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🚒 Fire in Dinan – French Story + Translation

Suzanne By Suzanne - updated on Oct 23, 2020
french fire in Dinan Brittany France

Practice your French with this free French story with hide and reveal English translations and discover the lovely medieval city of Dinan, Brittany, France.

1 – A Disastrous Fire in Dinan, Brittany, France

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Dinan, c’est ma ville prĂ©fĂ©rĂ©e en Bretagne : Dinan, que j’ai la chance de visiter trĂšs rĂ©guliĂšrement avec mes Ă©tudiants de français en immersion.

Dinan is my favorite town in Brittany: Dinan, which I am lucky to visit very regularly with my French immersion homestay students.

french fire vocabulary1

Quel choc de dĂ©couvrir un dimanche rĂ©cemment qu’un des bĂątiments phare de la ville avait brĂ»lĂ© pendant la nuit. Il s’agit de la maison de la mĂšre Pourcel, avec un restaurant au rez-de-chaussĂ©e, en plein centre de la ville mĂ©diĂ©vale.

What a shock to discover one Sunday recently that one of the showcase buildings of the town had burned during the night. It’s Mother Pourcel’s house, with a restaurant on the ground floor, right in the center of the medieval town.

2 – Two Months After Notre Dame Fire

C’était seulement deux mois aprĂšs la catastrophe Ă  Notre-Dame de Paris, et ça a fait revivre toutes les Ă©motions de choc et de tristesse qu’on a eues en regardant live Ă  la tĂ©lĂ© l’incendie Ă  Notre-Dame, un trĂ©sor national, mondial mĂȘme, qui est parti en fumĂ©e le lundi 15 avril 2019.

It was only two months after the disaster at Notre-Dame de Paris, and it brought back all the emotions of shock and sadness we had while watching the fire at Notre-Dame live on TV – a national treasure, even a worldwide treasure , which went up in smoke on Monday, April 15, 2019. Click here for my French fire vocabulary list.

4 – Two Year After Another Fire in Dinan

En plus, cet incendie Ă  Dinan est survenu tout juste deux ans aprĂšs un incendie dans une maison de la rue voisine. Regardez cette photo assez rĂ©cente : on voit Ă  gauche le restaurant ‘Chez la mĂšre Pourcel’ dans cette maison emblĂ©matique du 15e siĂšcle peinte en bleu et blanc, sur la place des Merciers
 et on voit aussi Ă  droite l’échafaudage toujours en place pour rĂ©parer et restaurer la maison incendiĂ©e dans une rue voisine en mai 2017.

In addition, this fire in Dinan occurred just two years after a fire in a house on the next street. Look at this fairly recent photo: we see on the left the restaurant ‘Chez la mùre Pourcel’ in this emblematic house of the 15th century painted in blue and white, on the ‘place des Merciers’ (Haberdashers’ Square) 
 and we also see on the right the scaffolding still in place to repair and restore the house burned down on a nearby street in May 2017.

Avec mes d’étudiants, nous passons toujours par lĂ  quand nous visitons Dinan. Souvent, arrivĂ©s sur la belle place des Merciers, je disais Ă  mes Ă©tudiants «Regardez autour de vous : vous pouvez voir la plus vieille maison de Dinan parmi les bĂątiments ici
 C’est une maison Ă  colombages, une maison Ă  pans de bois
 C’est laquelle ? » Et puis les Ă©tudiants regardaient chaque maison pour trouver la rĂ©ponse Ă  ma question.

With my students, we always go there when we visit Dinan. Often, once we’d arrived on the beautiful ‘place des Merciers’, I used to say to my students “Look around you: you can see the oldest house in Dinan among the buildings here 
 It is a half-timbered house, (2 ways of saying this) 
 Which one is it ? And then the students looked at each house to find the answer to my question.

3 – Medieval Houses Are Particularly Sensitive to Fire

La maison de la MĂšre Pourcel, c’était une maison de la fin du Moyen-Âge, construite en 1458, au milieu du 15e siĂšcle. Au dĂ©but, la maison s’appelait ‘HĂŽtel St Michel’, parce qu’il y a une sculpture de l’archange Michel, Ă  genoux, sur un poteau cornier de la maison. Le voici, l’archange Michel, avec mon Ă©tudiant Haskell.

The house of Mother Pourcel was a house of the late Middle Ages, built in 1458, in the middle of the 15th century. At first, the house was called ‘Hotel St Michel’, because there is a sculpture of Archangel Michael, on his knees, on a corner post of the house. Here he is, Archangel Michael, with my student Haskell.

Les vieilles maisons Ă  pans de bois sont toujours vulnĂ©rables Ă  l’incendie, tout comme la cathĂ©drale Notre-Dame l’était en avril 2019, avec de grosses poutres sĂšches, vieilles de plusieurs siĂšcles, et quelquefois de prĂšs de 1000 ans. Non seulement ces vieux bĂątiments brĂ»lent vite, mais aussi l’accĂšs y est souvent trĂšs difficile pour les pompiers qui essaient de maĂźtriser puis d’éteindre le feu. Les petites rues, les ruelles Ă  l’époque mĂ©diĂ©vale Ă©taient trĂšs Ă©troites, et les maisons trĂšs serrĂ©es les unes contre les autres.

Old half-timbered houses are always vulnerable to fire, as was Notre-Dame cathedral in April 2019, with large dry beams, centuries old, and sometimes nearly 1000 years old. Not only do these old buildings burn quickly, but access is often very difficult for firefighters trying to control and extinguish the fire. The small streets, the alleys in medieval times were very narrow, and the houses very tight against each other.

4 – The Loss by Fire of an Emblem

Le lendemain de l’incendie de la maison Pourcel, le maire de Dinan a parlĂ© aux journalistes. «C’est un bĂątiment emblĂ©matique de la ville, l’un des plus anciens situĂ©s au cƓur du centre historique. Malheureusement le feu se rĂ©pand trĂšs vite dans une maison Ă  pans de bois. C’est une perte immense pour le patrimoine et un moment extrĂȘmement douloureux pour les Dinannais» a dit le maire de Dinan, citĂ© dans le journal national le Figaro.

The day after the Pourcel house fire, the mayor of Dinan spoke to reporters. “This is an emblematic building in the city, one of the oldest in the heart of the historic center. Unfortunately the fire spreads very quickly in a half-timbered house. It is an immense loss for the heritage and an extremely painful moment for the people of Dinan ” said the mayor of Dinan, quoted in the national newspaper Le Figaro.

Il a dit, tout comme le prĂ©sident Macron pour Notre Dame, qu’on espĂšre reconstruire la maison Ă  l’identique. On possĂšde une documentation trĂšs prĂ©cise sur ce bĂątiment, qui est classĂ© dans la liste des monuments historiques de France.

He said, just like President Macron for Notre Dame, that they hope to rebuild the house identically. They have very precise documentation about this building, which is classified in the list of French historical monuments.

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5 – Protecting the Town From Fire

La maison appartient à la ville de Dinan. Pendant les années 30, la ville de Dinan a racheté plusieurs de ses maisons remarquables pour pouvoir les protéger.

The house belongs to the city of Dinan. During the 1930s, the city of Dinan bought up several of its remarkable houses to be able to protect them.

Le bùtiment était assuré. Il faut attendre des diagnostics pour décider exactement que faire. La ville de Dinan va pouvoir toucher des subventions pour faire le travail de reconstruction mais elle va aussi lancer un appel aux dons, un appel à la générosité des particuliers. Ecoutez le maire parler ici

The building was insured. It is necessary to wait for diagnoses to decide exactly what to do. The city of Dinan will be able to receive grants to do the work of reconstruction but it will also launch an appeal for donations, an appeal to the generosity of individuals. Listen to the mayor speak here.

6 – French Cities Have Always Been Reshaped by Fire

TrĂšs vite, le lendemain du feu, j’ai trouvĂ© un nouvel article sur internet au sujet des incendies ravageurs passĂ©s Ă  Dinan. Cet article intĂ©ressant signĂ© Romain Daniel du journal rĂ©gional Ouest France en a listĂ© cinq. (les incendies passĂ©s Ă  Dinan)

Very quickly, the day after the fire, I found a new article on the internet about devastating past fires in Dinan. This interesting article signed Romain Daniel of the regional newspaper Ouest France listed five fires.

En 1781, donc quelques annĂ©es avant la RĂ©volution française, c’est tout un quartier du centre-ville qui a disparu dans un grand incendie. Le journaliste a citĂ© un document de l’époque : « Les maisons, trĂšs anciennes, presque toutes bĂąties en bois, se touchant pour ainsi dire par le sommet, faisaient apprĂ©hender la communication des flĂąmes dans les ruĂ«s voisines ». (Notez que l’orthographe de certains mots a changĂ© depuis la fin du 18e siĂšcle : on Ă©crit aujourd’hui ‘des flammes’ et ‘les rues’.)

In 1781, so, a few years before the French Revolution, a whole district of the town center disappeared in a great fire. The journalist cited a document from the time: “The houses, very old, almost all built of wood, touching so to speak at the top, made people worry about the spreading of the flames to the neighboring streets.” (Note that the spelling of some words has changed since the end of the 18th century: today ‘flames’ and ‘ streets’ are written differently.)

En 1907 il y a eu encore un grand incendie, prĂšs des deux places oĂč se trouve le marchĂ© du jeudi matin aujourd’hui. Le journaliste cite un garçon, cette fois : « Le jeune Jean Urvoy, qui deviendra peintre et graveur, raconte ce qu’il a vu et ressenti : « Pour un soir, j’ai Ă©tĂ© enfant du Moyen Âge et, comme mes ancĂȘtres, j’ai connu la peur panique que leur causa l’incendie, oĂč toutes les maisons de bois de la place du Champs-Clos de la rue de la Ferronnerie s’en allĂšrent dans les flammes. » (Notez que Jean Urvoy a utilisĂ© le passĂ© composĂ©, mais aussi le passĂ© simple dans son rĂ©cit.)

In 1907 there was another big fire, near the two squares where the Thursday morning market is today. The journalist quotes a boy, this time: “The young Jean Urvoy, who was to become become a painter and engraver, tells what he saw and felt:” For one evening, I was a child of the Middle Ages and, like my ancestors, I knew the scary fear that the fire caused in them, where all the wooden houses of the Place du Champs-Clos of the Rue de la Ferronnerie went up in flames. (Note that Jean Urvoy used the PassĂ© ComposĂ© ComposĂ©, but also the Past Historic in his story.)

L’Hîtel Beaumanoir

En 1943, pendant l’occupation nazie, il y a eu un incendie dans le bel hĂŽtel Beaumanoir et les maisons et commerces autour. Vous voyez sur la photo que cette belle rĂ©sidence a Ă©tĂ© trĂšs bien reconstruite.

In 1943, during the Nazi occupation, there was a fire in the beautiful Beaumanoir mansion (not hotel) and the houses and businesses around it. You can see in the picture that this lovely residence has been very well rebuilt.

Le 2 aoĂ»t de l’annĂ©e suivante, juste avant la LibĂ©ration de la France, des bombardiers amĂ©ricains sont arrivĂ©s et pendant les quelques jours qui ont suivi, Dinan a reçu ‘une pluie de bombes’. Il y a eu beaucoup de morts, beaucoup de blessĂ©s, et dix-huit incendies parmi les 517 immeubles qui ont Ă©tĂ© frappĂ©s.

On 2 August of the following year, just before the Liberation of France, American bombers arrived and during the next few days, bombs ‘rained down’ on Dinan. There were many deaths, many injuries, and eighteen fires among the 517 buildings that were hit.

Le cinquiĂšme incendie que M. Daniel a mentionnĂ© dans son article, c’est celui de 2017, dans une rue tout prĂšs de la maison Pourcel. Au moment oĂč j’écris cet article, on a presque fini les travaux de rĂ©paration, et le grand Ă©chafaudage qui a Ă©tĂ© prĂ©sent pendant deux ans est trĂšs rĂ©duit en dimension. Et maintenant ça va ĂȘtre le tour de la maison de la MĂšre Pourcel.

The fifth fire that Mr Daniel mentioned in his article is that of 2017, in a street near the maison Pourcel. As I write this article, they have almost finished the repair work, and the large scaffolding that has been present for two years is very reduced in size. And now it’s going to be the turn of Mother Pourcel’s house.

EspĂ©rons qu’elle aussi, tout comme l’HĂŽtel Beaumanoir, va pouvoir renaĂźtre de ses cendres.

Let’s hope that it too, just like the Hîtel Beaumanoir, can be reborn from its ashes.

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