We visited Quimper on two rainy days so the photographs are rather dull, but the weather didn’t dampen my delight in this historic town. Our guide on the first occasion was Wendy Mewes in her excellent new book of Walks in Finistère . We parked alongside the Odet River – ‘Quimper’ means the confluence of rivers, the Steir and Odet Rivers – and set off to follow her circular town walk with insights into local history.
The area around Quimper has been inhabited for thousands of years but we started exploring in the Middle Ages at the wonderful Saint-Corentin Cathedral, started in 1239 and continued into the 16C. The adjacent Bishop’s Palace is now the Departmental Museum of Brittany.
The Museum in the Bishop’s Palace is fascinating, with artifacts thousands of years old, Quimper pottery, and an exhibition of traditional Breton clothing.
Breton regional costumes are spectacular, and the tradition of embroidery continues in present times.
The Bishop controlled the town inside the walls, some of which are still in place together with the only remaining defensive tower, the 13C Tour de Névet. Near the Tower and just inside the walls is a newly created garden in what used to be a cathedral garden.
Outside the walls and beyond the Steir River was the Duke’s estate – Brittany was a Duchy. There are many pretty streets with timbered and half-timbered house – ideal for wandering!
The walk took us along the Odet River to Locmaria where the Romanesque Church of Notre Dame de Locmaria was quite startling in its austerity. The Church dates from the 11C, or perhaps earlier – it is certainly older than the Cathedral of St Corentin. If I understand correctly, this was first established as a male order but then (11C) came under the control of a woman, a Prioress.
A wonderful town in which to wander, and linger, and this walk was the first of two visits – this time!