Over 50 centuries of history and culture here : a prehistorical civilization developed here long before the Roman conquest and still visible like the Carnacstone alignments
As a result of the Reformation in the 16th Century, the Bretons wished to express their loyalty to their Catholic faith and weaken the new Protestant influence by donations of art or money to the local churches such as in Guimiliau. This prosperous period allowed financing ambitious projects. Existing religious sites were ornately decorated and impressive porches as well as elaborate calvaries were added, in order to show visitors the wealth and care that people were prepared to spend to support the Catholic Church in its time of need.
The 17th and 18th Centuries saw the development in Quimper of the craftsmanship and fine artworks which the region is known for today. Also, in the little village of Pont-Aven, at the end of the 19th Century, a new avant-garde artistic style of painting developed, championed by Paul Gauguin, much as had happened with Monet at Giverny in Normandy.
Old market town with strategic bridge over the Aven river, Pont-Aven located at the beginning of an estuary, had a busy shipping port for local produce : “14 mills and 15 houses” as publicity used to state. So while in a town that was once home to many millers, look for its specialty : the Galettes de Pont-Aven buttercookies ! The tranquil atmosphere was discovered in the late 19th century by artists and it became a leading artist colony that studied cloisonnism and developed its own painting movement around Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard (1886-1894).
During the visit of the village, take the enchanting walk to discover the “Bois d’Amour” wooded area that inspired so many painters, then explore the Art Museum that offers permanent and temporary exhibitions. Don’t miss the Trémalo Chapel where he painted the “Yellow Christ” and his self-portrait. Don’t hesitate either to escape to the coast and nearby Le Pouldu beach resort to visit the hotel (now a museum) that welcomed these artists.
Ancient capital of French Cornwall, “Quimper” means that the town has grown at the junction of several rivers. When pe many canals, the typical and unscathed medieval streets will lead you inevitably to St-Corentin’s cathedral.
Built in 1240, it has an elegant painted interior with old stained-glass windows. From 1690 and in the 18th century started the production of porcelain and was developed here a proper style of this glazed and hand-painted pottery, the worldwide famous Quimper faïence.
You may visit one of the museums to discovers old ones or stop in the Henriot factory to purchase new ones.
As a result of the Reformation taking place in other parts of France, the Bretons expressed the renewal of their Roman-catholic faith by a stricter and more regular practice as well as money donations to the local churches.
Not only the interiors became more colorful and highly decorated and were used to teach illiterate people the Bible and the stories of local saints, but also the exteriors changed.
Monumental porches were built at the entrance of churches and walls were built around cemeteries in order to divide the sacred from the secular. Triumphal gateways lead into these parish closes, passing by a great calvary or even an ossuary.
As intriguing a prehistoric site as Stonehenge, England, Carnac retains over 3.000 granite menhirs (standing stones, in Breton language) around three sites that have been lined up some 5.000 years ago !
Whether for religious purposes or as an astronomical calendar, the magnificence and complexity of the alignments reveal the presence here of a great advanced Neolithic civilization.
Also quite interesting the Saint-Michel tumulus, an artificial hill of 125 meters long and 10 meters high, and more recent (almost new…) Saint-Cornély church from the 17th century...!