France’s Brittany gets its own Facebook

Nov 3, 2011
Vote on Hacker News

No, not Britney. But B-r-i-t-t-a-n-y. You know, the region in the north west of France, known as “Bretagne” to the French and “Breizh” to the local population. It’s a French region unlike the others, with its strong Celtic roots and local language that closely resembles Welsh (yes, French is still the official language, calm down). It’s the home of French writer Chateaubriand, crêpes and nationalist writer-historian Ernst Renan (whose famous essay “What is a nation?” not-so-subtly argued that the populations of Alsace-Lorraine that were lost during the Franco Prussian war were more or less still French).


(Please note: this is an actual map of France)

Bretagne is also the home of Breizhcola.

Not to be confused with CocaCola, despite it’s red and white logo, this drink is very obviously full of pride. It’s not called “French” Cola or draped in red, white and blue (yes, those are the colors of the French flag, too). No, no. Clearly, the population from this region is very proud of their culture and heritage – much like those in other French regions, including Corsica. In fact, the regional identity is so strong that some entrepreneurs from the area recently decided to launch their own local Facebook, called – you guessed it – Breizhbook.

Behold, the Breizhbook.

I remember when I first heard about the idea for this startup, which came out of a Startup Weekend event in Paris. At the time, I had a bit of a “WTF” moment. How was this a business? First, the French attempt at a Facebook (Copains d’Avant) had not really been much of a raging success. But even worse, at a time when all of Europe is complaining about markets that are fragmented and too small, what could possibly be the point of addressing an even smaller population ?! The team argued that it would ultimately not just be for people based in and originally from Brittany, but for “Brittany lovers” from all over. Um, OK.

Black and white vision.

When you arrive on the site – which, unless I am mistaken, is still a bit under construction – you’re greeted with a bit of a harsh black and white background (a rather “in your face” tribute to the region’s flag). But once you actually connect to the site, it’s a bit of a mash-up of several social platforms. There’s a bit of a Twitter feed, a chat, a blog roll…and I can instantly connect with all these people based in Brittany (or who love the region or whatever). Only problem: I’m automatically connected to everyone it seems. That’s a little odd.

Oh wait, there’s no Facebook in Breton.

So I do remember reading about a number of different software and platforms that had been released or translated into the Breton language (especially Mozilla products). But oddly enough, Facebook hasn’t been translated into Breton. I’m willing to spare Google translate – since they only recently decided to include Persian language in Google Translate – but Facebook’s community has translated the platform into everything from Pirate to Upside-down English language, but no Breton. Odd…very odd, for a population that has its own Facebook…in French!

Still, great initiative.

Ok so the product is still in development. All in all though, I think this type of social platform could have a real potential for connecting international students that want to or will study in France. Or just France lovers in general. People always email me before heading to France to ask me all kinds of crazy things; a hotel to sleep in, the best local bars and the best place to eat foie gras. So if you’re planning on heading to Brittany any time soon and you’re looking to connect with people on the ground for whatever reason, maybe this platform could help.