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Roscoff (Municipality, Finistère, France)


Last modified: 2021-12-08 by ivan sache
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Flag of Roscoff - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 7 December 2021

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Presentation of Roscoff

The municipality of Roscoff (in Breton, Rosko; 3,705 inhabitants in 2006; 619 ha) is located on the northern coast of Brittany, a few kilometers north of Saint-Pol-de-Léon.

Roscoff emerged as a small fishers' village known as Rosko Go. The village was suppressed around 800 by the Northmen and, again, in 1374/1387 by the English. Accordingly, the inhabitants rebuilt the village in a safer place, the site of the today's town. The parish church and its surroundings were built in the first quarter of the 16th century on a territory gained from the sea. During her voyage to the court of France in August 1548, where she would marry Dolphin Fran¨ois II, Queen of Scotland Mary Stuart, aged 6, was forced by a storm to land in Roscoff (but some say in Brest).
In 1549, the Parliament of Brittany established Roscoff as an independent parish (that is, a municipality), causing the wrath of the inhabitants of the neighbouring town of Saint-Pol-de-L&ecute;on, who considered Roscoff as their maritime borough. The next year, King of France Henri II allowed the town to set up an harquebushier's company. The inhabitants of Saint-Pol-de-L&ecute;on took their revenge in 1611, obtaining from the States of Brittany the suppression of the representative of Roscoff.
The first port of Roscoff, with a quay of 180 m in length, was built in 1623-1649, funded by a tax on wine and alcohol. In 1715-1743, the port, damaged by a violent storm, was revamped and the length of the quay was increased to 300 m.
In 1789, Roscoff obtained its definitive separation from Saint-Pol-de- L&ecute;on.

The Station Biologique de Roscoff was founded in 1872 by the zoologist Henry de Lacaze Duthiers (1821-1901), considered as the founder of experimental zoology and of marine microzoology; Lacaze-Duthiers studied several lower marine organisms, especially coral (Histoire naturelle du corail, 1863). Yves Delage (1854-1920), Director of the Roscoff Station, studied there sponges (Embryologie et classification des éponges, 1889) and parthenogenesis in sea urchins (La parthénogenèse naturelle et expérimentale, 1913); Delage was also one of the first supporters in France of heredity and evolution theories (Les théories de l'évolution, 1909), while Lacaze had defended the fixist theories. The biologist André Lwoff (1902-1994), Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1965, started his scientific career in 1920-1930 at the Roscoff Station, where he met in 1920 medical doctor Louis-Ferdinand Destouches, better known as the nefarious writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline. The moviemaker and scientist Jean Painlevé (1904-1989) started in the 1950s a fruitful collaboration with biologists at Roscoff, shooting several films on marine organisms. The geneticist Georges Teissier (1900-1972), appointed Director of the Roscoff Station in 1938, founded in 1951 three genetics laboratories in Gif-sur-Yvette (near Paris).

In 1899, Louis Bagot (1862-1941), a physician working in Saint-Pol-de- L&ecute;on and Roscoff, published Étude de climatologie clinique - Roscoff au point de vue médical, a scientific study of the healing potential of the Roscoff microclimate. Convinced of the therapeutic use of sea water and algae, he founded the Roch'Kroum Maritime Institute, where he promoted the use of heated water sea to heal rheumatism. Bagot is considered as the French inventor of thalassotherapy, although the word thalassothérapie was coined in 1865 in Arcachon by La Bonnardière.

Roscoff, part of the Breton fresh vegetable Golden Belt, is one of the French capital of onions; Roscoff pink onions, said to have been imported from Portugal in the 17th century by a capuchin monk, were highlighted by the writer Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) in his Great Dictionary of Cuisine. In 1828, the grower Henri Olliver chartered a sailboat to England and sold onions door-to-door, inaugurating a specific trade still vivid today, although probably for not too long.
The onion peddlers who travelled all over Britain, often very young boys (9-10 years), were friendly nicknamed "Johnnies", a nickname they translated into Breton as Ar Johnniged. In the 1920s, the Johnnies used bicycles, carrying up to 150 kg of onions, subsequently replaced by lorries. During the Gilded Age of the Johnnies (1920-1930), some 1,400 Johnnies sold every year 9,000 tons of onions. After the Second World War, the British authorities limited onion imports and required the Johnnies to form a syndicate. Still 160 in 1972, the Johnnies are today no more than 20.

The demi-mondaine Liane de Pougy (born Anne-Marie Chassaigne; 1869-1950), often considered as the most beautiful woman of the time, purchased in 1903 a house in Roscoff. Renamed Clos Marie, the house welcomed a brilliant society, with familiars such as the poet Max Jacob and the musician Reynaldo Hahn. Liane de Pougy subsequently married Romanian prince Georges Ghyka; the Prince and the "princess" often stayed in Roscoff. Liane de Pougy left Roscoff in 1926 and took the coat in 1946 after the death of her husband, as Sister Anne-Marie-Madeleine de la Pénitence.
[Roscoff Quotidien]

Ivan Sache, 18 June 2012

Flag of Roscoff

The flag of Roscoff (photo) is white with the municipal logo in the center.
The logo of Roscoff is made of a green triangle, surmounted by another white triangle and a blue sail. "ROSCOFF / la mer au futur" (the sea in the future) is written in black letters on the right of the geometric elements.

Ivan Sache & , 7 December 2021

Yacht clubs in Roscoff

Centre Nautique de Roscoff


Burgee of CNR - Image by Ivan Sache, 18 June 2012

Centre Nautique de Roscoff (CNR) is located on the old port of Roscoff. While the club uses a modern logo, a more traditional burgee is painted on the club-house.

The burgee of CNR is red with two blue stripes and a blue triangle charged with a white ermine spot placed along the hoist.

Ivan Sache, 18 June 2012

Rosko Plaisance


Burgee of Rosko Plaisance - Image by Ivan Sache, 18 June 2012

Rosko Plaisance (website), the local association of non-professional fishers and sailors (plaisanciers), founded in 1996, has a membership of c. 120. In March 2005, the association offered the boat Roscoff, equipped with modern fishing tools, to the village of Ahangama, Sri Lanka, which had been severely hit by the 2004 tsunami, allowing three villagers to found the Roscoff fishing company.

The burgee of Rosko Plaisance, as hoisted, on an oar, over the association's club house, located on the Roscoff old port, is white with a blue border and the association's emblem in the middle.
The emblem of Rosko Plaisance is made of a green ring surrounding a red stirring wheel and the Roscoff lighthouse.
The access to the old port of Roscoff requires crossing the dangerous Tousquelen pass. In 1880, a "fire" was built at the end of the old quay, supplemented in 1884 by another "fire" placed on land on the roof of a metallic hut. The Lighthouses and Beacons' administration decided to build a more powerful lighthouse on the port, which was made in 1914-1917. Electrified in 1934, the Roscoff lighthouse is 24 m in height (95 steps) and 15 miles in range.

Ivan Sache, 18 June 2012