The Bay of Cornwall
This bustling fishing port offers some fascinating contrasts, the charm of a walled town, enclosed by granite ramparts and the facilities of a holiday resort and water-sports centre.
Emañ Konk-Kerne, gant he c’hreiz-kêr istorel ramparzhioù greunvaen en-dro dezhañ, a-hed unan eus kaerañ baeoùh Breizh. Kresket eo tro-dre d’ar porzh diazezet war ijnerezh ar pesketaerezh en XIXvet kantved. Pa’z eer da-heul an traoñiennoù e weler livioù Konk-Kerne o vont eus glas da glas-gwer dre ur skenliad maezieù disheñvel. Ur gêr da zegas c’hoant da zistanañ so.
Meneget eo Konk-Kerne abaoe an XIIIvet kantved. Da gentañ e voe diazezet kêr e-kreiz un ouf, war un enezennig a voe savet mogerioù-kreñv en-dro dezhi abred a-walc’h. Akempennet e voent meur a wech. Ouzhpenn or gêr difenn e oa Konk-Kerne uI lec’h a ranked tremen drezañ evit mont eus Kemperle da Gamper. Er gêr gloz ec’h adkever an daou du-se eus Konk-Kerne: a-dreñv ar mogerioù difenn emañ an tiez-annez koshañ. En XlXvet kantved e voe krouet friturioù a-leizh ha mont a reas ar boblañs war greskiñ, da-heul kement-se e kreskas ar c’harterioù war ar ribloù tost ac’hano; deuet eo tres kêr e-maez ar gêr gloz diwar an istor stag ouzh ar greanterezh hag ar vicherourien. Gallont a reer gwelet an doare m’eo bet kempennet ar porzhh e mirdi ar Pesketaerezh. En XXvet kantved e voe unanet Konk-Kerne gant dlv gumun nes: Beuzeg-Konk e 1945 ha Lanrieg e 1959. Da-heul al labourioù a zo bet kaset da benn nevez zo e kreiz-kêr eo bet lakaet glad ar savouriezh, hag a vez oc’h emdreiñ dibaouez, war wal en e splannañ.
Mont a reer tre er gêr gloz dre ur pont bihan hag a stag an enezennig ouzh an douar bras. War droad e vez graet anaoudegezh gant ar c’hreñvlec’h-se eus ar re gaerañ, ddav eo krapat batek an hent-ged toullet e-barzh ar ramparzhioù tev pe mont da vale er straed Vauban etre an tiez o fignonoù, hag er straedigoù a gas war-zu ar c’hostezioù. E karter an Treizh-Lanrieg pe e kreiz-kêr ez eus troiadoù all ma c’haller gwelet birvilh ar porzh ha bed ar mor. Ar c’haeoù hag ar straedoù zo evel testenioù eus ar mare ma veze graet berzh gant ar friturioù. Diouzh an no0z e vez diskouezet mat tres kêr gant gouleier staliet a-ratozh.
Stretching along one of Brittany’s most beautiful bays, Concarneau, today embraces the historic heart of the town lying within a ring of granite ramparts. As one of the towns benefiting from the 19th-century fishing industry, it developed around the harbour. Following the valley contours; it moved away from seascape to landscape acquiring its own range of idyllic rural settings. Concarneau is a town which invites relaxation.
Concarneau first appear on record in the 13th century when it was established on a tiny island in the heart of the bay. It was soon enclosed by impressive ramparts, which were subsequently altered in successive phases. A fortified town, Concarneau was also a key crossing point on the route from Quimperle to Quimper. The defensive architecture arising from it dual role encircles the oldest dwellings in the settlement. The 19th century proliferation of canning factories and demographic expansion were behind the development of the areas on the Iandward banks. The architecture of the town outside the wall is therefore the result of its industrial and working past and the layout of the harbour at the time can be viewed in the Musée de Pêche (fisheries museum). In the 20th century, Concarneau joined forces with its two neighbouring communes — Beuzec-Conq in 1945 and Lanriec in 1959. Recent building work in the town centre is aimed at enhancing its continually evolving architectural heritage.
Entry to this amazing town is via a little bridge that joins the islet to the mainland. This gem of a fortification needs to be explored on toot, starting by tackling the parapet carved in the thick ramparts or by strolling along the Rue Vauban, lined with gabled houses, and in the adjoining little back-streets. In the Le Passage district and in the centre of the town, other trails highlight interesting features of the port and the coast. The prosperity of the canning factories has stamped its mark on the quays-ides and street in the evening, there are lighting effects that pick out the outline of the town.
As you enter Ville Close, you will find the Musée de
la Pèche (open daily: mid-June to mid-Sept 9.30am–8pm; mid-Sept to mid-June 9.30am–12.30pm & 2–6pm; €6), which provides an interesting insight into the traditional life Concarneau shared with so
many other Breton ports, illustrating the history and practice of catching whales, tuna – with dragnets the size of central Paris – herring and sardines. In the courtyard is “Commandant Garreau”, a
lifeboat built in 1894, whilst beside Tour du Major, a trawler “Hémérica”, decommissioned in 1981, is moored, climb aboard and relive the hardships of the fishermen.The ramparts, very akin to the
citadel at La Palais on Belle-Île, were constructed by Vauban during the 17th century. However the history of the island dates back more than a thousands years, some saying that it was the site of a
priory founded by King Gradlon of Quimper.
Guided tours of Ville Close are available on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, in the off- season at a cost of 4, 50€ per person. Cyrille Maguer, your guide, will explain the history of the fortifications during your tour which includes a visit to “La Tour du Major (15th- century)” and the traders’ houses dating from the 17th century as well as giving you an insight into the lives of the seamen and merchants of that era. Should you wish to avail yourself of this guided tour, please contact Cyrille:
The town boasts that it is a “Ville Fleurie”, and flowers are very evident inside the walls, where climbing roses and clematis swarm all over the various gift shops, restaurants and Crêperies. If you walk to the far end of the central pedestrianized street and pass through a gateway (Porte du Passage) to the shoreline, you can sit and watch the passing fishing boats. In summer, however, the best views of all come from the walkway on top of the ramparts, however as there are no railings; a walk along the ramparts is TOTALLY UNSUITABLE for young children. Open daily from 15th April until 31st October, admission is FREE except between 15th June until 15th September when there is a small charge; €0.80. Please note that access to the ramparts may be prohibited during adverse weather conditions and during Fête des Filets Bleus.
Between the 15th and 19th August the town holds the annual Fête des Filets Bleus (Festival of the Blue
Nets). The festival named after the traditional blue nets of Concarneau's fishing fleet, is a celebration of Breton and pan-Celtic culture. Such festival can occur throughout Brittany but the Filets
Bleus is one of the oldest and largest attracting in excess of a thousand costumed participants: Velvet dresses, the rustle of Satin, the lightness of laces, the sparkle of Pearls and embroidery.
This is Bretagne’s finery at its best, add to this the sound of the bagpipes and bombards, the drum rolls and you know the Filets Bleus are back.
Your next port of call has got to be the harbour, especially Port de Pêche where you can have a guided tour with Simon Allain, a former fisherman. You will see the unloading of different species of fishes and crustaceans, visit canneries, have the opportunity to climb onboard a trawler that has just returned to port and visit the fish auction (La Criée), an experience that should not be missed.
Contact Simon at:
22, quai criée (100 m from the Tourism Office)
Tel : 02 98 50 55 18 – 06 22 63 20 24
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tours are arranged, depending on the visit of your choice: 9:30, 10:30 am, 5:00 and 9:30 pm. We consider the best time is 5:30 pm.
Another way to see Concarneau is onboard the “Little Train”, a 40 minute tour that takes in the harbour, Ville Close and much of the resort area. Along the promenade you will have a beautiful view on the Glenan islands. A paper commentary is a available in English, German, Italian and Spanish
Concarneau was also the setting for Belgian mystery writer Georges Simenon's 1931 novel Le Chien jaune (The Yellow Dog),featuring his celebrated sleuth Maigret.
Situated high above the town on the right bank of the Moros River is Château de Kériolet (Kériolet meaning in Breton house of the light or sun house), a true jewel of the architecture of the 19th century.
With its origins dating back to the 15th century, the Manoir de Kériolet was modified by the diocesan architect Joseph Bigot at the end of the 19th century for the Russian Princess Zenaïde NARISCHKINE-YOUSSOUPOV, who financed the construction of this superb neo-gothic building for her second husband, Count Charles of CHAUVEAU, aide de camp to Napoléon III, who she met in Paris.
When she died in 1893, her will bequeathed the Château to the Department of the Finistère. However, this legacy came with some very specific conditions: all had to remain in the same condition as at the time of her death. Another clause insisted that she was to be buried in Russia with her ancestors, which was done. In return for these conditions being met, she gave the estate of 45 hectares, the Château and the exquisite collections of Earthenware, Chinese Porcelain, Bassinoires, Jewellery and Tapestries she had collected.The Department converted the estate into a museum between 1893 and 1957.
In the course of the 20th century, the Château had many owners including the great-grandson of the princess, Prince Félix Youssoupov (famous in European History as the instigator and one of the assassins of Rasputin), who returned to France in 1948 and claimed that the will had been disrespected, taking the opportunity to reclaim the Château. Ten years on, having decimated the collections, he claimed that the Château was too much of a burden to manage and that it was ugly. – over the next few years it became a ruin, being left open to the wind, the gardens pillaged and the chapel dismantled by the mayor of Beuzec-Conq with the white granite being sold to build a new house in Concarneau. 1987 saw the coup de grace for the Château, a hurricane with 220 km/h winds. Windows were blown in, the roof was ripped off, floors collapsed, it was now an abandoned ruin.
Today, it is in the care of LA FONDATION DU PATRIMOINE and listed in L'Inventaire Supplémentaire des Monuments Historiques.
Open everyday 10.30 am - 1 pm/2 pm - 6 pm, except Saturdays, June to September.