Maisons à Pondalez – a world exclusive !
This is the only place you’ll find the so-called ‘maisons à pondalez’ (overhanging houses), nestling among the other historic buildings! Constructed in the 16th century by linen merchants, these houses were built on three storeys around a monumental fireplace, a winding central staircase and wooden indoor walkways named ‘ponts d’allée’ – a derivation of the Breton term ‘pondalez’. Their half-timbered, overlapping storeys tower over the narrow streets leading off Place Allende, guiding you through the Breton Renaissance. To learn all their secrets, push open the door of the house called Maison de la Duchesse-Anne, on Rue au Mur, or the Maison à Pondalez on Grand Rue.
Backstreets that take you to the top!
Continue to explore the heritage of Morlaix as you make your way up the hill, along steep little streets linked by flights of stone steps, which lie behind the scenes of the main town. Stroll along at your own pace, and when you make it to the top you’ll be rewarded with plunging views over little gardens, half-timbered shops, wash-houses and the ruins of the old walled town. A well-earned view!
Wander above the rooftops
Once you’ve reached the top then make the most of it! ‘Venelle aux Prêtres’ (Priests’ Alley) takes you to the first level of the viaduct. This is the symbol of the city, and a crowning glory that overlooks a lovely mosaic of slate roofs and offers breathtaking views over the old town and its many church steeples. The solid stone arches built with granite from Ile Grande set off the scene perfectly.
A manufacturing heritage with a modern twist on the quays
The viaduct marks the boundary between the town’s 16th and 17th century heritage and its 18th century history. The port was once a hub of maritime trade, and is lined with buildings with imposing facades, built during the 1730s. The tobacco factory, nicknamed the ‘Manu’ (from ‘Manufacture de Tabac’), is a testament to Morlaix’s manufacturing past and there’s still something of the rebellious spirit about the place that you can see in its buildings, now converted into arts venues. You’ll suddenly come across a monumental fresco, an exhibition or a café performance as you admire a portico or stroll along a pontoon. There’s a whole range of urban pleasures to enjoy – which you could wash down with a delicious local craft beer – before going on to explore beautiful Morlaix Bay.