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A small bit of history

The farm of Lande Vallée Bihan was built at the beginning of the 20th century. But the place name goes back to the 15th century, and there are different spellings in the archives, depending on the era : Lan-Vallée en Pont l'Abbé, Landevallay Lande-Vallay in 1494. Lande-Vallée is the most recent spelling.


The first word is probably a distortion of -lam or -lan (pronounced lan-n in Breton). It is perhaps the equivalent of the Welsh Llan: church (in the sense of monastery), of Cornish (the Celtic language spoken in Cornwall) -lan: monk's cell, or simply land reserved for ... from the old Breton -lann: hermitage.

The vast majority of names ending in -lan are mere locales which include no religious structure. But the locale could be a dependency of a monastery and placed under the protection of a Breton saint. It is also possibly borrowed from the French lande, which itself is borrowed from the Germanic -land. Lande Vallée therefore possibly takes its name from an old and vast moor.

The second word may come from an ancient name -Tévalay or -Tobalay, a form of -Balay, the eponymous saint of -Lanvalay. Joseph Loth, French linguist and historian who is particularly interested in Celtic languages, including Breton, identifies it with -Bachla, or even –Bachlai, or Llandzfalle in Breconshire, Wales.

The third word, bihan, simply means small: in fact just several hundred meters away is the large farm of Lande Vallée, an older property that belonged to the famous doctor Laënnec at the time of the French revolution, as did the neighboring lands (see map below).


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