A delightful port brimming with history and a major pilgrimage site
As you travel over the dual-carriageway bridge between Vannes and Lorient, you can’t help but notice a pretty little port. Nestled at the bottom of an estuary, Saint-Goustan takes you back in time with its cobbled streets, stone bridge, half-timbered houses and bustling quays. The historic town of Auray is also home to one of Brittany’s major pilgrimage sites.
Click. Inspire. Go…
Receive the Brittany newsletter!
Discover Auray – port of Saint-Goustan
Saint-Goustan is not a place for wobbling around on high heels. The ramps alongside the River Loch, built on the ruins of a castle, lead you down to the port, and this is a great starting point for a leisurely stroll along the shady terraces of the promenade, with delightful views down to the quays. The most picturesque side of the river is reached by crossing the four-arched stone bridge that dates back to the 13th century. Place Saint-Sauveur, with its round cobbles, is encircled by opulent-looking half-timbered and corbelled houses. The steep streets, cut into steps, trace a path through the town, lined by half-timbered facades. While the 15th and 16th century dwellings look dignified in the daytime, they bustle with café terraces in the evening.
Two towns in one
Auray-Saint-Goustan is a Town of Art and History that boasts two historic quarters. The upper town is centred around Saint-Gildas church, while the lower town is clustered along the banks of the River Loch. During the Middle Ages, the port’s strategic position meant that it collected duties from boats passing through. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the wine and grain trade made this place the third most important port in Brittany. The memories of that time still echo through the granite slabs, recalling the arrival of the American Benjamin Franklin, who landed here in 1776 to meet King Louis XVI.
Did you know
Which film was made at Saint-Goustan?
The stronghold of Georges Cadoudal – leader of the Breton Chouannerie uprisings of the late 1700s – was at Auray, so it made sense that Philippe de Broca should choose the old town to shoot several scenes of his movie ‘Chouans’!
In the footsteps of pilgrims
Nearby is the sanctuary city of Sainte-Anne d’Auray, the most important Catholic pilgrimage site in Brittany. The neo-Gothic basilica is the high point of any visit, but don’t miss the chance to wander around the cloister and pause by the miracle fountain, the memorial, the monumental statue and the Espace John Paul II. Guided tours are a great way to explore this remarkable heritage spot. Families can enjoy playing the game ‘In search of the Keys of Time’ (‘A la recherche des Clés du Temps’) using a pack available from the tourist office.