The Emperor's desire to acknowledge Brittany
Napoleon 1st was attracted by Pontivy's revolutionary spirit as well as recognising the prominent strategic position of the area. The two main waterways, the rivers Blavet and Oust, opened the way to transport for both men and goods towards Nantes, Brest and Lorient and laid the foundations of Breton imperial history.
One man's project and a century of history
At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon had plans for the Pontivy area on a grand scale. The order was given to channel the waterways into a canal and build military bases, administrative and legal services worthy of a large urban site in Pontivy. The work began but the empire collapsed. The final phase was presided over at the end of the century by Napoleon 3rd, with the arrival of the railway and the construction of the church of Saint Joseph.
In the middle of the checkerboard pattern streets, you find the main square, the courthouse, the Town Hall and Préfecture and the church of Saint Joseph, all symbols of Napoleonic power.
As you cross the town, you will notice its military legacy with its imposing buildings and impressive Napoleonic architecture.
There's a concept, an imprint and a clear visual identity on all those European towns and cities which share the most beautiful pages of history of the epic Napoleonic period.Pontivy is an integral part of this legacy, like Ajaccio in Corsica, the birthplace of the Emperor or Waterloo, where he fought his most emblematic battle.