Concarneau travel guide

Photo of Concarneau

Visit Concarneau (Brittany, France)

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Concarneau is situated in Brittany on the south-west coast of the Finistere department between Quimper and Lorient.

Although Concarneau is the third largest fishing port in France tourism also now plays an increasing role in the economic life of the town, a listed 'town of art and history' with a historical centre that is among the most visited destinations in Brittany.

Explore Concarneau

A good way to start a visit is with a glimpse of the past life of Concarneau - get up early and see the fish market in the town which starts 6 am. Then at the end of the day you can see the ramparts illuminated at night, perhaps their most attractive time. In between the two you will have plenty of time to explore...

walled town of Concarneau

It is the old town, the Ville Close, that stands on a rocky island a few metres off the coast in the harbour and is reached by a drawbridge, that is most interesting part of Concarneau for visitors, with a main street lined by attractive buildings and many shops and restaurants.

The origins of the Ville Close date back to the 13th century and for the following centuries it was the centre of activity in Concarneau. This part of the old town is rather given over to tourism and as one of the most visited sites in Brittany can be a bit crowded in the height of summer - it is just 350 metres by 100 metres so there is not much space to squeeze everyone in!

It is well worth a visit all the same since it is very attractive, with picturesque paved streets and square, and a mix of half-timbered and granite medieval houses.

The fortifications around the Ville Close were already in place before they were substantially added to in the 15th century, and you can now walk around the ramparts, which have nice views across the ports and Concarneau bay.

The old town is entered via a bridge and through a large stone gateway. Before the bridge was built the town could only be entered at low tide. This area is the most heavily fortified part of the Ville Close.

Inside the Ville Close the main street, Rue Vauban, leads to the square, the Place Saint-Guénolé. This was the marketplace of the town and four of the houses around the square were built by shipowners.

The wealth of the houses can be seen in the quality and regularity of the stone and the large facades. One even has two floors, a luxury as staircase construction was expensive!

The main street was named in honour of Vauban in 1868 even though he was not involved in the building of the fortifications.

 
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There is also a fishing museum in the old town, where you can learn more of the importance of the industry to the town's history. The museum was originally the chapel of the military garrison.

The town outside the ville Close is also interesting to explore, with the broad 18th century streets providing an interesting contrast to the narrow streets of the old town.

The town expanded beyond the fortifications from 1850 onwards when new canning factories were built at Concarneau. In the early part of the 20th century there were 32 canning factories!

Sardine fishing is still very important in Concarneau, however it has now been replaced by lobster fishing as the most lucrative fishing based here.

The square tower of the corner of the port is an ice silo and produces up to 40 tonnes a day to keep the daily catch fresh. The fish market is next to the port.

Fresh fish is on the menu of many of the Concarneau restaurants and the indoor market in Concarneau is a good source of fish, fruit and vegetables if you are staying and cooking in this part of Brittany.

In the town you can walk along the sea front, the fishing port and the pleasure port, then if you would like to learn more about the life beneath the waves you can visit the Marinarium, a chance to discover the surprisingly diverse range of life forms that occupy the sea and coastline of Brittany.

If possible, visit Concarneau during the last but one Sunday in August, when a colourful festival - the Festival of the Blue Nets - takes place.

waterfront of Concarneau

Attractions nearby

There are a couple of small beaches in Concarneau itself, and several others on the coast within easy reach. The Plage des Dames and the Plage des Sables Blancs (with lifeguards in summer) are two beaches close to hand.

If you follow the coast path from the Plage des Sables Blancs towards l'Anse-Saint-Jean you will also find quieter beaches.

The Chateau de Keriolet, nearby, is interesting to visit. The castle mostly dates from the 19th century, when it was designed and furnished by a Russian princess who married a French Count.

After stolling along the promenade along the corniche if you are feeling energetic there are several marked footpaths around Concarneau that will enable you to enjoy the surrounding region and coastline.

Among others, the walk that passes through Kerlean to the Kerandon Valley is recommended, while the short walk called Le Rouz has lovely views across the town and harbour.

The GR34, grande randonnée, called the 'customs officers path' is the favourite long distance walk of the French and winds around the Brittany coastline for over 2000km.

It starts at Mont Saint Michel and goes to the Sainte-Nazaire bridge. Concarneau is on the footpath, just follow the red and white markers if you want to walk part of it.

The town is a departure point for ferries to the nearby Glenan islands.

Explore elsewhere in the Brittany coast. You can find more travel ideas in the Finistere guide and the Brittany guide.

See also: 

Photos of Concarneau

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Arrange a visit to Concarneau

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Where

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Map of Concarneau and places nearby

 
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Visit near Concarneau with France This Way reviews

Chateau Keriolet

Chateau Keriolet

The Chateau de Keriolet is an attractive 19th century chateau near to the coastal town of Concarneau.

Chateau Keriolet guide
La-Foret-Fouesnant

La-Foret-Fouesnant

La Forêt-Fouesnant is a small village with the third largest marina in southern Brittany.

La-Foret-Fouesnant guide
Beg-Meil

Beg-Meil

Beg-Meil is a popular tourist spot and home to some very pretty beaches and coves.

Beg-Meil guide
Kerascoet

Kerascoet

Kerascoet is a beautiful hamlet of thatched cottages near to the sea and the beach of Rospico.

Kerascoet guide
Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven

The watermills and harbour area give Pont-Aven its own special appeal

Pont-Aven guide
Port-Manech

Port-Manech

Port Manec'h is an attractive seaside village which became popular in the Belle Epoque.

Port-Manech guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Finistere

Tourist classifications for Concarneau

Concarneau is classified as a listed town of Art and History

Address: Concarneau, Quimper, Brittany, 29900, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 47.87, longitude -3.91

Plan your visit to Concarneau, Finistere

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Marais de Mousterlin: site of natural beauty (9 km)
  • Archipel des Glénan: site of natural beauty (18 km)
  • Parc botanique de Cornouaille: remarkable garden (19 km)
  • Jardin du château de Lanniron: remarkable garden (20 km)
  • Jardin du prieuré de Locmaria: remarkable garden (20 km)
  • Quimper: town of art and history (20 km)
  • Parc du château de Trévarez: remarkable garden (32 km)
  • Locronan: most beautiful village (34 km)
  • Lorient: town of art and history (36 km)
  • Zoo de Pont-Scorff: zoo or wildlife park (38 km)
  • Pleyben: enclos-paroissial (40 km)
  • Parc Victor Chevassu: remarkable garden (43 km)

Market days in Concarneau, France

Regular market(s) are held in Concarneau each Monday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Concarneau (Francais)

 
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