Sunday, July 25, 2010

Quimper, the French town of ancient Roman vintage

Photo: The Odet River in the centre of Quimper, France

Quimper (Kemper) is a commune and the prefecture (capital) of the Finistère department in Brittany in northwest France. The name Quimper is derived from the Breton word 'kemper' meaning ‘confluence’ because the city was built on the confluence of the Steir, Odet and Jet rivers. It is 486 km (302 miles) west-southwest of Paris.

Quimper is the ancient capital of La Cornouaille, Brittany’s most traditional region and the town was originally settled during Roman times. The town has a rustic look with footbridges spanning the rivers that flow through it.

Near the Episcopal palace, which now holds the Musée départemental Breton, there are the ruins of the town's 15th century walls. Also nearby is the Musée des Beaux-Arts that houses a sizeable collection of 14th to 21st century paintings.

Quimper is well-known for Quimper faïence pottery, made here since 1690. The town’s eating establishments have some of the best crêpes and cider in Brittany. The town has also been famous for copper and bronze work, food items, galvanized ironware, hosiery, leather, paper and woolen goods.

Generally French festivals are held in summer, but Quimper has a Winter Festival, ‘Les Hivernautes’. In summer, you can also find concerts on street corners, with pipers and accordion players.

The main tourist attractions include the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint-Corentin, the Church of Locmaria, several other historical churches, the old town centre with mediaeval fortifications and houses, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Cornouaille Festival featuring traditional dance in the last week of July, Faience museum, and the Statue of Gradlon.

Public transport in Quimper is provided by QUB. Quimper is the terminus of the TGV high-speed train line from Paris, which passes through Le Mans, Rennes and Vannes, and the regional train network is served by the TER Bretagne. Quimper-Cornouaille Airport has flights to Paris.

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