Pont-Aven travel guide

Photo of Pont-Aven

Visit Pont-Aven (Brittany, France)

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The historical port town of Port-Aven is between Quimper and Quimperlé in south-east Finistere (Brittany region).

For several hundred years Pont-Aven was a quiet port town with an industry based around its watermills and port, then towards the end of the 19th century it also gained a reputation as an art town. A significant number of artists are still attracted here, with the town referred to by the local tourist authorities as a 'city of artists'.

Exploring Pont-Aven

The town is best known for the historic watermills along the banks of the quiet river Aven, and it is these that provide the scenic backdrop for the town - although only four now remain, and it is said that were 14 or 15 here when Pont-Aven was at its most prosperous.

Ask for the guide 'Promenade des Moulins' in the Pont-Aven tourist office for a walk that discovers both the mills that still exist and those that are now in ruins or no longer in existence.

Apart from the mills you will want to stroll around the quiet port overlooked by Breton houses, and to explore Pont-Aven town centre where there are a good number of traditional granite and whitewashed houses.

port in Port-Aven

The whole of the centre of Pont-Aven is very pleasant and one of our favourite towns in the region.

Be sure to explore the streets both sides of the main bridge, and to amble down some of the smaller side streets such as Rue des Meunières (to the west of the port) to see the most traditional parts of the village.

There are numerous pizzerias et creperies as well as more traditional restaurants in Pont-Aven, along with banks, shops and all other commerces necessary if you are staying nearby.

We recommend you visit the Pont-Aven tourist office before exploring because there are several megaliths, chapels and natural highlights nearby that you are likely to not see if you just wander around.


Art in Pont-Aven

An artistic community had already been established in Pont-Aven around 20 years before, but its fame became assured in 1886 when Gauguin first discovered the town and its picturesque setting, and came here to establish a studio. An interesting way to explore the town is to use the guide from the Tourist Office that follows in the footsteps of these famous artists.

Enthusiasts of Gauguin will also want to visit the small Chapel of Tremalo just outside Pont-Aven to see the wooden cross that inspired Gauguin to paint The Yellow Christ, one of his most famous paintings, and is surprisingly similar to the painting.

gauguin painting of yellow christ

You can see some high quality examples of the 'Pont-Aven art' in the Museum of Fine Arts, which has quite a remarkable collection given the size of the town and is a highlight of a visit.

Attractions nearby

The area around Pont-Aven is as much of an attraction as the town itself. Of course, there are beaches just a few kilometres from here but the valley around the town is also very picturesque with the river providing a lovely backdrop to the tree covered slopes.

There is a marked trail that follows along the Aven river from the town through the Bois d'Amour that takes about an hour and is the best way to appreciate the natural environment.

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

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Map of Pont-Aven and places nearby


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Now listed as a town of art and history, you will find lots of interesting monuments in Concarneau

Concarneau guide


The extremely pretty centre of Quimperlé make it one of the loveliest small towns in Finistere

Quimperle guide


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

La-Foret-Fouesnant guide


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

Beg-Meil guide
Iles des Glenan

Iles des Glenan

The uninhabited islands of the Glenan archipelago are now a popular nature reserve and diving centre

Iles des Glenan guide


Due to the fishing industry and war time damage Lorient is not a typical Brittany destination but retains some highlights such as the Submarine Museum

Lorient guide

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

Address: Pont-Aven, Quimper, Brittany, 29930, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 47.85, longitude -3.75

Plan your visit to Pont-Aven, Finistere

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Concarneau: town of art and history (12 km)
  • Marais de Mousterlin: site of natural beauty (20 km)
  • Archipel des Glénan: site of natural beauty (24 km)
  • Lorient: town of art and history (25 km)
  • Zoo de Pont-Scorff: zoo or wildlife park (26 km)
  • Jardin du château de Lanniron: remarkable garden (31 km)
  • Jardin du prieuré de Locmaria: remarkable garden (31 km)
  • Quimper: town of art and history (31 km)
  • Parc botanique de Cornouaille: remarkable garden (31 km)
  • Parc Victor Chevassu: remarkable garden (31 km)
  • Parc du château de Trévarez: remarkable garden (34 km)
  • Massif Dunaire de Gavres-Quiberon: grand site of france (35 km)

Market days in Pont-Aven, France

Regular market(s) are held in Pont-Aven each Tuesday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Pont-Aven (Francais)