Quimper, and the rivers!

Ok so what city at least in France can be without a river? It seems they go hand and hand even if my town does not have one; most do.  I have come to sublime Quimper several times over the years and several posts in my blog; however, once again I seem to have skipped the Odet river that passes thru the center! It is time I remedy this and therefore, will tell you a bit on the Odet river of Quimper, in the Finistére dept 29 of my lovely Bretagne.

First, a bit about the Odet river itself.

The Odet or Oded in Breton is a 63 km long Breton coastal river which originates in the Black Mountains at Saint-Goazec, at a place called Yeun-ar-Vouster, and ends in the Atlantic ocean between Sainte- Marine and Bénodet. The town it passes by are from end to beginning : Bénodet, Combrit (including Sainte-Marine), Clohars-Fouesnant, Gouesnach, Plomelin, Quimper, Ergué-Gabéric, Briec-de-l’Odet, Landudal, Elliant, Langolen , Coray, Trégourez, Leuhan, Saint-Goazec , the source!. The Odet watershed belongs to the area of influence of the town of Quimper, the main town crossed. For a long time, Quimper was supplied mainly by sea, then up the Odet river, only the largest ships unloading at Bénodet.

Quimper steir river locks rue de pen ar steir dec19

This part of the Odet valley, with wooded banks, subject to the influence of the tide and navigable, has attracted for many centuries aristocratic families, then in the 19C and 20C industrialists and artists, whose mansions or manor houses and large villas with breathtaking views of the Odet river were built, creating a veritable Riviera. The company “Les Vedettes de l’Odet” ensures from Bénodet or Quimper cruises on the maritime part of the Odet, allowing to see the beautiful residences and the landscapes of this valley, as well as towards the Ïle Glénan islands; which are paradise on earth.

More on the Les Vedettes de l’Odet here: Official Vedettes de l’Odet boat cruises

The Tourist office of Quimper on the sailboat Le L’Ougre de l’Odet ride on the Odet: Tourist office of Quimper on the sailboat l’ougre de l’odet

Now a bit of history on the crossing, passarelles, ponts of the Odet river in Quimper.

The numerous passarelles or footbridges were not a place for walking like today but private accesses: the Tanguy footbridge, named after the old Crêpes Dentelles factory in 1936, the Guével footbridge of the old tannery in 1905, the footbridge Pastor of the old girls’ school in 1884, the Traounez footbridge named after a dental surgeon, the Bolloré footbridge leading to the family mansion. The Canet-Mallejacq, Phalange d´Arvor and Liot footbridges are references to simple wealthy residents of Quimper. It was not until the 1960s that these eight private bridges fell under the municipal fold,   and therefore, open to the public.


And some of my favorites passarelles (footbridges) of Quimper over the years

The passarelle Max Jacob, the poet in love with his Quimper: As he said   “It is a small town but there is a river! Max Jacob was born on July 12, 1876 at 14 rue du Parc, on the banks of the Odet. No wonder the bridge built in 1961 between Place de la Résistance and the axis to Saint-Mathieu district was dedicated to him and that a bridge was then created to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his tragic death in Drancy.


The pont Pissette :   The mesh parapets of the Pissette bridge are gently adorned with the same love padlocks that the famous Parisian bridge until recently welcomed. This first passarelle or footbridge of Quimper is located at the crossroads of the Odet and Stéïr rivers, and is also a story of feelings. We have to go back to the 19C and thank Napoleon III. Because it is for the emperor of the Second Empire that the Pissette bridge came out of the water. In 1858. Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte continues, accompanied by his wife Eugénie de Montijo. The monarchs makes a stopover in Quimper. Problem: its access is far from easy. The town, then decided to build a wooden footbridge spanning the Odet from rue du Parc, to connect the city center directly to the battlefield. In 1864, it was rebuild in brick and cast iron to make it permanent. It is called Pont Pissette. It would also be more correct to speak of passarelle Pissette, since it is for the exclusive use of pedestrians.

The passarelle de Cap Horn. The presence of a bridge in Locmaria is attested in 1360. In 1388, we find mention of annuities paid to Marguerite, daughter of Aimeric de Locmaria on gardens and orchards located “Pen Ar Pont” (Breton for end of the Breton bridge) in Locmaria. The Locmaria bridge was destroyed or burnt down because it had to be rebuilt in March 1596. This revolving bridge remained in use throughout the 17C. On an unknown date, a stone pile was added to it on which the bridge deck rested. In the 19C, the City of Quimper generally rented for six years and by contract the collection of the rights to collect from the water passage established on the Odet river in Locmaria. Despite the dangers of daily crossings, ferry transportation remained very popular until the 1950s. The construction of a new footbridge at Cape Horn sealed the fate of the old trade of smuggler in Quimper. It was finally until 1954 that the positions of one and the other changed and that after an interruption of 228 years a new permanent bridge again connected the districts of Cape Horn and Locmaria.

The Passarelles or footbridges no longer have the utilitarian role they had before 1965, when Boulevard Dupleix was opened. Forged doors and magnolias remind us that they were, before that date, so many entrances to private gardens. These footbridges now give the city center an undeniable charm! Indeed!


For reference, the tourist office of Quimper on its heritage: Tourist office of Quimper on its heritage

The city of Quimper on its must sees: City of Quimper on its must sees

Hope you enjoy the footbridges over the Odet and Steir rivers at Quimper,a very pretty town of Bretagne.

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

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