Melesse, Brittany, France
This summer, we’ve taken you on a grand journey around the world to visit five of the nine countries where a few of our 2019-20 shows originated. However, like every good trip, it’s coming to an end! Our final stop is Melesse, France—the home of Não Não’s Le Vent des Forges. This small town with a population of over 6,000, is located in the Northwest region of France called Brittany, also known as Bretagne.
This is Le Vent des Forges’ first time at the New Victory. Meet their creative team—Odette Simonneau, Christine Defay, Odile L’hermitte and Marie Tuffin—in the Explore Video below. Then, learn more about Melesse and the region of Brittany!
Did you Know
Does Brittany sound like it belongs in another country? The name for this region is derived from the Celtic Britons who, from the fifth to sixth centuries, came south across the English Channel to flee from the Anglo-Saxons who were invading what is now known as Great Britain. Because of this ancient influx of Britons, now known as Bretons, Brittany has its own languages and Celtic cultural traditions that set it apart from the rest of France.
While the official language of France is (you guessed it) French, two other languages are also spoken in Brittany—Gallo and Breton. These regional minority languages are not common, but there have been recent efforts to keep them alive.
Gallo is a Romance language that evolved from Latin and is one of the langues d’oïl, or a close relative to standard French. French long ago replaced Gallo as the official language of records and courts, but older generations still speak the language in rural towns. Gallo language speakers founded l’Association des Amis du Parler Gallo in 1976, later changing the name to Bertègn Galèzz. This organization’s main goal is to promote the language and campaign for official government recognition.
Unlike Gallo, Breton is closely related to Celtic languages, having been brought over by the aforementioned migrating Britons. Breton is classified as “severely endangered” by the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger after the number of speakers declined from more than 1,000,000 in 1950 to about 200,000 in the early 21st century. However, Breton has recently had a resurgence. The number of kids attending classes to learn this language rose by 33% between 2006 and 2012.
- Listen to the Breton language and try out the following phrases:
What to See
While there aren’t many attractions in the small, residential town of Melesse, explore the following places in the surrounding region of Brittany!
How to Travel
It will take Le Vent des Forges a little more than 11 hours to reach the New Victory! They will most likely take the N136, D82 or D288 highway for four hours to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and fly direct to New York City for seven hours. The Saint-Jacques Airport in Rennes is only 6 kilometers, or 3.7 miles, away from Melesse, but it would take about 15 hours to fly to New York from that airport!
How to Chow
Take a bite out of Brittany with these local delicacies!
- A “smooth, fatty and intensely flavored” dip that takes some patience—the pork shoulder must cook down for nearly three hours.
- It’s usually spread on bread or toast and served at room temperature.
- This can also be made from goose, duck, chicken, rabbit and sometimes with fish such as anchovies, tuna or salmon.
- Far Breton
- “Far” is the Breton word for flan.
- What Americans think of as flan from Latin America more closely resembles the French crème renversée or crème caramel. Flan in French pastry shops are actually dense custard-filled tarts.
- Prunes soaked in Armagnac are added to this popular afternoon snack!
- Kouign-amann is a Breton cake, described in The New York Times as “the fattiest pastry in all of Europe.”
- The name comes from the Breton words for cake (kouign) and butter (amann).
- Originally made with bread dough (nowadays some use viennoiserie dough), the layers of dough alternate with layers of butter and sugar.
- It is reminiscent of a muffin-shaped, caramelized croissant.
- Crêpe Bretonne
- This traditional dish from Lower Brittany is eaten plain or filled with salty or sweet ingredients.
- According to legend, the Crêpe Bretonne was invented when a farmer’s wife spilled buckwheat porridge onto a very hot stone lying by the fire.
- Gateau Breton
- Similar to a giant soft shortbread, this classic French cake has a hidden layer of prune filling inside.
- Other dried fruits, such as apricots, work well as the inner layers too.
- Sometimes bakers even sandwich melting chocolate or caramel between the layers!
What to Jam To
Check out this YouTube playlist, chock full of contemporary pop hits and classics!
In Your Own Backyard
If you don’t have a trip to Brittany planned in the near future, check out these New York City sites and events to get your French fix!
Or, dig in at these local French restaurants!
- Le District
- Le French Diner
- Maison Kayser
- Les Enfants de Boheme
- Pates et Traditions
- Le Rivage
- Almondine Bakery
Now that you know more about the region of Brittany, join us for Le Vent des Forges’ Não Não this season!