PLOEMEUR (Pop: 17,900)
Remarkable for its important megalithic and religious heritage but also for the exploitation of kaolin, Ploemeur houses on its soil the airport of Lorient-South Brittany as well as the naval aviation base of Lann-Bihoué, famous for its bagad, the most famous Breton music band in the world. Ploemeur is also the hometown of international footballer Yoann Gourcuff, whose father Christian coached FC Lorient from 2003 to 2014.
GUIDEL (Pop: 11,400)
Renowned for its beaches, Guidel is also one of the sites of the Côte des Megalithes (Megaliths Coast) with the best surfing spots. The town is also home to an important megalithic and religious heritage, including seven chapels that inspired a music festival (Festival of Seven Chapels in Art), celebrating its 19th edition in 2018. In the town can also be found the imposing Loch fort (1756), built after an invasion by the English and never used in war. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, and friend of the Tour de France, resided in Guidel, where a former member of the International Olympic Committee, Melchior de Polignac, is buried.
CLOHARS-CARNOËT (Pop: 4 200)
The lovely seaside resort is remarkable for its production of cider and for the small village of Le Pouldu, a favourite of the painters from the Pont-Aven School and of “Nabis” like Paul Serusier and Maurice Denis. The Museum House of Le Pouldu is a reconstitution of the “Buvette de la plage” an inn where Paul Gauguin and his painter friends stayed from 1889. The place was also visited by writer Andre Gide. A painters path runs across town showing the landscapes and sites they painted.
MOËLAN-SUR-MER (Pop: 6,900)
A favourite of painters like Maurice Assselin or writer Pierre Mac Orlan, Moelan was the birthplace of Leon Le Calvez, who took part in the 1931 and 1932 Tours de France. Winner of the Criterium National in 1923 and a Paris-Nice stage in 1935, he became a sports director and led the French Western team on the Tour between 1952 and 1956 with Jean Robic and Jean Mallejac as his main riders.
RIEC-SUR-BÉLON (Pop: 4,200)
Riec-sur-Bélon is above all renowned for its oysters and especially the Belon brand, a flat oyster grown in the oyster parks of the Belon river.
PONT-AVEN (Pop: 2,850)
Known for its windmills, the small town was “discovered’ in 1864 by American painter Henry Bacon, who loved it immediately because it was picturesque and cheap. He invited many American and British colleagues to visit him there. The “city of painters” was born. Jean-Léon Gérôme, a teacher at the Beaux-Arts school in Paris, also advised his pupils to get there: the small contingent of painters who settled in town quickly reached 50. A second wave of artists came to Pont-Aven in the 1880s, including Paul Gauguin, who stayed at the Gloanec guesthouse. Al those painters, led by Armand Jobbé-Duval and Paul Sérusier formed the so-called Pont-Aven School. The locals quickly realised the benefits of such an invasion and welcomed the visitors. This artistic vocation led to the creation of a Museum of Fine-Arts in 1985. Pont-Aven is also known for its “galettes” (cakes) sold under the brand Traou-Mad (good things in Breton) and whose recipe dates back to the 1890s.
CONCARNEAU (19 200 hab.)
Concarneau is a living history book, in which 14th century fortifications stand side by side with seaside villas facing the ocean. The Closed City, an ancient Breton fortress, rests in the calm waters of the fishing port and the yachting harbour. It is the heart of Concarneau, which was fortified in the late 11th century and developed around the walls once it became too small. The town retained its 2.5 to 3 metres high rampart, its nine towers and three gates, all made of granite like the houses of the old town, built in narrow streets along with chapels now turned into cultural venues. The Closed City, which is mainly pedestrian, can only be reached by an old drawbridge. A small ferry links the old town to the Passage, the old fishing part of town. In the 19th century, the town grew outside of the walls thanks to the installation of fish factories – Concarneau had as many as 32 of those in the early 20th century. Sardine and tuna were the main fish processed in the local factories, which made seaside economy the leading source of wealth. Shipbuilding, especially for yachts and small boats, is now one of the main local industries. The Filets Bleus (Blue Nets) Festival and the start of the Ag2R Transatlantic Race are among the most famous events held in Concarneau. In 1982, the town hosted a Tour de France stage won by Belgian sprinter Pol Verschuere, already crowned two years previously on the Champs-Elysee. It is also the birthplace of Jean-Paul Ollivier, who told the history of the Tour de France to French television viewers for decades.
LA FORÊT-FOUESNANT (Pop: 3,300)
Anchored on a rich territory in the shade of fruit trees, facing the sea, La Foret Fouesnant is a town of good living and conviviality. The picturesque gardens of the traditional houses are scattered along flowery streets embracing the old port and the sandy beach. In the hart of the Forest Bay, in front of the Isles of Glenan, the town is an ideal viewpoint on this exceptional natural site. The local yachting port has become a stronghold of competitive sailing and a training base for famous skippers like Samantha Davies, Michel Desjoyeaux, Armel Le Cleac’h, Jean Le Cam, François Gabart and many more. The port can accommodate up to 1,130 yachts of all sizes, including the impressive 60 feet racing boats.
SAINT-GOAZEC (Pop: 730)
Château de Trévarez
Labelled as a 20th century Heritage Site, the estate of Trevarez is the work of a man, James de Kerjégu, born in Trevarez in 1846 and who died in 1908 before the construction of the chateau was completed. A rich local politician who spent a lot of time with the Parisian jet-set and nobility, he decide to provide the castle with the most modern equipment of the time. The luxurious castle was bombed and seriously harmed in WWII. It was restored and open the public as well as its remarkable gardens.
CHATEAUNEUF-DU-FAOU (Pop: 3,700)
Painter Paul Sérusier, founder of the Nabi movement, settled in Chateauneuf du Faou in 1893 and stayed there until his death in 1921. His house is still visible in the street that bears his name and a town circuit runs around the landscapes he painted. The project of a museum is underway. Chateauneuf du Faou is also the birthplace of former French international footballer Raymond Keruzore, who played for Rennes, Laval and Guingamp before managing Breton clubs.
CHATEAULIN (Pop: 5,200)
At the crossroads of some of the leading roads and railways in Brittany, the Finistere sub-prefecture is bathed and sometimes flooded by the river Aulne. It is know to the cyclist fan as the hometown of Boucles de l’Aulne, held since 1931. Bernard Hinault won the race a record four times. It was won in 2017 by Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking. The race includes the ascent of the Menez-Quelerc’h climb that the Tour de France peloton will ride at kilometre 159.5.
Four French championships were held in Châteaulin in 1955 (André Darrigade), 1957 (Valentin Huot), 1964 (Jean Stablinski) and 1986 (Yvon Madiot). The Tour de France stopped in town three times in 1958 (Charly Gaul), 1965 (Raymond Poulidor) and 1982 (Frank Hoste).
Châteaulin is also the birthplace of Camille Danguillaume, winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 1949 and killed in a crash in the 1950 French championship in Montlhery.
PLONÉVEZ-PORZAY (Pop: 1,780)
Southerner Lucien Teisseire, winner of Paris-Tours in 1944, Paris-Nice in 1946 and of four Tour de France stages in 1947 and 1954 settled in this Breton village in which he died in 2007. He also finished second in Paris-Roubaix in 1945 and in the 1946 Milan-San Remo behind Fausto Coppi.
LOCRONAN (Pop: 810)
The important architectural heritage of Locronan, preserved from an early time, made the village one of the most beautiful in Brittany. Locronan’s golden age was in the 16th century thanks when the local weavers manufactured the sails for large naval companies like the East India Company in Lorient. This past is evoked in the Museum of arts and history. Locronan belongs to the network of the “plus beaux villages de France”. From its splendour, the village retained a cobbled central square, the vast St Ronan church and granite Renaissance houses. Its remarkable state of preservation made it a famous setting for the cinema with films like Roman Polanski’s Tess or Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement.
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