Top 5 sights for first-timers
This glorious example of Gothic art is famous for its crooked nave. The spires and statue of legendary founder of Quimper King Gradlon are 19th-century additions, scaled by a local to fly the French flag as the Germans were driven out in 1944. Inside the cathedral, look out for the statue (and skull) of Santig Du, Quimper’s ‘Little Black Saint’.
Musée Départmental Breton
The superb Musée Départemental Breton has an exquisite selection of items illustrating the history of the Finistère region. The museum is housed in an elegant building that was erected adjoining the cathedral in the 16th century and later restored after a fire. Even a glimpse into the public entrance reveals the original 17th-century kitchen.
1 rue du Roi-Gradlon
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper
The city’s art gallery has Breton-themed paintings downstairs, with a room of legendary subjects including the submersion of the mythical town of Ys (the Breton Atlantis), and the bizarre nocturnal washerwomen who lure travellers on the moors to their deaths. The Max Jacob room has a fascinating collection about the Quimper-born artist and his illustrious friends Cocteau and Kit Wood.
40 place Saint-Corentin
Faïencerie Henriot Quimper
Opposite the Romanesque church of Notre-Dame in the Locmaria district, this is the last working outfit in an area where pottery has been produced since Roman times. You can go on a factory tour to see hand-painting of famous Quimper designs and visit the large shop.
Place Bérardier, Locmaria
Once the site of Celtic burials and Revolutionary executions, this green hill behind the tourist office is now a quiet haven for picnics and great views over the town. Midsummer’s day is celebrated by a musical extravaganza below on the Plateau de la Déesse, where the goddess Reason was once honoured.
Top 5 sights for old hands
Les Macarons de Philomène
A famous shop in an ancient house with its statue of ‘Philomène’ on high often has queues along the street for its remarkable range of delicious macarons in all colours of the rainbow. Try very Breton flavours like salted caramel and Plougastel strawberry or more exotic seasonal specials.
13 rue Kéréon
Passerelle Max Jacob
This metalwork footbridge was erected in 1994 for the 50th anniversary of poet and artist Max Jacob’s death. Born in Quimper, the artist went on to join the demi-monde of Montmartre, in the circle of Picasso and Modigliani. Tragically, he died in the German camp at Drancy during WWII. When the water is low, look for Modigliani’s portrait etched under the bridge.
Rue René Madec
This street is named after the 18th-century humbly-born son of Quimper who became a soldier of exceptional bravery in the Indian army and was made a Nabob for his services to the Grand Mogul. A painted panel portrays this unusual rise to fame and fortune.
Passage de l’Épée
A curiosity on the riverside rue du Parc where the famous Hotel de L’Épée once played host to many political figures. Follow the covered passageway right through to see an eclectic collection of Quimper memorabilia displayed in glass cases, from old LPs, lace headdresses and drawings of the medieval city, to photos of the interwar years.
Rue du Parc
Théâtre de Cornouaille
Famed for its cultural offerings, the theatre is also worth a look for its modernist, industrial-style architecture. Built in 1996, it combines the Brazilian hardwood Ipe with concrete and steel. The contemporary art gallery Le Quartier, with many innovative exhibitions, is nearby.
1 esplanade François Mitterrand