Or should we say Welcome to Bénodet
Today, the town is a renowned seaside resort at the mouth of the River Odet on the Cornouaille coast. This is where the beautiful Odet River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The name of the town is Breton for "tip of the Odet", and because the river is navigable as far as Quimper. During the Middle Ages, Bénodet was the commercial outer harbour of Quimper, with produce from the town and surroundings countryside being carried down the river then transferred to coasters to be shipped to countries like Spain, England and the Netherlands. Today, you can see a boating ballet being played out beneath the magnificent span of Bridge of Cornouaille. It makes you feel as if you are watching an animated postcard that is forever moving with the reflections on the water.
Bénodet only came to the fore only at the beginning of the last century when sea bathing become popular. The sheltered bay with a long sweeping beach is the ideal place to sit and watch the world go by, take a cruise to the Glénan islands or up the peaceful river Odet towards Quimper on one of the many craft operated by Vedettes de L’Odet, visit the marina to admire the rich variety of activity or just enjoy the safe sandy beaches.
The marina, accessible in all weathers and at any time whatever the tide and type of boat, has gained an
international reputation over the years with its space for 500 on a floating dock and further 250 places on buoys in the sheltered river. No expense has been spared to ensure that mariners are given
a warm welcome and provided with a complete range of services: harbourmasters office, restaurants, bar, fuel, showers, toilets, boat repairs, careening, ship chandlers, sail loft etc.
On the quay you will find both working and pleasure craft side by side, as this is also a very busy harbour. This thriving water village is a story of an encounter, a love affair between the sea and the river.
Phare de la Pyramide (Pyramid lighthouse)
Constructed in 1872 and 48 metres high, it has originally a wooden beacon in the shape of a pyramid, and used by sailors as a reference point for entering the river. It was badly damaged on August 10, 1944 by the German troops and rebuilding was completed in March 1949
Aligned with the beacon on the Pyramid lighthouse, it owes its name to the underwater rock whose shape resembles a cockerel. Again, another lighthouse severely damaged by the Germans in August 1944; such was the damage that a temporary light was put in place until the building was repaired,
This chapel, on the road to Fouesnant, was the parish church of Bénodet until 1878, dedicated to
holy Irish, Brigitte ("Berc' hed" in Breton), who was worshipped in Finistère from the 5th century. A primitive church on the site was replaced by this Romanesque chapel towards the end of the 11th
or beginning of the 12th century and the grounds around the chapel were used as a cemetery. Later in the 16th century a small ossuary and porch were added to the south side of the building. The
wayside cross was restored in 1989 and represents St. Laurent and St. Brigitte the two saints to which this church is dedicated. The statues, widows and alter have been restored and are magnificent
in the summer light. Also of note is the unusual stone staircase on the roof that leads to the pierced bell-tower that crowns the transept crossing. This building is one of the oldest testaments to
Breton religious inheritance.
You can have a guided tour of the chapel on Saturdays and Sundays during the high season between 10.30 am to 12 and from 3pm to 7pm.
Église St. Thomas (Church of St. Thomas)
This church on the harbour quayside is dedicated to Saint-Thomas Becket, built in the 13th Century, it originally only had a nave and small clock tower. It was enlarged during the 16th Century and later in the 19th Century rebuilt using many of the original materials.
The "Musée du Bord de Mer", seaside museum opens is a unique exhibition. Here you can journey through
time discovering "La Belle Plaisance" and the delights of boating, the origins of yachting in Bénodet,as well as the magic of the Odet estuary. All aspects of life on and by the sea are
Église Notre Dame de la Mer (Church of Our Lady of the Sea)
This church on the Avenue de la Mer has more of a contemporary style of architecture being built in 1968. Its most interesting feature is a late 15th century wooden pieta.
A thousand years of Breton history can be seen in and around Bénodet, as Brittany is full of traditions,
with song and dance reflecting the exceptional heritage that has been fashioned by the interaction of mankind and the sea. Impressive scenic views, the rugged Cornouaille landscape, and ancient
impassive stones tell their own stories of the history of time far-off legends.
Over the years Bénodet has not only enthralled holidaymakers, but also talented writers have enjoyed its pleasures, including the likes Emile Zola, André Suarez, Frédéric le Guyader and Guillaume Apollinaire; also many artists André Dauchez, Lucien Simon, Eugène Boudin have managed to capture on canvas the atmosphere of Bénodet.
May we end this guide with a verse from Guillaume Apollinaire, written in August 1917, after his stay in Bénodet:
Bénodet ne sait pas celle-là qu'il préfère
La mer aux mille écueils ou sa tendre rivière'
Odet plus douce encore que ne sonne son nom
Mais le temps passe il faudra bien que tu t'en ailles
Laissant Quimper et le Comté de Cornouaille