The beautiful harbor city of Douarnenez!

Moving right along the coast of upper or north Brittany we came to this wonderful town not expecting much got a lot out of it. We are enjoying great weather in Brittany! Here is my update post on Douarnenez.

Douarnenez is in the Finistère department 29 in Bretagne/Brittany. It still retains the reputation of a large sardine port, although the vagaries of sardines, over time, have resulted in a diversification of once-seasonal fisheries as well as in other economic sectors. It is also an important marina of Finistère with Tréboul and Port-Rhu. This is the city in which the Kouign-Amann Breton dessert was invented. The town was enlarged in 1945 by merging with the neighboring towns of Ploaré, Pouldavid and Tréboul, and is now known as the city of the three ports (Port-Rhu, Port of Rosmeur, and Port de Plaisance).

Douarnenez is located 600 km west of Paris, 250 km north-west of Nantes and 25 km north-west of Quimper, at the bottom of the Bay of Douarnenez, and is part historically of the Cornouaille. Tristan Island, which is located about 50 meters from the coast, is accessible on foot, during low tides with a strong coefficient. There is a mansion, a lighthouse and a fort. Tristan Island now belongs to the Conservatory of the coast.

N 165   Nantes to Brest expressway partially 4 lanes between Quimper and Douarnenez. The D 7 connects Douarnenez to Châteaulin. There is no train station.  It is at 121 km from my house.

The city, nestled at the bottom of a harmoniously curved bay, deploys its colorful and picturesque facades that have attracted many artists such as Auguste Renoir, Eugène Boudin, Maurice Boitel, Emmanuel Lansyer, and Roberto Cedrón…etc.

The name of Douarnenez  would come from the Breton expression Douar an girl up (the land of the island) as the site dependent on Tristan Island. The name Douarnenectz appears for the first time in 1505 it is necessary to wait to 1118 to find a name on the island. It was on this date that the bishop of Cornouaille, Robert de Locuon donated in 1121 to the monks of the Abbey Tourangelle de Marmoutier of his small island of Saint Tristan.

At the time of the Wars of the League (1576-1598), the Bandit Guy Éder de la Fontenelle took advantage of the situation to brigand Brittany and more particularly the Cornouaille and the region of Douarnenez. Tristan Island was his base. The consensus of putting at the end of the wars of religion sees him even being given the governance of the island. Finally convinced of guilty of providing intelligence to the Spaniards and without forgetting the memory of its massacres, he was severely beaten to death in September 1602.

Dom Michel Le Nobletz lived in Douarnenez from 1617 to 1639, in a house close to the present St. Michael’s Chapel, built between 1663 and 1665 under the influence of the preacher Julien Maunoir . The 64 paintings adorning the ceiling of the chapel were painted between 1667 and 1675 (and completed in 1692): They represent scenes of the Passion of Christ, of the Life of the Virgin, of the Evangelists and of the Doctors of the Church, and are occasions of the taolennoù (teaching of Christian values by figures andn portraits) by Michel Le Nobletz

It was only in 1790 that Douarnenez became an independent municipality (70 ha only), to the detriment of Ploaré, which it had hitherto depended on, and even the capital of the county. Douarnenez, a former truce of Ploaré, became a religious branch of Ploaré and became an independent parish in 1875.

The rise of the sardine fishery continued in the first half of the 19C and by 1860, Douarnenez had fished 300 million sardines, half of which is cooked in oil in the “Fried Foods” style before being put into cans still in good part pressed, with the exception of those that are sold fresh. In 1900, Douarnenez was the first French coastal fishing port.

Douarnenez, as well as Camaret-sur-Mer, specializes in lobster fishing: In 1960, Douarnenez had about thirty yearly call ships (it was then the 2nd French port of lobster fishing behind Camaret-sur-Mer), Mostly built in the two aforementioned ports; The fishermen were going to fish the lobster (the green lobster and the pink lobster) off the coast of Mauritania and were for this reason referred to as “Mauritanians”: they were wooden vessels 26 to 35 m long and 8 m wide that were between 250 and 350 tonnes of gross tonnage and generally had a crew of 13 men, with vessels averaging out for three months. In 2011 this made Douarnenez the 3rd French port by the tonnage of fish landed that year behind Boulogne-sur-Mer and Lorient.

In 2015, only two industrial canneries survived in the city of Penn Sardin: Cannery Paulet, which sells its products under the brand name Petit Naviere and which is located in the industrial zone of Pouldavid and the Cannery Chancerelle (the Maison Chancerelle would be the oldest cannery of sardines in the world still in operation), which has just left its historic factory on the port of Rosmeur to settle in the industrial zone of Lannugat, near the Cobreco, which Chancerelle repurchased in 2013; The Cobreco is the largest French group in the market for the canned scallops and tuna and is the result of the merger of two former canneries of Douarnenez: J. J. and Gourlaouen. An artisanal and family cannery, Kerbriant, also exists in the industrial zone of Lannugat. Currently, there are three industrial plants that have been able to grow, and are canning 70% of the French tuna Paulet (Petit Naviere), Cobreco (with its brands Arok and Jasc, it is the leader of the canned scallops and tuna Made in France) and Chancerelle (Brand Le Connétable)

The fishermen’s village of the Plomarc’h dates from the beginning of the 19C and has houses, with walls of granite stones coated with a whitewash of lime, have a ground in clay and were Initially covered with rye stubble before being slated. All the houses turned their backs to the sea, in order to protect themselves from the north wind. The openings were small and so it was dark at the interior. The village of Plomarc’h, with its penty houses and its breathtaking view of the bay, the port’s longboats, the beaches of the reef and the white sands, attracted many painters throughout the second half of the 19C and 20C; such as Jules Breton, Emmanuel Lansyer, Eugène Boudin, Maxime Maufra, Paul Sérusier, Charles Cottt, Paul Signac, Henri Matisse and many Scandinavian painters; Later, in the course of the 20C, Mathurin Méheut, Pierre de Belay, Maurice le Scouëzec, Émile Simon, Louis-Marie Désiré-Lucas. As well as Poets and writers have also been drawn here, such as José Maria de Heredia, Jean Richepin, Jules Breton, and Max Jacob.

The city has three ports: the Rosmeur, a fishing port with auction, managed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Quimper Cornouaille, inaugurated in 1958 in its present form; Port-Rhu (former Ria de Pouldavid) where the museum port is based, inaugurated in 1992; The marina in Tréboul.. In 1912)  the Douarnenez sailor’s shelter is inaugurated. During WWI it housed a unit of the 151st Infantry Regiment. The shelter closed in 1971, but now houses the publishers of the magazine Chasse-Marée. The monument to the Fallen of Douarnenez, built in 1919, bears the names of 389 soldiers and sailors who died for France during WWI.

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At Port Rhu on the quays there is a nice maritime museumMaritime museum of Douarnenez

douarnenez

The victims of   WWII from Douarnenez were numerous. On Friday, August 4, 1944 in the morning, the false news of the liberation of Quimper reaches Douarnenez; Spontaneously many inhabitants began to see their windows in the Allied colors. The FFI of Douarnenez (resistance fighters) take control of the siege of the Nazis customs installed in the premises of the Vallombreuse and barricades are built in Ploaré. Several casualty fights take place in the early afternoon in the vicinity of place Paul-Stéphazn. The Nazis finally left town on August 8, 1944 after detonating their stockpiles of ammunition.

Port-Rhu was the starting point for two boats bound for England: the My gondola as of June 18, 1940, the day of the call of 18 June. Pilot students of the Le Mans Elementary pilotage aviation school, led by Reserve Lieutenant Pinot , embarked on 18 June 1940 aboard the Trébouliste, a lobster boat equipped with an auxiliary engine, led by François Lelguen they arrived in Falmouth on June 20, 1940 and helped to form the first nucleus of the future Free French Air Force (36 of them perished in air fights during WWII.

Things to see

The Port-Rhu, a veritable conservatory of ancient boats, and the Port museum , which illustrates the maritime life of Douarnenez. In 1993, it was inaugurated the Port-Museum of Port-Rhu, but the Port-museum had to close in 1995 due to lack of financial resources because it did not attract enough visitors. The Port-Museum opens again at the beginning of the year 2 000, with a more important budget ,see webpage and photo above. Here is the port Rhu

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New halls (the Halles) were built in Douarnenez in 1871 at the site of a previous building that had become too cramped; Built on the floor, they were raised one story at the beginning of the 1930’s decade to set up the festive hall which opened in 1934; It was decorated by six painters who painted frescoes there. The decor of the festive hall of Douarnenez, above the old halls dating from the 19C, was entrusted, on the initiative of the mayor of the time Daniel Le Flanchec, to six painters: Abel Villard, Robert Paulo Villard , Lionel, Jim Sévellec, Gaston Paul, Maurice Le Scouëzec, who made 16 oils on toile, and were completed in 1938

Tristan Island: Accessible on foot at low tide when the tidal coefficients exceed 90, the island is managed by the Coastal conservatory, accessible to the public only on authorization or on certain days of the year and supervised by a guard. Its exotic garden houses 358 different floral species and protected animal species live on the island like the Quimper snail, the tawny owl or several species of bats.

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The Plomarc’h, natural and historical site: The Plomarc’h are now a protected site of 16 hectares, acquired by the city of Douarnenez, the Department of Finistère and the Conservatoire du littoral. The town maintains a natural space open to the public, which includes in particular an educational farm that breeds farm animals of the Breton races and cultivates among other things black wheat. Afforestation is made up of the traditional trees of the region (chestnut, beech, oak)..

The Church of St. James  (14-15C): Built on the hillside, the church features a nave with 14C arcades, a 15C porch, and a 16C choir. The vault of the choir is adorned with sixteen 16C painted panels retracing scenes of Passion, but only fragments remain. The church contains several ancient statues, including a Piétà (late 17C) on a stone altar.

The Church of the Sacred Heart  in Gothic style, it was built between 1874 and 1877; However, its arrow was only completed in 1939. Its furniture dates back to the end of the 19C.

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The Chapel of St. John at Tréboul dates from the 18C, but with a re-use of a previous building dating from the 15C, especially for the windows. Its high altar in polychrome wood dates back to the 18C. It has ancient statues of polychrome wood of the Immaculate Conception, an angel of the Annunciation, two worshipping Angels, Saint John the Baptist, etc. It served as a parish church between 1841 and 1884. Its stained glass windows, set up between 1986 and 1988. A mutilated Calvary dating from the 17C is located at a nearby crossroads.

douarnenez

The Church of St. Herlé of Ploaré (16-18C): The construction of the church began around 1548 as attested by an inscription once visible at the base of the tower; The spire was built in several stages in the course of the 17C. The whole thing is Gothic Cornish style. But the tower and its arrow were rebuilt several times, probably after partial destruction due to lightning, hence their composite character. The sacristy dates from the 18C.

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The Chapelle Saint-Michel is located 50 meters from the Port-Musée and the library; An earlier chapel of the same name is mentioned in 1312, but the present chapel was built between 1663 and 1668 at the site of the house where the preacher Michel le Nobletz had lived; Its baroque-style furnishings, among others a chested column altarpiece, dates back to the 17C. The chapel is best known for the paintings of its panelling which illustrate in 52 panels the taolennoù of Michel Le Nobletz, representing the mysteries, guardian angels, etc.

The Chapel of St. Helena on the Port of Rosmeur dates from the 17C, but was very revamped in the 18C. It comprises a nave of three bays with aisles, a high altar and two side altars with altarpieces dating back to the 18C and numerous statues. Two stained glass windows date from the 16C are probably due to a Spanish artisan

The statue of the Bolomig, at the place Gabriel Péri. This statue, dating from 1860 and overlooking a public fountain, is somewhat the emblem of Douarnenez. Its name originates from Bolomig Tal ar Groas in Breton ( “Little Man of the square of the Cross”, name that was the square at the time). Unbolted in 1932 to make way for parking, it was reinstalled in 1990. This is a copy of the original which is now in the hallway of the City hall of Douarnenez.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and one you should are

City of Douarnenez on heritage

Tourist office of Douarnenez

Tourist office of Brittany on Douarnenez

And there you go another wonderful spot in the Finistére of my lovely Brittany the 3rd most visited region of France after Paris and PACA! Enjoy it

And remember as well, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

4 Comments to “The beautiful harbor city of Douarnenez!”

  1. We are hoping to visit Finistère after Christmas This looks very nice, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is just so much to see in France! I love your country, just wish it wasn’t so far from Australia!

    Liked by 1 person

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