Church of Saint Herlé at Douarnenez

So moving right along in my beautiful Brittany which as a whole can be told as an off the beaten path tourist destination in France. Even thus, it is the third most visited region by the French for vacation, the foreign visitors seems content with going back to the popular places. Brittany has a huge inventory of wonders with historically and architecturally gems such as the one showcase here.

Again briefly mention in my previous posts, I like to tell you a bit more on the Church of Saint Herlé in Douarnenez.


The Church of Saint-Herlé, or Saint Erlé, is located in the Ploaré district of Douarnenez, Finistére Dept 29 of the region of Brittany.  This church is recognized as the most beautiful church in Douarnenez, according to many folks in the region. What strikes above all in the Church of St Herlé is its superb Bell Tower, one of the most remarkable in the Cornish region. Situated on a height, in the center of the town, it dominates the whole country from its slender arrow, whose end rises more than 65 meters above the ground level.


douarnenez ch st herle right side dec13

The construction of the Church of St Herlé began around 1548 as evidenced by an inscription visible at the base of the Tower; the Spire was built in several stages during the 17C. The whole thing is of the Cornish Gothic style. But the tower and its spire were rebuilt several times, probably after partial destruction due to lightning, especially in 1751, hence their composite character. The sacristy dates from the 18C.


The Church of Saint-Herlé has hosted numerous sermons by the famous preacher DOM Michel Le Nobletz. A stained-glass window dating from 1902 depicts him leaving Douarnenez in front of his crying followers.  A bas-relief of the Church dating from the 16C represents sardines on which a gull is eaten them; it is a lasting testimony of the ancient importance of the sardine fishing industry in Brittany. And still big as the best is from there today and we buy them!


The high altar, from the 17C, is adorned with a double Tabernacle and a Retable with turrets. At the door of the lower Tabernacle, the lamb is lying on the Cross. At the upper Tabernacle we see a carved monstrance framed by two virtues. At the top appears the risen Christ. To the left and to the right of the Tabernacle you can see the statues of St Peter and St Paul. Two beautiful carved oak chandeliers decorate the entrance of the choir; on the left, the figure Saint Herlé, in deacon; on the right, a beautiful group of the Trinity, where the dove overcomes the tiara of the Eternal Father. At the top of the north side is the altar of St. Anne, with twisted columns, with the Eternal Father on top. There are, also, modern statues of St. Anthony and St. Isidore.


The pulpit to preach seems from the 18C. It is equipped with five sculpted side panels, representing the four evangelists, with Saint Herlé at the central panel. At the bottom of the south collateral, you will notice a fireplace with the baptismal font. At the north side, in an already ancient tomb, was buried Marguerite Le Nobletz, sister of DOM Michel. Several mothers lay down their slow little children to walk, after having carried them processionally along the naves.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Douarnenez on religious heritage

Tourist office of Douarnenez on heritage

Friends of St Herle assoc supporting the Church

Another historically and architecturally nice monument in the Finistére breton of Brittany or Bretagne or Breizh. Hope you have enjoy the small tour.

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


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