A little more Quimper

Continuing our wander around Quimper we’re after food, drink and curios.

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Can’t beat some sugary churros and chocolate dip. So we must eat them until we are sick!

We also do a spot of making the streets safer by locking up some hardened criminals.

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Then it’s onwards to find some quirky details such as painted tiles and bookshop signs.

A few of the imprisoned criminals appear to have escaped and need rounding up!

Quimper became wealthy from the 17th century onwards due to the growth of the pottery making industry here.

You can find many examples of pottery from cheap and cheerful tourist buys to centuries old, uber expensive, examples.

Below are more of the quaint medieval half-timbered buildings that make Quimper such a delight to visit.

You can roam the back streets in search of colourful souvenirs or (in this case) beach mats!

Musical flutes are always a treat for people who have small children . . . . .

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A bit of political paste up – Labour Law? No!

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Below are more examples of the town’s past architecture. This cute little tower leans out over the water like something out of a Disney film.

The caffeine addicts need their fix and so drop into a tiny side street cafe for a refuel.

I leave them too it and head off to snaffle out some architectural features and old signs.

Of course, no holiday visit is complete without the obligatory market traipse. So we head to the main, covered market hall ‘Halles Saint-François’.

Opened in 1847 on the site of the former convent of Saint-François, it is the most famous market, located in the heart of Quimper.

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From juicy fruits, to nuts, radishes and more – I am in shiny, colourful, snap happy mode.

Salad, spices and herbs are all stacked high and ready to be added to a tasty Breton dish.

The market resembles the hull of a ship with its wooden framed roof.

Double trouble sneak off to sample some curry to round off a day of hectic sightseeing.

Quimper

The next stop on our tour of Brittany is the pretty town of Quimper.

Not only is Quimper the administrative capital of the Finistère department, it is also generally regarded as the cultural heart of Brittany.

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The town is known for its cathedral, atmospheric old quarter and museums but most of all for its annual festival celebrating Breton culture.

The atmospheric old town is where you’ll find many half-timbered houses dating from the 14th century. The streets are named after old job titles.

 

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Below are a gorgeous array of mouth wateringly colourful macaroons. I had to be physically dragged away . .

Quimper gets its name from the Breton ‘kemper’, which refers to the junction of two rivers: the Steir and the Odet.

Quimper’s most impressive building is its cathedral, which is said to be the best example of Gothic religious architecture in Brittany.

Building started in the 12th century and continued at intervals until the 19th century, when the two spires were constructed and new stained glass windows were installed.

The cathedral is named after St Corentin, Quimper’s first bishop – the Cathedral of Saint Corentin of Quimper.

The cathedral lightly bends in the middle to match the contours of its location which was done to avoid an area that was swampy at the time of its construction.

It was the site of a devastating fire in 1620 when the bell tower was burned and the populace apparently saw a green devil in the flames.

The cathedral is full of stunningly vivid stained glass windows. Each with their own story to tell.

The 15th century windows are exceptional with colours that remain rainbow bright despite the passage of the centuries.

The level of detail to be seen on the windows is incredible including these petite little faces and architectural elements.

 

Next up we make ourselves sick on Churros and explore more of Quimper’s quirky streets.

 

 

Candles and candies

With a history that goes back more than 2000 years, Locronan was originally a sacred place for the celts known as a ‘nemeton’.

It then became an important religious centre during the middle ages, and an important centre for the manufacture of sail-cloth for the local ship-building industry during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Church of Saint Ronan in the centre of the village dates from the 15th century.

In the interior of the church there is an intricate altar, numerous stained glass windows, carved reliefs and medieval religious statues of painted wood: the ‘pieta’ of the Virgin and dead Christ.

There are also some exquisite, jewel bright, stained glass windows.

Stepping back out of the church you find yourself in The Place de l’Eglise – a large, attractive square entirely paved and surrounded on all sides by very well preserved ancient buildings, with the substantial vaulted church the most imposing among them.

Even buildings in a state of disrepair have a rustic charm all of their own.

Almost all the houses date from the 17th and 18th centuries and are different heights and have small architectural highlights and characterful roofs that make them interesting, and there is an ancient well in the centre of the square.

Many of the buildings are now home to artisan crafts including this confectionery shop that specialises in fruit jellies.

You can also find postcard perfect snaps on every street including this delightful floral, bike and sage green shutter display!

Behind the church is an attractive small cemetery full of ornate iron crosses.

Locronan is a beautifully preserved little piece of history and well worth a visit.

Locronan

Our next Breton stop is the beautiful little village of Locronan. A shame it’s a drizzly day.

This exquisite village in west Finistère occupies a long-sacred spot named after a revered Irishman who settled here in the Dark Ages.

Saint Ronan is greatly venerated in Brittany. He was an Irish Christian missionary of the 6th century who came to the region to teach the people. As his association with Locronan is close, some of his relics are kept in the parish church.

From the late Middle Ages, sail-making brought prosperity, and an exceptionally handsome architectural legacy.

The village’s beauty stems from the success of local weavers and merchants, who supplied fine sails not just to the French navy, but also to English and Spanish clients.

Locronan’s grandest houses, with their remarkable dormer windows, are mainly 18th century.

The solid Renaissance houses with traditional roofs and cobbled streets ooze history and will transport you back to the past.

Some of the stunning old buildings house beautiful boutique shops and retailers including this mouth watering chocolatiers.

The village’s name means the “hermitage of Ronan”, from the Breton lok which means hermitage, and after its founder Saint Ronan. It has previously been known as Saint-René-du-Bois.

Locronan is a member, unsurprisingly, of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (“The most beautiful villages of France”) association.

This tiny, picture postcard village has just 800 residents.But this swells in summer with an endless influx of tourists, all after a glimpse of its charms.

One of the shops is jam packed full of traditional produce from the local region.

There’s honey, tinned fish and sweets.

You can also pick from a plethora of ales, beers and speciality brews.

All over the village are a wealth of gorgeous little details such as this quirky shop sign.

 

Next we explore the wonderful old church and the rest of the village, all while dodging the incessant drizzle!.

Stone piles, old and new

Our final few glimpses of Camaret are a little on the grey, drizzly side.

As it starts to really rain we pop into Notre Dame de Rocamadour, or the Church of the Fishermen.

This attractive little church is situated out on the breakwater and lost its steeple to an English canon ball in 1694 during a naval battle between French and Anglo-Dutch vessels.

Inside the charming little church are various sea based religious icons. There are also three models of boats hanging from the nave.

The light coloured stone of the church’s interior feels light and airy and candles flicker against the warm, swirling stonework that almost resembles marble.

One of the most iconic symbols of Camaret is the Tour Vauban (Vauban Tower), initially known as the tour de Camaret – a 18m-high polygonal defensive tower.

It has three levels and is flanked by walls, a guardhouse and a gun battery which can hold 11 cannons as well as a cannonball foundry added in the French Revolution period.

Close to the tower, visitors have created their own little stone towers on the pebbly waterside jetty – also know as the sillon.

These stone cairns are oddly soothing to look at on this cloudy, grey day.

Continuing in Camaret

We continue to cruise the streets of Camaret, keeping eyes peels for little details around each corner.

Including this fantastic mustard coloured door with delightful pastel detailing.

 

The man helpfully points out where we are as I am more than a little geographically challenged!

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Then we head towards the harbour, stopping every five seconds for me to obsess over little paintings and rusty anchors.

I am finally man handled to the harbour (the man loves his floaty boats).

But to my endless delight we are greeted with this majestic spectacle – a ship graveyard *squeal*

So here’s just a selection of peeling, beached, rotting boat hulks for your “enjoyment”

Checking out Camaret

Next up on the family whirlwind tour of Brittany is Camaret. But we can’t resist stopping off at yet another little cove first!

Then it’s back on the road and headed onto Camaret-Sur-Mer, a small port town.

Lovers of seafood will be in their element here, at the port there are two “viviers” (holding tanks for live crustaceans), where you can buy all manner of sea foodie delights such as lobster, langouste, various species of crab, and, if requested, they will even cook them for you.

Some fishermen sell their catch directly after docking at the quayside, that’s just about as fresh as it gets. Colourful murals portray the fishy delights well.

Apparently the name Camaret-sur-Mer comes from Breton “kamm” (curve) and “red” (current).

For several centuries, Camaret drew its prosperity from sardine fishing, which was abundant in its waters. It had a flotilla of several hundred boats which tracked the “blue fish” in the Sea of Iroise.

It was also once one of the largest langouste fishing ports in France but has developed over time into a centre for artists and writers.

Evidence of this creative streak can be found everywhere – on walls and in galleries.

You can also admire nature’s artistry with beautiful planters and hanging baskets. Here’s a few of my favourite semperviums.

Plus there are a multitude of delicious blue windows and doors to snap away at!

More pictures from Camaret to follow shortly 🙂

Old churches and ancient stones

On a slightly grey, overcast day we all pile into the cars for a day trip from Loctudy to Camaret. On route we stop at a traditional stone church.

Here we can see some of the archetypal religious architecture that is prevalent in Brittany.

There are several regional features that mark out the Breton country church – one of them is a delicate openwork steeple.

Another detail that sets rural Breton churches apart are the forests of very ornate, carved stone crosses that are found in the church yards – an example of these are pictured above.

These are  calvary (calvaire in French) – a type of monumental public crucifix, sometimes encased in an open shrine.

The Breton calvaire is distinguished from a simple crucifix cross by the inclusion of three-dimensional figures surrounding the Crucifixion itself, typically representing Mary and the apostles of Jesus, though later saints and symbolic figures may also be depicted.

Inside we can see colourful stained glass and carved icons glore.

 

Moving one from old churches we briefly stop off at some truly ancient relics. Below are a selection of the mysterious, ancient, menhir that can be found in Brittany.

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A menhir is a Breton term for a standing stone; it can be on its own, part of an alignment, or part of a circle.

The nippers are not so enchanted with a load of old rocks so we don’t dally for long!

Les Sables Blanc

This post is mainly dedicated to the lovely Les Sable Blanc (white sands) beach close to our gite in Loctudy.

To the west of Loctudy, on the limit of Lesconil, the beach of Sables Blancs is the most beautiful beach of Loctudy and the biggest one.

It’s vast  – stretching for about 750 meters, in an arc of circle, composed of white sand and lined with dunes, it offers a magnificent view of Lesconil.

There are several campsites close by, the space is vast and one can easily find a place there.

On the other hand, there’s no life guarding equipment and swimming is not monitored.

However it is a stunning place to while away the hours. Windsurfing, cricketing, swimming and generally holidaying!

Brittany baby!

Despite having gathered quite a bit of the world under my belt, I have been woefully lax in exploring one of the closest places to my home country – France!

I’ve only ever been to the South of France and that was many years ago, a whirlwind tour of Nice, Cannes, Antibes and Monaco and fantastic it was!

However this year I finally managed to explore a bit more of our closest continental neighbour with a trip to Brittany.

We hired a large gite in the little hamlet of Loctudy that was home to 10 of us for a week. The village is full of the beautiful traditional architecture of the region.

Loctudy (Or in Breton: Loktudi) is a fishing port and seaside resort in Brittany, France, at the mouth of the Pont-l’Abbé river estuary.

Close to our gite is the gorgeous  Beach Sables Blancs (or white sand beach)

Crisp, squeaky and glittery white sand sneaks as far as the eye can see, a peaceful paradise.

While the turquoise sea looks inviting it is still quite bracing!

Here’s the unusually shaped elephant rock – obvious to see why it has this moniker!

One of the things that I quickly noticed about this gorgeous little spot is just how many huge, blousey hydrangeas are about.

I love these delicious blossoms and have never seen such an abundance or such a variety of colours and shades. Prepare for many many more snaps of them!!