A much painted country town
Named after the beech trees that mark the pretty, rural, hilly area around it, the town of Le Faouët stands quietly in northwest Morbihan. Its centrepiece is its staggering covered market place, but its glorious outlying chapels also made painters flock to it, as is recalled in the museum.
A magnet of a market place
All roads in Le Faouët lead to its hilltop square, where the huge 16th-century covered market has pride of place. Its remarkable timber-frame and slate structure has been carefully restored and still serves its purpose well on market days: first and third Wednesdays of the month. Lots of cafés and restaurants line the sides of the square, onto which a fine array of old houses look out.
A little international school of painters
While Le Faouët may have thrived on its large agricultural fairs, the industrial age largely passed it by so its picturesque looks were preserved, drawing 19th-century artists from home and abroad. A convent off the the main square has been converted into an art museum. The canvases allow you to go back in time and observe the market square teeming with animals and activity. You can also enjoy learning about the life of ants and bees at L’Abeille Vivante et la Cité des Fourmis, in their farm setting.
Flamboyant gothic glories
Two exceptional chapels stand close to town. To the south, St-Fiacre dominates its little hamlet with its massive scale and merry steeple. This Flamboyant Gothic structure contains refined stained glass and a fabulously carved rood-screen, teeming with figures below Christ on his cross. From the same period, but hiding away on a narrow ledge beside a plateau north of town, the Chapelle Ste-Barbe is remarkably beautiful too. The story goes that it was founded after a local lord sought refuge against the cliff face here when a violent storm broke out, but boulders began raining down on him. He promised St Barbe he would build her a chapel on the spot should he survive – hence the surprising location. Grand stairways were added in the Ancien Régime to help visitors get down to the chapel more easily.
Did you know?
Marion du Faouët was a kind of Breton Robin Hood who robbed from the rich to give to the poor – only Marion was a woman acting in the 18th century, and she ended on the scaffold.
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