Quimper takes its name from the Breton term “Kemper”, meaning “confluence”. And you can see why, since three rivers flow through this city of art and history, not far from the sea, where nature and stone, traditional and contemporary know-how are showcased in equal measure. River Odet connects the city to the ocean. The legendary King Gradlon sits, slightly off-centre, on horseback between Quimper’s cathedral spires. With a definite hint of Venice about it, you’ll be amazed by the city’s creative, laid-back vibes and charming sites!
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Inhabited since ancient times, this large town in southern Finistère experienced a growth spurt in the Middle Ages thanks to river traffic. Its mythical roots are inextricably bound up with two legendary figures: Gradlon, the King of Ys, and St Corentin, whom Gradlon asked to be Quimper’s first bishop. The city’s cathedral, the majestic centrepiece in the old, historical district, is dedicated to St Corentin. Let your intuition guide you on a stroll along the picturesque streets, lined with half-timbered houses and stone buildings: from Place au Beurre to Rue Kéréon, enchantment is everywhere!
Earthenware, embroidery : local crafts in the spotlight!
Creativity comes naturally here. Over three centuries, pottery-making in the crafts district of Locmaria has helped forge Quimper’s reputation. Though the techniques are still the same, exclusively done by hand, the industry has kept up with the times: at the Henriot-Quimper faience workshop, the iconic, two-handled bowl with colourful, traditional decoration holds its own alongside contemporary designer pieces. This creative drive is also nurtured round the corner at the artistic embroidery school founded by Pascal Jaouen. Textile art, fine embroidery, cat walks – the school’s Espace Baradoz puts on a sensational show!
Good food and a zest for life
The capital of Brittany’s Cornouaille region is home to a vibrant cultural scene. Its Fine Arts Museum boasts some of the richest collections in France, with its Max Jacob collection, works by Pierre Tal-Coat and the Pont-Aven School. In addition to the city’s museums, its modernist, Art Deco architecture is also a feast for the eyes, as are its trendy abstract or urban art galleries and concert halls like the Novomax. Place du Stivel in Locmaria is the new favourite hang-out for artists and flea-markets. And there’s no shortage of delicious food outlets and shops. The local treat? A wafer-thin crepe, best of all from the indoor market, eaten on the go, before a spot of retail therapy!
Let your intuition guide you on a stroll along the streets: enchantment is everywhere!
Did you know?
Why does the Triomphe des Sonneurs always go off with a bang?
Because it’s the grand finishing act of the Festival de Cornouaille! On the fourth Sunday every July, all of the pipe band players parade through the city, from the cathedral to Locmaria, ending at the Ceili pub, where all generations enjoy getting together!
A breath of fresh air
Feel like getting out amidst nature? That’s quite literally a walk in the park in Quimper! The great outdoors is on your doorstep here. Take your pick of gardens: Jardin de la Paix, Jardin de la Retraite – little havens of greenery – or how about the mediaeval Jardin du Prieuré? You can walk to Mont Frugy, overlooking the city, to the banks of the River Steir… or cycle along the towpath, to the park at Château de Lanniron or to Creac’h-Gwen lake and its cheerful outdoor café. Just 20 minutes away, the sea is easy to get to by bus or by bike.
Saint-Corentin cathedral, a Gothic cathedral from the 12th, 15th and 19th centuries
Locmaria church, a Romanesque church, priory from the 17th and 18th centuries, 17th-century cloister and fragments of a Romanesque cloister
The 17th-century Jesuit church
Lanniron castle and gardens from the 17th and 19th centuries, a listed Historic Monument, formal French gardens
The Breton museum in the former Bishops’ Palace and the Fine Arts Museum
The historic centre and its three ancient hearts: the Bishop’s city and its cobbled streets, where the names recall ancient professions: Rue Kéréon (shoemakers), Rue des Boucheries (butchers), Place au Beurre (butter), etc.; the city of the Dukes of Brittany with its half-timbered houses on Place Terre au Duc and Rue Saint Matthieu; Locmaria, the early part of the city
Relaxing gardens full of charm: Jardin de la Retraite, Jardin de Locmaria, Jardin du Théâtre Max Jacob
HOW TO GET THERE / GET AROUND
Getting to Quimper
Scheduled flights connect Orly-Quimper several times a day and during the weekend. The high-speed train line has reduced the journey time by train to Quimper to 3 hours 30 from Paris-Montparnasse station, with 11 trains running per day. The long-distance bus Flixbus and BlaBlaBus, also travel to Quimper from the main cities.
Getting around in Quimper and its region
Exploring Quimper by foot is a very lovely experience. But you can also use the bus with the Qub network, or travel throughout Finistère with the BreizhGo coach network.
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