Quimper, town of art and history
Stands at a confluence and crossing at the head of an estuary, two thousand-year old town of Gallo-Roman origin.
Located by the river Odet, Quimper has always been a sheltered place and a crossing point. As far back as the roman conquest a small urban center settled round a port opened to the mediterranean world, downstream from the actual town.
An episcopal town
Later Breton immigrants chose to settle upstream, on the confluent (Kemper in Breton language). The choice of Quimper as an episcopal town contributed to its developement. as it was already the residence of the powerful Count of Cornouaille. Since the 13th Century the building of the cathedral and the belt of walls have structured yhe town. The construction of the cathedral which lasted many centuries made it one of the major building in gothic art in Brittany.
In the 16th century Brittany became part of France with a royal administration which led to the building of private hotels, and in the following century by the construction of many convents related to the catholic reform. Nevertheless the town remained a town of merchants and shipowners who built timbered or stoned houses.
Quimper... 3 ancient towns
The original site of Quimper :
Locmaria's quarter, the 12th century roman church (one of the oldest building in Finistère), the ancient priory and the medieval garden.
The bishop's town :
The ancient bishop's palace houses, the Breton Musuem, the down defences (40% left of the original walls), the cobble stoned streets of the Episocpal town with half timbered houses with each street a reminder of ancient trades : rue des Boucheries (butcher's street) ; place au Beurre (butter square), rue Kéréon ( shoemaker's street)...
The ducal town :
The attractive houses of Place Terre au Duc, St Mathieu street and church with its beautiful stained windows, venelle au poivre (peper alley), rue René Madec...
The river Odet
It is when you go along the pleasant banks of the maritime river of the Odet that the eventful past of the town is revealed : Locmaria, at the foot of the step and legendary Mont Frugy, is the first Gallo-roman site, which after the year 1000 became a Benedictine priory dependency, then in 1690 a workers'quarter with earthenware factories.
The 19th century town with its harbour and administrative buildings lies along the banks of the Odet. As visitors will note, the quaysides are attractively laid out featuring numerous footbridges decorated with floral displays.