Nestled at the bottom of the estuary, Pont-l’Abbé, with the « Little Town of Character » label, was described by Maupassant as « the most Breton town » of Lower Brittany. The castle, the inhabited bridge that gave the town its name, the shipowners’ and merchants’ residences evoke its proud history. It was in this land of legends that the famous headdress gained its height, honouring the skill of the embroiderers.
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From the quays, built with stones taken from the former walls, little streets will take you to the Gothic church of Notre-Dame des Carmes. It’s the only vestige of a convent founded in the 14th century. In the chapel, which is typical of architecture of the Mendicant order, you can admire the 19th-century stained-glass windows. The glass in the rose window, which is the original glass, is set in granite lacework.
Monuments with the traces of a turbulent past
As soon as you’ve crossed the bridge, the castle is reflected in the pond. The keep and the cellars of the 14th-century medieval fortress still remain. The main part was rebuilt in the 18th century after it was burnt down by the Bonnets Rouges. Their uprising against new taxes caused retaliation: the steeple of Lambour church was decapitated by order of the Sun King in 1675. It’s worth visiting the ruined building to see its flamboyant façade.
Did you know
The bridge is still inhabited
France has nine inhabited bridges. The one in Pont-l’Abbé has apartments, a biscuit shop and Le Minor, a company that makes the kabig jacket and table linen.
A trading hub
The streets and squares are lined with hotels constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries by the local aristocracy. But the majority of the fine residences were built in the 19th century by a bourgeoisie established in trade, notably the potato trade. This trading tradition still animates the market on Thursdays, which is the biggest in Cornouaille, and the numerous boutiques that line the little streets.