Get to know Pont-Aven, a small town in French Brittany

Pont-Aven, in French Brittany

Pont-Aven, the town of artists It is a charming town France, of those that abound in the countryside of the neighboring country. It's in Brittany, a historical and cultural area, but also really beautiful. It is usually known as "the city of painters", and I invite you to discover why.

About Pont-Aven, a small town in French Brittany.

Pont-Aven, the town of artists

Pont-Aven, French town

As we said above is in French Brittany, one of the thirteen regions into which France is divided. Rennes is its capital, and also its most populated city. Pont-Aven is at the west end and It borders the English Channel and Normandy, the Loire territories, the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Brittany is made up of four departments, including Finisterre which is where the little town that summons us today is located: Pont-Aven. The town is located near the Atlantic coast and is crossed by the river Aven that is where it heads to empty, so behind some rocks its estuary unfolds.

Far away and a long time ago, At the dawn of the 19th century, no one knew Pont-Aven. It was inhabited by less than a thousand people and its name was not out of the ordinary, but one fine day the train arrived to neighboring Quimper, the capital of the department of Finisterre, and everything began to change.

Pont-Aven, France

The artistic community of that time began to travel to Brittany, now that the train made their transfer easier. The first, however, was not a Frenchman but an American: Henry Bacon. Later he brought the name of Pont-Aven to the French capital, we are talking about the second half of the 19th century, and then it began to become a more popular destination.

What attracted the artists? Well when you go you will discover them yourself: nature! The coast, the rocks of the estuary, the sea and its horizon, the rural and simple life of the Breton countryside, simplicity compared to Parisian glamour. Among the best-known artists who came to Pont-Aven are Paul Sérusier, Émile Bernard and Paul Guaguin, who helped make up the call Pont-Aven School.

From his hand, Pont-Aven changed forever because galleries and studios began to open as interested, professional and curious people arrived, especially in the summer months when the weather was milder.

Pont-Aven, the town of artists

How do you get to Pont Aven today? In Finisterre there are several transports, regular buses that reach Pont-Aven and other towns such as Rosporden or Trégunc or Concarneau, but in summer the "beach bus" and the "night bus" operate, covering the entire Coralie route and making tourist movement more fluid.

La Communal Tourism Office offers information of all kinds: accommodation, dining, events, WiFi, hiking maps, boating, gifts, cycling guides... It is located on 3 Rue des Meuniéres, with parking limited to half an hour or an hour and a half, and in summer it is free. Open from July to August from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 12:45 pm and from 2:30 to 6:45 pm. Sundays from 10 am to 12:45 pm. At other times, at other times of the year.

What to see in Pont-Aven

Streets of Pont-Aven

Located on the banks of the Aven River, it is a charming little town with pretty little streets and the best shortbread cookies you will ever taste. Or at least that's what they claim. A long time has passed since its days as a town that simply received goods from the sea and the river, or as a colony of painters in the 19th century: today it is a great vacation destination. And yes, luckily it honors this artistic legacy and It has galleries and art studios.

Pont-Aven is a colorful city and the best place to start the walk is the Xavier Grall boardwalk, Just in the middle of the city. Is a pedestrian zone to walk dedicated to this famous writer, journalist and poet. It runs alongside the river, is adorned with trees and is truly a beautiful place because although it is in the center, its beauty makes you feel somewhere else.

Pont-Aven pier

El Aven River It is not a calm river, so in other times they have been built along its banks. many mills and dams to take advantage of the momentum of its waters. That is why you often hear it said that "Pont-Aven has 14 mills and 15 houses", referring to those mills that once worked all together and that can still be seen today if one walks along the bank of said river.

Precisely on the banks of the Aven River we came across another interesting point on our tour of Pont-Aven, a small town in French Brittany: Le Bois d'Amour. Along the river bank one can walk for an hour or so, under the canopy of leafy trees, until stopping at a very important site for the history of art: the place where Paul Séruisier, on Gauguin's recommendation, painted one of his most famous works: The Talisman, manifesto of the Nabi movement, something like the previous step to abstract art.

Le Bois d'Amour, in Pont-Aven

Being a coastal city, you cannot miss the port of Pont-Aven, cradle of local prosperity and one of the most important ports in the area. Dozens of boats and small boats used to stop here to distribute wine and salt and return home with wood, granite and grain, according to the whims of the changing tide. That's why there are so many lodgings, so that those sailors who had to wait for the tide to let them lift anchor could stay.

This is why French was also widely spoken here, while in the rest of Brittany people spoke Breton. Details, but they precisely reflect the particularities of Pont-Aven as a destination for foreign artists in the second half of the 19th century. Today there is no longer any wine, salt or cereals, but there are tourists and travelers who come to take a boat ride along the river or take long, photographic walks.

Port of Pont-Aven, in French Brittany

El Pont-Aven Museum It's something you can't miss either. Its permanent collection is dedicated to the town's artistic past, from 1860 onwards. There are also some temporary exhibitions during the year so you can find all kinds of art in this huge space of 1700 square meters of surface. It used to be smaller but in 2016 it was expanded by the same people who renovated the Rodin Museum in Paris in 2015.

The permanent exhibition is on the top floor and brings together some 4500 pieces of art arranged chronologically, making use of different multimedia tools. The second floor is where the temporary exhibits are located and there is also an outdoor garden inspired by Filiger's work.

And if you want you can eat at the Hotel Julia restaurant, on the first floor, which is where the old artists used to live. This museum Open all year round, except in January, seven days a week, although in the low season it opens from Tuesday to Sunday.

Pont-Aven Museum

If you are not traveling alone and you are traveling with children, you can take them to the Aven Parc, a huge and fantastic labyrinth of 40 thousand square meters. There are other attractions too, and it is a great destination as it combines fun and pleasure. And if you are by car and want to move around a bit You can go to Névez to see the Château du Hènant, the beach of Port-Manech, the site of the Moulin du Poulguin or the fantastic sand-roofed cabins.

Pont-Aven biscuits

Finally, we said at the beginning that Pont-Aven is very famous for its biscuits, biscuits, cookies, as you tell them. Here some butter cookies called Pont-Aven biscuit, tasty, simple and very local, today true emblems of French Brittany. Don't stop trying them!

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