Manoir du Hilguy

Brittany, France

Quimper Town Walk walking and hiking route

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Walk Instructions

1. Start at the car park to the north of the centre, accessed by following the directions provided by Hilguy management. Head slightly downhill towards the centre. The road is the Boulevard de Moulin au Duc, but a path immediately to the left of the road stays close to the side of the little River Steir for much of the distance.

Pass a mill weir before reaching the Place Médard.

Here we are at the edge of the original ‘Bishop’s Town’, an area tightly drawn around the cathedral in medieval times, defended by a great wall and a drawbridge over the River Steir at this point.

A surviving part of the wall, with a neat turret, is visible.

2. Turn left to enter the heart of the old town, heading along Rue Kéréon towards the cathedral. The streets are all pedestrianised and all contain attractive old buildings. The suggested route is quite arbitrary; in wandering at will no one is likely to go far astray. Rue Kéréon has fair claim to be the finest of these old streets, with half timbered buildings and the much photographed view to the cathedral.

3. Turn left at the Place Maubert to rise along the Rue des Boucheries, then take the second turning on the right - the Rue du Sallé. The Place Maubert has a wonderful building on the corner. Rue du Sallé is noted for a particularly good crêperie, Crêperie du Sallé, followed by another crêperie in the adjacent Place au Beurre, also recommended and with the possible advantage of outside seating.

4. Continue, soon turning right to reach the large square - the Place Laënnec. To the left is the Musée des Beaux Arts, a small Italian style palace of 1867, with attractive modern extension, housing a fine collection of paintings, better than might be expected in a small provincial city. Of particular interest are the ground floor rooms containing predominantly large 19th century Breton local scenes - pardons, seascapes and illustrations of legends such as King Gradlon and the lost city of Ys. Following the disaster at Ys, now supposedly beneath the waves in Douarnenez Bay, Gradlon built his new capital at what is now Quimper. There is also a group of 17th and 18th century Flemish and Dutch paintings and a collection from the Pont Aven school. Next door to the museum is the modest town hall.

Across the square from the museum is Quimper’s greatest building. The cathedral church of St Corentin was started in the 13th century but not finished until the 19th, when the twin spires, blending wonderfully well with the older work, were completed. Ten years of restoration ended in 1999, resulting in the pristine appearance, with a striking modern sanctuary, which we now see. Most odd is the 11 degree non-alignment of nave and choir, said to result from a miscalculation of the position of the contiguous Bishop’s Palace. Guided architectural and historical tours are provided.

The former palace of the Bishops of Cornouaille was also constructed over a long period, in this case the 16th to 19th centuries. The building is now occupied by the Breton Museum, with a unique collection of regional artifacts ranging from the pre-historic to local dress and furniture up to the 1930’s. From the front of the Breton Museum, a road train provides tours around the city.

5. Almost opposite the west door of the cathedral, walk along the lower part of the Rue Kéréon, particularly rich in lovely old overhanging half timbered buildings. Don’t miss the carved figures at first floor level, one over a tea shop. Turn left at the Place Maubert to continue along Rue St François. The Rue St François forms one end of the square which contains a large modern covered market, with additional outdoor stalls on market days (Wednesday and Saturday). Walk past (or through) the market hall and turn left at the far end into Quai du Steir, then left again to head for the riverside, where the Odet is crossed by several flower-bedecked bridges.

6. Cross the river towards the prominent Tourist Information Office, where extra town maps and detailed information such as the opening days and house of museums etc. are available. Turn right to walk for almost ½ mile by the side of the river, with a main road on the left, heading for the suburb of Locmaria. As the road bends to the left, fork right to reach the Place du Stivell, then the Rue J.B. Bousquet, now very much in the pottery district. On the right, by the river, us the Musée de la Faï, where the 300 year history of pottery in Quimper is set out in a former pottery works. On the left is the factory/workshop building of the surviving company, H.B. Henriot. Shops selling the products are situated at the far end. Tours of the factory are available, with more restricted hours (check at T.I.C.). Across the Place Bérardier, the 11th century Romanesque Notre Dame de Locmaria is one of Brittany’s oldest religious buildings. Beside the church is a former Benedictine priory, which has been restored.

7. For a different kind of return to the Tourist Information Office, walk past the front of the H.B. Henriot building and cross the main road in about 150 yards. Rake back up a rising minor road (or use the little flight of steps). A few yards up the road turn left, up a great many steps. On approaching a seat, turn left up more steps and continue to rise steeply, on a tarmac path. You are well on the way to climbing Mont Frugy, the wooded hill which dominates the south side of the town. In less than 100 yards turn left again, at a vehicular barrier. The track now rises more gently through the trees and rhododendrons, across rather than up the hillside. Go straight on at junctions; there are occasional views over the town through gaps in the foliage. At a junction with a seat, turn sharply left to descend to the T.I.C.

8. Cross the river and carry on along the Rue René Madec to the Place Terre au Duc, a fine little square with a leaning old building.

(For an addition to the basic tour, a left turn into Rue St Mathieu leads to the 19th century church of St Mathieu. Cross a main road (Rue de Falkirk) to reach the Théâ de Cornouaille and the adjacent outwardly unprepossessing Centre d’Art Contemporain, used for temporary exhibitions.

9. Cross back over the Rue de Falkirk and return to Place Médard along the Rue du Chapeau Rouge). Turn left to return to the car park.

Without the addition, go straight ahead through the Place Terre au Duc to the Place Médard and continue by the side of the Steir to return to the car park.

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Disclaimer: This route was correct at time of writing. However, alterations can happen if development or boundary changes occur, and there is no guarantee of permanent access. These walks have been published for use by site visitors on the understanding that neither HPB Management Limited nor any other person connected with Holiday Property Bond is responsible for the safety or wellbeing of those following the routes as described. It is walkers' own responsibility to be adequately prepared and equipped for the ‎level of walk and the weather conditions and to assess the safety and accessibility of the walk.

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