Beating steadily at the heart of Bigouden country, Pont-l’Abbé offers a mosaïc of some 250 businesses that include unique interior design stores, antique shops and bric-à-brac shops. Every Thursday morning, the weekly market welcomes stalls selling regional specialities, locally-grown produce, clothing, homeware, gifts, crafts and of course edible goodies waiting to tempt you…
Head to the Musée Bigouden, housed in the ancient medieval Donjon that once belonged to the château of the Barons. The museum has four exhibition rooms that take visitors through rural and maritime life, furniture, crafts, richly-embroidered clothing typical of the area in times gone by and traditional costume – all of which results in a fine collection well worth a visit.
Quimper, the capital of the “department” of Finistère and also of this area known as French Conrnwall (“Cornouaille”), is a thousand-year-old city recognised for its artistic and historic significance through the label “Ville d’Art et d’Histoire”. The city boasts four permanent museums: the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts), the Musée Départemental Breton (Breton culture and history), the Centre d’Art Contemporain (Contemporary art), and the Musée de la Faïence (focussing on the iconic local pottery).
As the commercial capital of the region, Quimper has a wide and varied range of shops, serving over 300 000 residents, and its pedestrian streets have evocative names: Place au Beurre, rue du Sallé, rue des Boucheries, rue Kéréon (cobblers).
As well as being France’s third most important fishing port, Concarneau has other assets that make it a very popular summer resort. The main draw is the quaint ville close (walled town) followed by some lovely sandy beaches and a lively maritime festival in August.
The ville close is without doubt Concarneau’s most popular tourist attraction. This old stone fortified ‘town’ has just a few narrow streets filled with shops and restaurants, where geraniums tumble from window boxes. Take a walk around the ramparts for spectacular views over the area. Near the entrance to the ville close is the Musée de la Pêche.
From 1865, a cosmopolitan group of artists began to gather and paint in Pont-Aven. It was was only after 1886, however, that Gauguin, Bernard and Sérusier ensured Pont-Aven’s place in posterity with their new artistic concepts. Now known all over the world as the “School of Pont-Aven”, their movement is seen as one of the foundations of Modern Art.
The story of their life and work can be discovered at the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum). Classified as a “Musée de France”, it holds over 850 works of art both through permanent exhibition and temporary shows. Nowadays, Pont-Aven certainly upholds its status as home and inspiration to artists, with several artist workshops, an Art School, an International Centre of Modern Art, beginners’ art courses open to everyone and 60 private exhibition spaces.
For hikers or those who enjoy a stroll, a 1-hour circuit winds through the Bois d’Amour, the best known and most frequented place of inspiration for the painters. In town, the discovery trail “In the footsteps of Gauguin”, allows you to discover the local heritage with the theme of the artist’s eye.