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'.

Explore Pont-Aven

France This Way review: Pont-Aven is a charming town famous for its watermills, artists and biscuits and is well worth a visit.

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.

river in Port-Aven

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.

As you stroll along the river notice the sailing boat 'le Minahouët, which was built in Royan in 1912. It was found abandoned and has been renovated and is now permanently docked on the river at Pont 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.

 
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Galettes of Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven is famous for its biscuits called galettes which have been made here since 1890. There are three main factories producing the delicious butter biscuits and these are all visitable, ask at the tourist office for details.

The 'biscuiterie de Pont-Aven' factory is located in the town centre and the Traou Mad and Penven factories are located nearby in the Kergazuel industrial zone.

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 Paul Gauguin first discovered the town and its picturesque setting, and came here to establish a studio.

Other artists followed including most notably Paul Sérusier and Emile Bernard. 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.

As you follow the walk there are information boards at the key places which have featured in their paintings along with a copy of the painting. The Musée d'Orsay in Paris has some of their best work on display.

The 'Bois d'Amour' , the 'wood of love', is part of the walk which runs through the woods alongside the river, and is reputed to be where Gaugin and Paul Serusier began the trend towards abstract art. Look for the information board of 'Le Talisman' where Serusier followed Gaugin's advice to use vibrant colours and created this painting.

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 in the town, 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 kilometers from here but the valley around the town is also very picturesque with the river providing a lovely backdrop to the tree covered slopes.

Port Manech is a pretty seaside village that is nearby and Kerascoet is a small but beautiful village of thatched cottages that is a pleasant excursion.

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

See also: 

Photos of Pont-Aven

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • bois-d-amour
  • bois-d-amour3
  • bridge
  • bridge2
  • centre
  • centre2
  • centre3
  • church
  • galettes
  • gallery
  • gauguin-yellow-christ
  • moulin
  • moulin2
  • moulin3
  • river
  • riverside

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Map of Pont-Aven and places nearby

 
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Visit near Pont-Aven with France This Way reviews

Kerascoet

Kerascoet

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

Kerascoet guide
Port-Manech

Port-Manech

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

Port-Manech guide
Concarneau

Concarneau

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

Concarneau guide
Chateau Keriolet

Chateau Keriolet

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

Chateau Keriolet guide
Clohars-Carnoet

Clohars-Carnoet

Clohars Carnoet is home to the pretty port of Doelan and the port of Le-Pouldu with its artistic connections.

Clohars-Carnoet guide
Quimperle

Quimperle

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

Quimperle 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)

 
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