This is Morlaix up in Finistére!

And time to update this older post in my blog on our initial trip to wonderful Morlaix in the Finistére dept 29 of my lovely Bretagne, and in my belle France. Enjoy the ride up north!! Bear in mind ,several posts on the town and things to see with pictures in my blog.

I have come to see most of Brittany, I say most because we can never see everything, but most I say. I have the great opportunity to live in the region now and take advantage of knowing this historical wonderful region of France. Brittany/Bretagne/Breizh. I have come north to the Finistére to encounter the sea and the historical nice city of Morlaix. My dear late wife Martine liked it too.

Morlaix is in the north of department Finistère. In the background of a Ria, this city is often the victim of floods because it is at the confluence of two rivers, the Queffleuth and the Jadhav, which form the Dosenn (or river of Morlaix) that flows into the channel, in the Bay of Morlaix. On average we observe two to three storms each year exceeding 110 km/h . In Finistère,  it is part of the Trégor and Leon, both being delimited by the Dosenn. They are separated even in the city as evidenced by the quay of Trégor and the quay of Leon.  The city is famous for its viaduct built in the 19C in the city center/downtown  which is given the nickname of the “City of Viaduct”.There is a train station SNCF on the TGV Paris-Brest and by the TER Bretagne local trains. 

A bit of history I like

Morlaix was originally a Gaulish oppidum, then transformed into a Roman castrum, located on the hill of the “Parc-au-Duc”, which dominates the Ria du Dossen and located southwest of the center of the present city, in the western part of the peninsula , formed By the Jadhav and the Queffleuth  rivers. It was around the year 1000 that a lord of Leon built a castle on the present site of Morlaix, between the rivers of Queffleuth and Jadhav. There, in the peninsula, is born a village sheltered from the fortress living mainly from fishing-related activities. From the 11C, monks from three abbeys, those of Saint-Mathieu de Fine-Terre, Saint-Melaine de Rennes and the Abbey of Marmoutier, founded the first religious settlements of the city, the Priorys, which gave birth to the three . The respective suburbs of Saint-Mathieu , of Saint-Melaine , and of Saint-Martin.

When Duchess Anne has just acceded to the duchy, she sees herself isolated in her own court, which in her vast majority does not trust her. Contrary to the provisions of the Treaty of the Orchard signed in August 1488 by king Louis XI and her father the Duke of Brittany Francis II , the king of France Charles VIII invaded Brittany in January 1489. Aid from King Henry VII of England landed in Morlaix to help Queen Anne in 1489, as she married Maximilian of Austria in December 1490 in Rennes (formation of an England-Habsburg-Aragon-Castile-France axis). Finally, Anne will be Queen of France twice by marrying Charles VIII in December 1491 and then Louis XII in January 1499. During a tour of Brittany , the Duchess-queen of France Anne stops in Morlaix and descends to the convent of the Jacobins in the summer of 1505 . Queen Anne makes a solemn entrance that all cheer, she lodges at the convent because the castle must be  repaired.  The Duchess is offered a ermine with a pearl necklace. A sudden movement of the animal frightens the Queen. Pierre de Rohan speaks to the Queen in these words:  “What are you afraid of, Madame? These are your weapons!  ” Coat of Arms of Brittany still today.  King Francis I, son-in-law of the Duchess Queen Anne, will also visit the city on September 15, 1518 .After a bitter battle and great losses due to the English ,they find, the latter offering little resistance because of the libations of the previous night. Following this event, it was decided to build the castle of Taureau in the Bay of Morlaix in 1544.

The locals or Morlaisiens merchants built, on the main street, houses with narrow facades, due to a parcel lanièré due to the plan of subdivision established for the reconstruction after the fire of 1522, including the House of 9, Grand-Rue (which serves as a museum) and the so-called Duchess Anne, built around 1530, are beautiful examples of these houses called “Pondalez”.  After the wars of religion, Morlaix takes full advantage of the apogee of the trade of the linen in the 17C, the apogee being about 1680. However, from 1620, the noble merchants of Morlaix no longer build houses in Pondalez, but houses In stone with curtain facade such as those in the  rue Longue-de-Cramt and Place des Otages, as well as private hotels totally stone like the Maison Pénanault and the Hotel François du Parc built in blue schist and granite.   The arrival on Monday 10 November 1624 of the Duke of Vendôme, son of king Henri IV and Gabrielle of d’Estrées visiting Morlaix. Morlaix is a city of goldsmiths; in 1754, it was the most important community of goldsmiths in Brittany.  Many having fabricated coins in the Treasury of Saint-Jean-du-Doigt or Locam’s Treasure.

At the beginning of the French revolution, popular societies of the Friends of the Constitution are created everywhere. The first Jacobin Club of Brittany was foounded in 1790. The nave and the bedside of the Church of Notre-Dame-du-Mur, which had been transformed into a temple of reason during the French revolution  were sold in 1805 in order to serve as a stone quarry. There is a nice facade in the Cour d’honneur of the tobacco factory of Morlaix.  The tobacco factory in Morlaix is one of the oldest in France, it already existed in 1689.  The third company (Morlaix) of the 4th Battalion of Mobiles Guards of Finistère participated on 29 November 1870 in the Battle of the L’Haÿ during the siege of Paris during the war of 1870.

There is a WWI  commemorative painting placed in the Church of Saint-Mélaine. Morlaix was bombarded many times during  WWII by the British and the Americans, the main objective was the railway viaduct, in order to cut the rail communications with Brest. Morlaix was free on 8 August 1944 by American troops from the north coast to the Ponthou where Marquis resistance fighters had strafed Nazi troops on 4 and 5 August 1944 on the road N12 to facilitate the advance of the Allied army.

Things to see in this quant nice town of Morlaix

The former convent of the Jacobins, whose Church founded in 1230, is the oldest in the city. The convent was built in the 13C, the rose of the bedside dates from the  15C.  It was confiscated in the French revolution, then served as barracks, and finally siege the Archaeological Society of Finistère. Since 1887, it houses the Museum of Fine Arts of the city,

The Viaduc of Morlaix sees its first stone laid in 1861. Its construction ends in 1864. The demolition of the houses required for its construction resulted in the erasing  of most of the houses in Pondalez and porches (stilt houses and three or four-storey buildings along the harbour) in the remaining  houses demolished between 1880 and 1907, the last in 1969. The 19C Granite Viaduct (1861) for the Paris-Brest railway line. Majestic piece of granite from the ile Grande  was built from 1861 to 1864 during the construction of the Paris-Brest line.  The result is prodigious: 292 meters long, 58 meters high, 14 arches and 9 poles, 11 000 m3 of stones… The Rennes-Brest line was inaugurated in 1865.  There is a nice Italian Theater from 1888 and fully restored.


The  Church of Saint-Mélaine, of flamboyant Gothic style (15C) dedicated to Melaine de Rennes. The Priory of Saint-Mélaine  was founded between 1149 and 1157 following a donation of Guyomarc’h III, Lord of Morlaix. The Church was built at the end of the 15C. In 1879, the Church lantern was replaced by a zinc-coated wooden arrow. The Church houses beautiful paintings and scultptures from the 15C to 19C, as well as a Dallam organ restored in 1971.

The Church of Saint-Mathieu, the tower is one of the first Renaissance buildings in the area. It houses an opening statue of gilded wood from the late 14C. When opened it offers a carved trinity and painted scenes from the new Testament. This statue from the Cologne (Germany) region was commissioned by the Brotherhood of Weavers of Morlaix. The Church also houses a beautiful organ, the late 17C buffet containing an instrument of Heyer (1873).

The quaint historical nice house at  9 Grande-Rue welcomes the works and objects of the collection of the Museum of Morlaix relating to the architecture and the history of the city – and the so-called Duchess Anne (16C), Rue du Mur.  The booth of the Place des Otages, offered in 1903 by Auguste Ropars. The Carmelite fountain, dating from the 15C, at the foot of the former  Church of Notre-Dame de Fontaines. The Château de Suscinio (House of the privateer Charles Cornic) and its botanical park, located in Ploujean, former village annexed by Morlaix.

In the Bay of Morlaix, the castle of Taureau, erected in the 16C to defend the bay, was reworked by Vauban from 1689, but he died in 1707 before his completion. The stone ship then takes its current dimensions: 60 meters long, 12 meters wide and 12 meters high for a built up surface of 1 450 m2. In addition to eleven bunkers that can each receive a cannon, the Fort houses housings, two dungeons, a canteen, a kitchen and a chapel. In the 20C, it is the second residence of the family of Vilmorin, then houses, from 1960 to 1980, a sailing school having counted up to 250 trainees, of which 150 housed in the castle. This fort to the sea, a national property managed by the ICC, can now be visited.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The City of Morlaix on things to see in French :

The Tourist office of the Bay of Morlaix on things to see in French:

The Tourist office of the Finistére dept 29 on Morlaix in French:

The tourist office of the region of Bretagne on Morlaix in English:

The pleasure marinas of the Bay of Morlaix on Morlaix port in French:

There you go ,you are all set for an enjoyable trip to the north of Brittany and Finistére at Morlaix. The tourist office of Morlaix is in the historical Maison Penanault, 10 place Charles de Gaulle. Enjoy the post!

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

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