February 27th 1823. Ernest Renan was born in Tréguier

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The house - ©Moreau.henri / CC-BY-SA The house - ©Moreau.henri / CC-BY-SA
Ernest Renan's native house House Ernest Renan

Renan, Breton of Tréguier

Brittany, a mother and a sister

Renan, the philosopher, the writer and the historian... was born in Brittany! He was born here on February 27th 1823, in this house transformed into a museum.

His father died when he was a kid. He grew with his pious mother and his sister Henriette, a very clever girl, Renan’s soulmate.

He left Brittany to go to Paris, in 1845, where he stayed for 40 years. He wanted to become a priest in Tréguier, but things changed... He wanted to learn, above all, learn, write! Apply the religion? No! He wanted to study it, to dissect it as a science!

Click in Paris

He had to say goodbye to his mother and his beloved sister and entered in Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet’s seminary school in Paris. There, he had a kind of click. He studied literature. As he was a very good student, he went to Saint-Sulpice school to study the Bible. Renan could make researches on religions philosophy, Western and Eastern philosophies...

And finally, at 39 years old, he held his own chair in the Collège de France. The ultimate consecration? Maybe... He published his Vie de Jésus (Jesus’ Life) in 1863: a real bombshell, a scandal! He wrote "Jesus, this incomparable man"...


Aaah, you miscreant! yelled the right-thinking. They hated him, but in the same time this hatred assured his celebrity! Of course, Renan never forget his fatherland: he wrote about Brittany Souvenirs d’enfance, L’âme Bretonne and La poésie des races Celtiques.

Renan told about his own death: Ah, si elle pouvait être au milieu du cloître (de la cathédrale de Tréguier, ndlr)! Mais le cloître c'est encore l'Eglise, et l'Eglise, bien à tort, ne veut pas de moi, which means "Ah, I wish I could die in Tréguier cathedral's cloister. But the cloister is the Church itself, and the Church, wrongly, don’t want someone like me."

Even after his death, Renan still bothered! Right-thinking will never leave him alone: do you know the story of the protest calvary?

The museum

Renan lived in this house until he was 15 years old. Nowadays, it’s a museum. Come on, let’s visit it! Outside, the house has a nice little half-timbered façade. Overlooking the courtyard, an austere granite façade.

Inside, we can discover the rooms where Renan spent his childhood: his bedroom with his little wooden desk and his bed; his study and his library (the exact copy of the one he had in the Collège de France, Paris).

And also!