With the imposing twin spires of its cathedral and its splendid location overlooking the river, Quimper is not only the capital of Finistère, but above all, it is a reference point for Celtic culture, with the wonderful Festival de Cornouaille, which takes place in July.
Like most lively towns in this region, Quimper retains an old-world charm: cobbled and twisted streets, half-timbered houses with flowered windows and the feeling of having stepped back in time as you stroll through the pedestrianised old town, nestled between the Odet and Steir rivers.
An enchanting city of art and history, Quimper is crossed by four rivers: the Odet, the Steïr, the Front and the Jet, which contribute to the city’s charm and beauty, along with its half-timbered houses.
Built on the foundations of an ancient Roman cathedral between the beginning of the 13th and 15th centuries, the Saint-Corentin Cathedral is the symbol of the city of Quimper: indeed, this imposing building hardly goes unnoticed, thanks to its twin spires, which reach a height of 75 metres.
The cathedral is characterised by a certain architectural uniqueness and harmonious volumes. Take a close look at the magnificent portal and especially the nave, which is strangely inclined at a 5-degree angle with respect to the choir, to represent the position of Christ’s head on the cross.
Awarded the title of City of Art and History for its cultural heritage, Quimper deserves to be discovered slowly, wandering through its narrow alleyways to admire the half-timbered houses with their flowered windows and the picturesque corners hidden in the heart of the old town.
A visit to old Quimper starts at the Saint-Corentin Cathedral. From here, we recommend you walk down rue Kéréon, Quimper’s most commercial street, and then up to Place du Beurre. The old square takes its name from the sale of salted butter, which used to take place here. Today this charming corner is home to a large number of creperies, the perfect place to have lunch.
Continue on to the ramparts of Quimper, and finally, lose yourself in the labyrinth of pedestrian streets: it is here that you will discover all the charm of this Breton town, its small local shops, numerous restaurants, artisans and incredible architecture. Let yourself be guided by the colour of the half-timbered houses– the town has as many as 72 of them – the most hidden streets and the most interesting shops.
We recommend a small diversions to the old district of Locmaria, also called the artisans’ district. Here you will find beautiful faience and embroidery shops, including a must-see brand: the Henriot-Quimper earthenware factory , a local institution.
In the neighbourhood, you can also visit the Jardin du Prieuré, a corner of pure peace and tranquillity: located on the banks of the Odet, it was designed at the time of Anne of Brittany, with special attention and care for aromatic and medieval plants.
Another unmissable place in the city is the Quimper covered market, right in the heart of the city, open every day (Sunday closes at 1 p.m.).
Shaped like an overturned hull, the Halles Saint-François de Quimper was inaugurated in 1847 in the former convent of the same name: it boasts many shops offering local products from the butcher’s shop, bakery, wine cellar, delicatessen, crêperie, delicatessen, florist and fishmonger.
Visiting the market will allow you to enter into the life of the town and taste some gastronomic specialities, which come directly from local producers.
The banks of the Odet River and its photogenic bridges are an ideal place for a leisurely stroll: you will admire truly enchanting views of the town’s fortifications and buildings.
An unusual way to explore the city is with a relaxing boat trip: there is also the possibility of enjoying a rich dinner on board, with sparkling wine, lobster and scampi.
Continuing along the River Odet, you arrive at Lanniron Castle, the former summer residence of the bishops of Cornwall. Listed as a historic monument since 1988, it now houses a campsite, a restaurant and the opportunity to enjoy a variety of activities including boat hire, children’s play areas, golf and several walking trails in its many gardens.
The area includes 38 hectares of greenery: old trees, plants and flowers, ponds and terraces, a place that exudes a particularly poetic and romantic atmosphere.
If you want to delve deeper into Breton culture, then pay a visit to Breton Museum7where you can learn all about the Celtic civilisation and the history of the town or to Musée des beaux-arts de Quimper8, with its rooms devoted to the Pont-Aven school.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
The town of Quimper is located at the western end of Finistere, the part of Brittany that juts out into the Atlantic. It is therefore a long way from the big French cities. Those arriving in Brittany by plane will almost certainly use the International Airport of Nantes, or the Paris airports of Paris Orly, Paris-Charles de Gaulle or Paris Beauvais.
Quimper is 230 km from Nantes, which can be reached in about 2½ hours along the E60. Those arriving from Rennes, on the other hand, will have to allow 2 hours on the N165 or almost 6 hours to Paris.
Quimper’s SNCF station offers daily connections by TGV – Paris-Quimper lasting 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Quimper is well worth a stop during your trip to Brittany: in addition to its historical and artistic heritage, it also boasts a remarkable gastronomic scene. Moreover, in the evening, the riverside is dressed in a truly atmospheric atmosphere.
The best choice, for those who wish to experience the city in the evening, is to find a hotel in the centre of Quimper. The heart of the town is almost entirely pedestrianised: this allows tourists to stroll peacefully around discovering the most charming alleys, the most interesting shops and the most renowned restaurants.
The district is not particularly noisy and the hotel offer is varied and affordable for all budgets. Moreover, parking is free after 5 p.m.
Those who are looking for peace and quiet, but at the same time want to mix with the locals, can choose the Braden, a surprising area, halfway between town and country: although very close to the centre, the lung of Quimper is a modern and lively residential area, characterised by student residences and many bars.
What's the weather at Quimper? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Quimper for the next few days.
Quimper is the former capital of the historic Cornouaille region and is located in the Finistere department.