Tucked away in the countryside a stone’s throw from the neighbouring maritime town of Lorient, Pont-Scorff is a rural patchwork of streets, wooded riverbanks and mediaeval centre. A listed Ville et Métiers d’arts with Petite Cité de Caractère® status, Pont-Scorff is a unique trove of historical, natural and artistic treasures.
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It all started with the bridge! Built in Gallo-Roman times, the bridge provided continuous passage along the road that led from Vannes all the way to Brest. It sparked centuries of prosperity, buoyed by trade, justice and naval activities. In the Middle Ages, Pont-Scorff was an important seat for the local feudal lords, as illustrated by the 16th-century Maison des Princes. Around the triangular central square, the stately town houses dominate the upper heights of Pont-Scorff, known as “Haut Pont-Scorff”. The craftsmen, millers and washerwomen, meanwhile, could be found in “Lower” Pont-Scorff, near the river: an area that was very active until the 19th century. A fully-fledged heritage trail, dotted with designers’ studios and exhibitions!
Down the centuries
“Honour to whom honour is due” Stop in front of the Maison des Princes, built for the Guémené line of the House of Royan. Justice was served behind its façade adorned with animals and coats of arms and harking back to the second period of the French Renaissance in Brittany (16th c.). Next to it you can see the high gable of the Gothic Revival Sacré-Coeur Church. Your journey through time continues at the Cour des métiers d’art gallery, leaving the square outlined by two Roman roads behind. Three buildings here are graced with 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century architecture, and feature some unusual details. Have you spotted the ox-eye window? And the weather vane? Wend your way back through the narrow streets to find the turret of the Atelier d’Estienne contemporary art centre, housed in a 17th-century workshop.
Encounters with local craftspeople and designers
As you stroll along, the workshops and exhibition rooms all beckon you inside. In the Cour des métiers d’art gallery, nearly 70 designers present unique wares, each one harnessing traditional skills which thus endure to this day. Glass, leather, wood and pottery are exquisitely fashioned by these craftspeople. In the former 19th-century boys’ school, works by the Dutch artist have replaced the school desks. At the Atelier d’Estienne, the modern exhibitions contrast with the historical building and the attic space of the Maison des Princes (now the town hall). Altogether surprising, don’t you think?
As you stroll along, the workshops and exhibition rooms all beckon you inside
Did you know?
Salmon is celebrated in music
The River Scorff is home to Atlantic salmon, and proud of it. There’s a whole festival dedicated to the prized fish! For nearly thirty years, Pont-Scorff has been staging the Salmon Festival for three days every July. Nature activities, shows and concerts sing the praises of local biodiversity.
Back to nature and the river
Saint-Urchaut manor house is your reference point for returning to the Scorff riverbanks, where washerwomen used to work until the 1970s for Lorient’s upper classes. Rented out to merchants from the French East India Company in the 17th century, the manor house now displays contemporary art exhibitions. Surrounded by pleasant greenery, it’s also an ideal starting point for walks, beside the river, in discovery of the local wildlife and plants. Thanks to its high-quality environment, the River Scorff is renowned for the Atlantic salmon that swims up it. At the Moulin des Princes, there is a fish counting station for observing their migration. This is an opportunity not only to find out more about the river and its fish, but also dragonflies and fishing for example.