US superstar Beyoncé has ‘Breton roots’

Superstar Beyoncé Knowles may be one of the biggest and most successful singers ever to come out of America, but her roots are well and truly French, or more precisely Breton, a French genealogical association claimed on Monday.

US superstar Beyoncé has 'Breton roots'
Beyoncé the Breton? According to a local geneaological society, the superstar can trace her roots back to 18th century Brittany. Photo: Martinb/Wikimedia/AFP

She may not dance in the traditional style of a Breton woman, but Beyoncé does in indeed have Celtic roots, according to the French genealogical association “Racines et Rameaux" (Roots and Branches).

The world-famous star, who is one of the most successful US artists of all time, has her origins in the tiny island of Belle-Ile-en-Mer off the coast of the region of Brittany in the west of France.

According to the association, the former Destiny’s Child singer’s great-great-great-great grandmother was Marie-Francoise Trahan, a member of a family who fled Acadia, a French colony in present-day Canada, and settled in the Morbihan region of Brittany in the late 18th century.

Around a decade later Trahan is believed to have sailed from the west coast of France to the US state of Louisiana, where she then met her husband Joseph Broussard.

The great granddaughter of the couple was Celestine Anne, who is none other than Beyoncé’s mother.

André Thomas, a local geneaologist who can also trace his ancestry back to Marie-Françoise Trahan, seemed non-plussed by being distantly related to Beyoncé.

"I don't know her at all. Never heard her music. I don't really listen to music," he told The Local on Monday.

"Besides, we're used to finding famous people with Acadian roots – like Céline Dion, for example," added the resident of Belle-Ile-en-Mer, the largest of the islands off the coast of Brittany, situated some 14 km from the Quiberon Peninsular.. 

Speaking to local paper Le Télégramme, however, Thomas did note that his grandchildren were "amazed when I told them they were cousins of Beyoncé."

Can you see the likeness? Like Beyoncé, André Thomas (R) can trace his ancestry back to Marie-Françoise Trahan.
Of his long-lost relative, he told The Local: "I don't know her. Never heard her music." Photo: Instagram/André Thomas

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé is most famous for her two chart-topping tracks Single Ladies and Crazy in Love.

According to France’s TF1 TV, the discovery of her Breton roots was made by Jacques Nerrou the president of Racines et Rameaux, which specialises in researching the pioneers who left to settle in America before the 19th century.

Can you see any sign of Beyoncé's Breton roots? Compare and contrast these two videos.

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French town of Nantes votes for referendum on exiting Pays-de-la-Loire region

The French city of Nantes is to hold a referendum on exiting the Pays-de-la-Loire region and becoming part of Brittany instead.

French town of Nantes votes for referendum on exiting Pays-de-la-Loire region
Photo: AFP

On Friday the town council of Nantes voted in favour of requesting the French government organise a referendum so local people can have their say about whether they wish to remain in the Pays-de-la-Loire region or become part of Brittany – a region that many say the town has more historic and cultural connections to.

The vote on Friday was carried by 56 votes and concerns whether the département of Loire-Atlantique – which contains Nantes – should move regions.

READ ALSO The 20 essential maps you need to understand Brittany


The vote follows a petition in 2018 which gathered 105,000 signatures.

Nantes mayor Johanna Rolland said: “This strong citizen mobilisation cannot be ignored. It reflects the aspiration of our fellow citizens to be consulted to a greater extent, in a context of essential revitalisation of our democracy.”

The desire of people in the Loire-Atlantique to become Breton isn't new.
The départment was part of Brittany until World War II, when it was separated and made part of the neighbouring region by the Vichy government. That region eventually became the Pays-de-la-Loire in 1955.
The issue has been simmering since then and pro-Breton voices have become louder in recent years as they hope to take advantage of a law that allows départments to chose which region they belong to via a referendum.
The town, which is the historic seat of the Dukes of Brittany, also declared its intention to  “set up a permanent pluralist body to engage in a genuine consultation with the State on the organisation of this referendum, organise an in-depth debate on the issues and consequences of a redistribution in order to feed the citizen debate, and formulate proposals to strengthen cooperation between Nantes and the other Breton territories”. 
However the referendum will have to be approved by both the national government and the regional authorities.

France's regions were reorganised in 2016 and several were merged to create the current 13 regions of mainland France.

Brittany currently covers four départements – Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-d'Armor, Finistère and Morbihan – while Pays-de-la-Loire covers Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe and Vendée. Nantes is currently the largest town in the region.