Bretagne is one of the 26 regions of France and it occupies a
large peninsula in the northwest of the country. It lies between the English Channel
to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south.
The region of Bretagne is made up of 80% of the former duchy and province of Brittany and
includes its well known capital city of Rennes. The remaining 20% of Brittany is the
Loire-Atlantique department, which lies inside the Pays-de-la-Loire
region, and its capital is Nantes, which was the historical capital of the duchy of
Although Nantes had been the main capital of the duchy of Brittany until the 16th century,
Rennes had been the seat of the supreme court of justice of Brittany between 1560 and 1789
and therefore part of the reason why Brittany was split between these two modern day
regions was to avoid the ongoing rivalry between Rennes and Nantes.
When the French regions were created, it was decided when the majority of France was under
Nazi German occupation and the remainder under the puppet Vichy regime in 1941, to create
a region of Bretagne with Rennes as its capital, and another region created specifically
for Nantes, which was called Pays-de-la-Loire. Pays-de-la-Loire is made up of a part
of Brittany, but also several other historical provinces.
There are two regional languages which are recognised by the region - Breton, a Celtic
language that is spoken in the western part of Brittany and Gallo that is in the process
of being revived in the parts of Brittany that never spoke Breton.
The region is divided into five departments. To the west is Finistere and to the
north is Côtes-d'Armor. Morbihan lies in the middle, Ille-et-Vilaine is in the
north-east and Loire-Atlantique is to the south-east.
Approximately 72 percent of residents live in the Bretagne region, whilst the other 28
percent of people live in the Pays-de-la-Loire region.