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7 treasures not to be missed in Quimper

Posted by Katy Peck on 25 March 2019
Related property: Manoir Du Hilguy
7 treasures not to be missed in Quimper

Just 20 minutes’ drive from Manoir du Hilguy, Quimper is a fantastic choice for a day trip. It’s the oldest city in Brittany, originally founded during Roman times, and is full of the history and personality of the region. The cities pottery industry gave it a dramatic boost in the 17th Century, and today it is still a hive of activity, bursting with life and plenty to do and explore during your visit.

You’re sure to find more than enough to keep you busy during a day in this fascinating city, from charming creperies to architectural gems. However, if you’re looking for a few tips, we’re here to help! We’ve put together a list of seven Quimper highlights that you won’t want to miss.

Quimper Cathedral

Often called the finest gothic construction in Brittany, Quimper Cathedral is a must-see during any visit to the city. Construction on the Cathedral started in the 12th Century, with the spires finally completing the building in 1856, making it the oldest Gothic structure in lower Brittany. The Cathedral was the site of a devastating fire in 1620, when the locals claimed to have seen a green devil in the flames of the burning bell tower.

There’s plenty of beautiful historical gems to pick out as you explore the building. Marvel at the colours of the stained-glass windows in the choir, and spot the mythic King Gradlon riding his horse between the magnificent spires. Quimper Cathedral is also beautiful in its imperfection – the building is unusual in that the North side of the nave curves inward. This was to avoid an area of swampy ground during construction, leaving the building with its unique shape.

Old Quimper

Quimper’s medieval quarter is completely pedestrianised. This, along with the charming old houses and artisan shops, makes it a truly delightful place to explore. Many of the houses are half-timbered, with a granite lower floor and corbelled upper storeys overhanging the street, all painted a different shade to stunning effect. It really does feel like travelling into the past!

The streets and squares of the medieval quarter are well-worth taking note of. Many are named for the historic trades of their residents – the lovely square of Place au Buerre was named for the butter churners, while Rue Kéréon comes from the shoemakers who once lived there. If you find yourself in need of refuelling after a few hours exploring, Place Saint-Corentin, located in the shadow of the cathedral, is great for a drink on a summer’s afternoon or evening.

Mont Frugy

If you head for the left bank of the Odet river, you’ll find a small 70-metre hill that climbs sharply through six hectares of beech forest. Head for the top and you’ll find yourself rewarded with some great views over the city, including the rooftops of the old town. It is said that during the Revolution, Quimper was briefly renamed “Montagne sur Odet” because of this small vantage point.

The Mont is actually younger than it appears! The hurricane which hit Western Europe in 1987 left the hill completely bare, but it was replanted and is now is a pleasant place to take a stroll. This is especially true during the summer months, when the Mont offers a welcome shady area full of lush, leafy trees and foliage, 

Festival de Cornouaille

For five days in July, Quimper takes a step back in time with the Festival de Cornouaille, one of the biggest cultural events in Brittany. The festival is a famous celebration of the diversity of Breton culture, having run for nearly ninety years with no hint of tiring. Full of colour, life and music, it's a fantastic experience if you’re lucky enough to visit.

The festival brings the atmospheric medieval quarter alive with musicians, street entertainers and even the odd bout of spontaneous dancing! There’s also a rich calendar of cultural events, including a bagpipe competition, concerts and dancing workshops. Not to be missed is the big parade of Breton folk costumes and the crowning of the Queen of the Festival.

Manoir du Kinkiz

Breton cider is famous, so if you’re a fan of the tipple and willing the make the short 5 km journey southeast of Quimper, then the Manoir du Kinkiz is a must-see. This authentic cider press is set among 30 hectares of orchards, where 21 varieties of apples are grown. During the tour, you will learn how Cournouaille AOC cider is pressed, aged in oak barrels and bottled. You will also have the opportunity to taste the famous brew, as well as Lambig (apple brandy aged up to 25 years) and pommeau, a Breton drink made with a blend of apple juice and Lambig. Children are also welcome, and will be treated to fresh apple juice.

Jardin de la Retraite

You’ll find Jardin de la Retraite beside Quimper’s eastern ramparts. The subtropical garden harks back to the 16th-Century voyagers, who returned from the New Land with plant species completely new to the country. They quickly discovered that the Breton climate meant that almost all these plants were able to thrive, and so the area became known for acclimatising exotic species.

As you wander through the garden, you could be forgiven for forgetting you’re in Brittany at all. An oasis bursting with life, colour and texture, there’s so much to see and discover, from camellias and rhododendrons to yuccas and aloes. The garden is separated into four sections, including a tropical garden, a grove of palm trees, a dry garden and more… there’s even a horse chestnut tree which is over 150 years old!

Musée de la Faïence

It was the pottery industry which caused Quimper’s economic boom in the 17th century, and it’s still known for its creations centuries later. Quimper’s pottery museum is a great stop to learn about the city’s relationship with this beautiful artform. The museum has 500 pieces on show, which are regularly rotated and updated thanks to their collection of over 2,000. Full of beautiful compositions, from historic scenes to abstract drawings, this compact museum is well worth exploring for an hour or two.

On top of the pottery museum, you’ll find several more institutions to explore during your trip to Quimper, including Musée des Beaux Arts. Take a look and see what you can find!

With all of this and more on offer within this beautiful, historical city, you’ll find it easy to fill a day drinking in Quimper's sights and atmosphere. However, once you’re done, Manoir du Hilguy is the perfect place to retreat and take the weight off your feet. With elegant apartments and cosy cottages, it’s the perfect place to relax and drink in the scenery at the end of a long day.

To learn more about how you can join us and enjoy one of our properties during your next break, get in touch.

Katy Peck

Katy Peck

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