Formalization of the Rohan bridge classification in Landerneau
The bridge of Rohan in Landerneau (Finistère) from the Middle Ages. In its current state, it takes the form of a 70 meter long “street bridge”, surrounded by houses that are still occupied by many businesses and residences. At the bottom of the estuary, it is perfectly inserted into an urban landscape that evolves with the tides. Along with the Pont des Marchands in Narbonne (Aude), it is the most emblematic inhabited bridge architecture still visible and accessible in France. Elsewhere in Europe, the number of bridges built or inhabited can be counted on the fingers of one hand: the famous Ponte Vecchio in Florence is the best known of those still in existence.
Rohan bridge on the sea side photo before 1894 ©Ministry of Culture Media library of heritage
On the origins
The city of Landerneau, whose growth owes much to its excellent geographical location, is crossed by the Elorn. A simple bridge, probably made of wood, crossed the river in the early days of the city’s founding. The site, on the border of the Elorn tide that flows into the port of Brest, must have been a crossing point since Antiquity. It is necessary to wait until 1336 and the act of foundation of a hospital dedicated to Saint George, located “at the head of the bridge”, to find the existence of a built work. In the year 1510, the bridge was rebuilt, probably in its entirety, by Jean II (1452-1516), viscount of Rohan, lord of Léon and count of Porhoët, who added a mill and perhaps a prison.
Rohan bridge on the river side © DRAC Brittany
Symbol and witness to the prosperity of the Léon canvas trade
For three centuries following its construction, the city and the bridge became an important node for the trade of the famous canvas produced in the countryside of Leon, which was exported to the ports of England, Spain, Flanders and the Netherlands, and even the Baltic. The prosperity of this golden age can be guessed at the beautiful stone mansions built near the docks by Landern merchants. Beyond the city limits, this prosperity also made it possible to build parish churches as close as possible to the areas of canvas production. Until now, despite the changing weather, four fires, the strength of the tide and the flooding of Elorn, part of the bridge structure from the beginning of the 16e century and all buildings built in the 17the and 19e centuries are still visible. A still inhabited shopping street still crosses Elorn. The bridge came alive to come down to us with changes in the load-bearing elements. Some recent structures have been added here.
The complete classification of the building according to Ministry of Culture (
Brittany), by promoting the repair of the last damage of the summer of 2021, it will also make it possible to better recognize, introduce and promote the building.
A necessary diagnosis and a useful full classification
Acting following the collapse of part of the work in the residential area in August 2021, the Ginger CEBTP company intervened in December 2021, January, February and summer 2022 to make a diagnosis. Its mission consists of an inspection of the entire structure to try to identify cracks, cavities, degraded materials. The process was carried out from the river bed according to the access allowed by the water level. It is carried out by eye, but also uses a georadar that makes it possible to examine structures at a depth of 2-3 m to determine the presence of voids.
The classification of the bridge as a historical monument, effective by decree of November 28, 2022, reinforces the protection of the building registered since 2010. Only one of the bridge houses has been classified so far. This enhanced protection will facilitate the mobilization of funding for the activities required for its consolidation and maintenance. On January 25, 2023, representatives of the City of Landerneau and the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC Bretagne) met at the site to formalize this classification.
To find out more:
The port of Landerneau and the bridge of Rohan: centers of the linen trade of Léon
Full sorting order for the bridge of Rohan
City of Landerneau press release