European Escapades

Concarneau – The Forgotton City




The front gates of Concarneau The front gates of Concarneau

Well, with the Campsite in Brest really closed, their wifi not working that week and the fact it felt more like a long term travellers camp at the back of an industrial estate than a three star resort. As you looked around you, there were more tardy looking long term French caravans onsite than real campers and they left in the morning only to return at lunchtime and after work. Amazing what you can pick up in a day. So as we headed to ‘Oceanopolis’, the reason we were in Brest and then set our sights on the south coast of Brittany. The road from Brest to Quimper was motorway of sorts and the type we have managed to avoid for the most part, but it did take us through the ‘armorique national park’ which provided some beautiful scenery along the way. We were heading for a campsite in ‘Fouesnant’ just around the coast from ‘Concarneau’, where we could stay for the night ready for a visit to the forgotten city in the morning.

We managed to get to the site in time to take a small walk around this picturesque town, which was right on a natural inlet and a very pleasant walk as we watched numerous different birds doing what birds do. I can never tell what they are doing usually, but it looks very interesting whatever it is. We found a shop with regional products and delved inside. The shelves pointed us to the fact that this was one of Bretons best cider regions and not a beer region as there were no decent beers for the Beer Blog to try.

Inside the gates of Concarneau Inside the gates of Concarneau

Now refreshed and ready for a full day, we started off to the forgotten city. The reason I’m calling it that, is not because that‘s it name, but from the fact that all the guides we have found on Brittany have no mention of it. The town got a one line mention in one of them, and another brief mention in ‘Lonely Planet’ relating to an article about the 17th century architect Vauban and his fortifications, and that there is one of his works in Concarneau. We had heard from a very eager young campsite receptionist in Plemy, that this was a must place to go see. So either all these books are wrong, or she was out of it on speed or something. The only parking we found for Campingcars, was at the station just as you come into town. The Campingcar is not allowed in the portside parking areas. Although it did not stop us from parking at the port, along with a few other hardened travellers. I guess that this would change in the high season, so stick to the station it’s not that much further to walk to the harbour side. Well the town was a normal looking French town with a nice walk along the sea front, but we could get that anywhere. What was different was the stone walkway or bridge to a fortified island that jutted out to sea from the harbour side. This was the ‘Closed City’ and what we had actually come to see.

Le Bac de Passage in Concarneau Le Bac de Passage in Concarneau

Once inside the main gate the visa opens up to reveal a thriving town within the walls. What a delight as we walked through the old streets, which were made for people and horse and cart and not for today’s cars. It was like being transported back to an earlier time as we walked along some of the ramparts at the back of the town and proceeded down to the small dock area. Here is where we found a ferry that will take you on the shortest ferry journey of your life, to the other side of the harbour for a princely sum of 80c. During the 17th century the Prior of Conq (Concarneau) was required to run the ferry service to the Passage-Lanriec. This was important because the No 1. Royal road from Hennebont to Lanvéoc went through the Ville-Close, as there was no bridge between the two banks of the river Moros at that time. So any traffic had to take the ferry which was a good little earner for the town I guess.

Chocolate Dragon, by Larnicol A Chocolate Dragon, by Larnicol in Concarneau

Although the town is really a tourist trap with all the shops and restaurants you would expect to find in a place like this, it was not overpowering and did not detract from the magic of the visit. In fact one of the places called ‘maison larnicol’ was a distinct plus, with its fancy pastries and exhibits of chocolate sculptures. Two of which were of particular interest to us, one of a large elephant and the other a very good rendition of a Dragon. (I have put up the link to the website, but I would suggest they stick with Chocolaterie and not web design. The website is awful and unusable, all style and no substance in my opinion, unlike their chocolate.)

So is this one to the guides or one to the receptionist in Plemy? I would have to give it to the receptionist as it would not have been a place we would have visited without her recommendation, and we would now wholeheartedly recommend it as a stopover for anyone else. I think the guides need to take note and include a little more information on this forgotten city, or is that why it’s called the Closed City?

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 9:18 am and is filed under Travel Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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