Our closest city, one that we never tire of visiting, Quimper is the cultural and administrative capital of Finistère; it derives its name from kemper, the Breton word for confluent as the rivers Steir and Odet meet here and flow gently out to the ocean at nearby Bénodet.
These rivers wend their way through the town criss-crossed by a myriad of bridges each adorned with bold colourful displays of flowers.
The skyline of the old town is dominated by the flamboyant gothic Quimper Cathedral, properly known as La Cathédral Saint Corentin de Quimper; we’re talking ancient here – construction started in the 13th century.
The cathedral is also hauntingly beautiful at night…
The city, once the ancient capital of Cornouaille, found wealth in the production of Faïence, the art of tin glazed hand-painted pottery, in the early 1700’s. Quimper faïence is still made and can be found in the boutiques of the old town, some of the older rarer items being valuable collectors pieces, although the inevitable tourist tat is widely available.
There’s performance to be found on the street corners from traditional Breton entertainment to jazz improv…
While the supermarkets, diy stores and the like encircle the town on outlying retail parks, in the centre there is a plethora of independent shops and some popular high street brands with just one small charming department store from the Eurodif chain.
Each Saturday there is a market selling fresh produce from the local area and of course the inevitable rotisserie stall, the aroma from which drifts through the marketplace tantalising the tastebuds. Hard to resist.
Another must visit is the rather delightful emporium known as Maison Georges Larnicol, originally from Brittany and now with stores in Paris and beyond, Georges Larnicol is one of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. Here you’ll find exquisite chocolate delicacies along with macarons and his signature kouignettes, miniature, caramelised versions of the classic Kouign amann.
Their mouthwatering desserts are served at the Restaurant Le Petit Gaveau located just up the street from the store. Another one of our favourite restaurants is L’Anchoiade, Quimper which we discovered one very busy New Year’s eve, the house speciality being the exceptional Parilladas – for more details of both see the eat here section of my site.
We’ve stayed overnight on several occasions, the Escale Oceania is a popular option for us, it’s just a stones throw from the old town and is one of the more pet-friendly hotels in the area.
Of course no visit to Quimper can be complete without sampling a delicious sweet or savoury Crêpe, a true Breton staple and always a good reason for a return visit!