port. The Notre-Dame suburb was home to slaughterhouses and tanneries. To the south, the suburb of Saint-Pierre was home to port activities: innkeepers, sailors, riggers, merchants, etc. Shipbuilding developed.
In the 16th century, the Commende regime gradually led to the decline of the abbey and its loss of influence to the benefit of a rich bourgeoisie that now ran the town. From the 17th century onwards, the ships of the Compagnie des Indes sailed up to Redon. Flat-bottomed barges took over from keelboats between Redon and Rennes. In the middle of the 19th century, the opening of the Nantes to Brest canal gave Redon its new architecture and made it the crossroads of the Western waterways, with the boom in the inland waterway industry.
After the business bourgeoisie and the boatmen, a new generation used the waterways: yachtsmen and rowers.
Saint-Sauveur de Redon Abbey
Founded in 832 by Conwoïon, it reached its peak at the end of the 11th century and during the 12th century; it governed 27 priories and twelve parishes throughout Brittany. People come here on pilgrimage. It has a 12th century tower considered to be the most beautiful Romanesque monument in Brittany. The 14th century Gothic tower is now separated from the church following a fire which destroyed part of the nave in 1780. The cloister was built in the 17th century on the remains of the old cloister when Richelieu was abbot of the monastery. Today the abbey is part of a private Catholic high school. Medieval frescoes were uncovered during restoration work in 1950 and the contemporary stained-glass windows are by Gruber.
In the 14th century, the construction of the fortified city walls was undertaken under the aegis of Abbot Jean de Tréal. It includes 3 gates, 3 posterns and 13 towers. The north side of the church transept and the Dukes' chapel can still be seen from these ramparts, and the ramparts above the Quai St Jacques are still standing. Work in the town centre has uncovered other remnants of the ramparts, notably the Notre Dame Gate and traces of the site of the drawbridge opposite the Town Hall.
Convent of the Calvary Women
Founded in 1629 by the Ladies Prioresses and Benedictine nuns of the so-called Calvary of Redon, this convent comprises four buildings enclosing a cloister adjoining the chapel to the north. The cloister gallery communicates directly with the nuns' choir and the chapel. Numerous works were undertaken in the 19th century, starting in 1820, when the Congregation of the Retreat occupied the convent, which had been transformed at the time of the Revolution into barracks, a depot for Spanish prisoners and then a family home.
The port district
In addition to its former abbey, Redon has developed a whole harbour district which forms an island in the town. First there were the quays of the Vilaine. The ocean is 42 km from Redon, as the kingfisher flies. For centuries, ships have sailed up the Vilaine with the rising tide! You can moor at the foot of the shipowners' houses, near the salt storehouses, the Richelieu tower and the Mail castle. Then there was the Nantes-Brest canal and the digging of the wet dock in the 19th century. It is accessible to river boats as well as sailing ships.
Château du Mail and Hôtel de Richelieu
Located in the port district of Redon, which was at its height in the 17th century, the Château du Mail and the Hôtel de Richelieu are among the beautiful residences built by merchants, shipowners, wealthy landlords, magistrates and war commissioners. The Château du Mail has become a home for young workers. Nearby is the Hôtel de Richelieu, flanked by a large, square, corbelled corner turret with carved pediment windows.
REDON AND CYCLING
The first time the Tour de France came through Redon, a town with a rich regional cycling heritage, it was the American Tyler Farrar who won the sprint. For more than half a century, a race listed in the National Elite category, popular with Breton hopefuls, has been held here in the spring. Redon-Redon celebrated its 52nd anniversary in 2011, the year when it became fully open to professionals. In the past, riders as varied as Thierry Marie (2nd in 1984), Alexandre Vinokourov (best climber in 1997), Pavel Tonkov, or more recently, Simon Gerrans, winner of the 2004 edition, revealed themselves here.
The "doyenne" of the Breton classics, which is often held on the same day as Paris-Roubaix, could not be held in 2020 because of the covid-19. It succeeds the defunct Grand Prix de Redon, whose first winner in 1937 was Jean-Marie Goasmat and which crowned Louison Bobet and Rik Van Steenbergen.
The short-lived Critérium de Redon was won in 1980 by a certain Bernard Hinault, who is understood to have advised the town to bid for a stage of the Tour when the Tour de l'Avenir passed through Allaire.
Amongst the riders linked to Redon, we can mention Jacques Renaud, who competed seven professional seasons - notably with Mercier - and took part in the Tour de France four times between 1950 and 1953. A keen cyclist until his death in January 2020 at the age of 96, Jacques Renaud, although born in Paris, was the honorary president of the Redon Olympic Club, the town's main cycling club. Charles Danielou, Louison Bobet's teammate in the Stella Dunlop team in the 1950s and a solid specialist in one-day races, was born in Redon.
The "de Redon" chestnut includes several varieties of chestnuts and marrons selected for their size and good taste. The production area is concentrated in a radius of about thirty kilometres around Redon. These chestnuts can be used as a delicate garnish for poultry or a number of specialities prepared by chefs (poultry terrine with chestnuts) or pastry chefs (shortbread filled with chestnut cream). At home, they are eaten as a soup, or simply boiled and drizzled with ribot milk. But connoisseurs prefer them roasted, with a piece of butter and a bowl of cider!Since the 1980s, the Breton chestnut has been enjoying a revival of interest, under the impetus of a Confrérie du Marron de Redon. The Teillouse fair, brought up to date, ends with a cultural event, the Bogue d'or (singing, music, storytelling). On the last weekend of October, Redon attracts all the producers of the region, who come to sell their harvest, but also the craftsmen who offer their creations around the chestnut.