"Pontivy-Napoléonville? So why this imperial name for this town in Central Brittany? Napoleon Ier lived in the town in the 19th century?e century? Let's go back in time together to discover the history of this city with two faces.

Yohann Hamonic

Pontivy Napoléonville

A city criss-crossed by rivers, major thoroughfares and administrative buildings.

In 1806, Napoleon Ier launches the construction of the Nantes to Brest Canal. The canal runs through the centre of Brittany, and Pontivy is at the heart of the project, equidistant from Nantes and Brest. The Nantes-Brest canal became navigable in 1842, 36 years after work began!

Pontivy was not chosen at random to bear the Emperor's name. Not only was Pontivy ideally situated with its water, it was also a revolutionary town, which pleased the Emperor.

Yohann Hamonic

Napoleon sought to establish a new town in his own name, renamed "Napoleonville" in 1802.

The urban plan for this new town allowed the city to expand, without altering the medieval part. The hygienist movement that was fashionable at the time was applied to this part of the city: wide boulevards, a grid of streets and housing with plenty of space.

Napoleon Ier never had the opportunity to visit Pontivy and therefore did not see the completion of this new town project. Napoleon III, on the other hand, made a brief visit in 1858 and was asked by the locals to finance the Saint-Joseph Imperial Church, built in his effigy and that of his wife, Eugénie. Pass through the Square Lenglier, home to this unusual church, which was never completed.

Yohann Hamonic

The Imperial Church of St Joseph

This church was built under Napoleon 3 in the 1860s. Its stained glass windows date from the 1990s.

During the 19e In the 19th century, Pontivy changed its name several times. Its name changed with the rise and fall of the Empire. It was not until 1870 that Pontivy finally kept this name.
Do you know the second French city built under Napoleon Ier ? It's La Roche-sur-Yon, formerly known as "Napoléon Vendée"! There are some striking similarities between these two towns.

To find out more about this part of the history of Pontivy, the town of two eras, take part in the guided tour. Historic town centre.

Are you interested in this historic district and want to find out more about the town? The Napoleonic section is bordered by a medieval quarter.

Yohann Hamonic

A little tip

To find your way around the city, look at the colour of the signs:

  • red medieval quarter
  • green Napoleonic quarter

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