© Simon Bourcier

Quimper

The heart of Brittany
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Quimper

Not only is Quimper the administrative capital of the Finistère department, it is also generally regarded as the cultural heart of Brittany. The town is known for its cathedral, atmospheric old quarter and museums but most of all for its annual festival celebrating Breton culture.

Two rivers

Quimper gets its name from the Breton kemper, which refers to the junction of two rivers: the Steir and the Odet. The Odet, generally regarded as Brittany’s prettiest river, runs east to west, parallel to the old town, and enters the sea at Benodet – why not take a boat trip? The river is crossed by little bridges, which are lined with pretty geranium-filled boxes.

Gothic splendour

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 Saint Corentin, Quimper’s first bishop.

Museums for all

Next to the cathedral is the former Bishop’s Palace, which is now the Musée Départmental Breton. The museum displays finds from archaeological digs around Brittany and is highly regarded for its collection of Breton costumes and furniture. Quimper’s other museum of note is the Musée des Beaux Arts, which has a fine collection of paintings from renowned Breton artists and the Pont-Aven School.

The old town

West of the cathedral is the atmospheric old town, where you’ll find many half-timbered houses dating from the 14th century. The streets are named after old job titles and Place au Beurre, where butter was sold, is one of Quimper’s prettiest locations and good place to stop for a crêpe. The old market hall burned down in 1976 but the new Halles St Francis (open daily) are particularly lively on Saturday mornings.

Did you know ?

Faience pottery has been made in the Locmaria district of Quimper since 1690.

Main points of interest

  • The Gothic cathedral of Saint-Corentin, 12th, 15th and 19th centuries
  • The church of Locmaria, Romanesque church, 17th and 18th century priory, 17th century cloister and fragments of the Romanesque cloister
  • The 17th century Jesuit church
  • The Château de Lanniron and its 17th and 19th century grounds, a listed Historic Monument, French gardens
  • The Breton departmental museum, located in the former Bishop’s Palace, and the Museum of Fine Arts
  • The old town centre and its three historic districts: the ‘Ville de l’Evêque’ (Bishop’s town) with its cobbled streets named after old job titles, such as the Rue Kéréon (shoemakers), Rue des Boucheries (butchers) and Place au Beurre (butter makers); the city of the Dukes of Brittany with its quaint half-timbered houses on the Place Terre-au-Duc, Rue Saint Matthieu etc.; and Locmaria, the original old town.
  • Quimper has been listed as a ‘Town in Bloom’ since 2003 thanks to the quality of its green spaces and beautiful gardens: the Jardin de la Retraite (‘garden of retirement’), the Locmaria garden and the Max Jacob Theatre garden.

Information & bookings

Quimper Cornouaille Tourist Office


Plan your holiday

Getting there

Getting to Quimper

Eurostar will get you to Paris from London in 2 hours 16 minutes. The high-speed rail link has reduced travel time by train from Paris-Montparnasse to Quimper to 3 hours 30 minutes, with 11 trains per day. There are also regular flights between Paris Orly airport and Quimper several times a day and at weekends, and direct flights from London City airport in July and August. Long-distance bus operators Isilines, Eurolines, Flixbus and Ouibus run regular services to Quimper from major towns and cities. If you’re driving from the ferry ports, Quimper is 101 km from Roscoff and 227 km from Saint-Malo.

Travelling in and around Quimper

Exploring Quimper on foot is very enjoyable. But you can also get around on buses operated by the Qub network, or travel throughout Finistère using the Penn-ar-Bed coach network.

Official website of tourism in Brittany