Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quimper->Concarneau->Pont Aven

After a somewhat stressful day of travel, we left the farm and made it to Quimper, on time and without a scratch. Don't worry, the stress was only due to a very late bus that made us miss our train, forcing us to hop onto another train without a reservation. But everything worked out in the end we enjoyed our short stay in the west of Bretagne (Brittany)

Our base was Quimper and we mainly saw it in the evening. This gave us a skewed idea of the city as both evenings we were out and about, the streets were deserted and everything was closed. It also happened to be Sunday and Monday when most things here are closed anyway. But the town was lovely and had the charm of an old, Medieval town. Being close to England, Bretagne has a large celtic influence and it is evident in their architecture and language.

Here, and the first picture, is the massive, gothic cathedral that juts out of the city. It is an amazing piece of architecture and an ideal landmark. I thought it was interesting seeing the juxtaposition of the young boy in pink playing soccer in front of the (probably) 600+ year old church. It's interesting to think about all the generations of people that passed between when there was no church there and now.

Here is just a more intimate picture of the city and its old charm. Windy cobble stone roads, grays and browns everywhere, and a nice mix of wood and stone.

We used Quimper as a base and went to visit a couple of neighboring towns. The first was Concarneau, and from what I've read, it the largest fishing port in Europe.

We originally weren't planning on going to Concarneau, but a few hours freed up in our plans and we decided to throw it in. I'm glad we did because it gave us a better idea of traditional Bretagne. If you look closely, near the front of the boat is a little design. That, and the colors of this boat, are influenced by the Bretagne flag.

The old part of the city is on a semi-island (a moat separating it from land) and totally surround by walls. It was pretty cool walking around town and seeing all the character of the buildings.

Not sure what to say about this one except that it caught my eye and I thought it was cool.

This woman is dressed in, what I understand to be, traditional Bretagne wear. Although I've seen pictures that vary, they all see to have the black and white colors, laced collars (two on the side and one in the front), and the awesome hat that this woman is wearing, although I think the tall, skinny ones are even cooler. She, of course, wasn't just walking around wearing this. She was outside her shop, somewhat on display, but I'm glad she was and that I got to see traditional clothing.

The next stop was Pont Aven. Made famous by Gauguin and his influence there, Pont Aven is a charming village and birthplace of the Nabis, the new-wave Impressionists that dared to take Impressionism close to abstraction. Although, in my opinion, their ideas and work didn't quite line up, visiting Pont Aven and seeing what they surrounded themselves with made me understand why they chose this place.

The town now is filled with artists studios/ shops, cafes, souvenir shops and specialty food stores. But from certain angles, you can get an image of what it looked like before it catered to tourists.

When I hear there was a port, I was surprised since the tiny river running through Pont Aven didn't even seem suitable to sustain much life. So finding this dry docked boat wasn't very shocking when we walked over to the port. The cool thing though, is that upon seeing some Nabis paintings in the Beaux Art Museum in town, there were paintings of dry docked boats just like this. It makes me wonder when they actually touch water!

To wrap things up, we just spent two nights on the west side of Bretagne and now we just made it to the east side, near Normany, and will be here for two more nights. Then its off to Paris!

I'll leave with a couple of night time shots I got last night when we got home. There was something about the lighting and the deserted feeling that caught my attention.

(I want to paint this)


celia said...

Jon and Casey - you certainly did your homework in planning this trip - great job. These little towns have such history and quaintness - I also like the building with the windows. I can't wait for you to paint the night scene. Wow what a trip and more to come. smiles, mom

lex said...

So awesome! It looks like your pictures came off a movie set! I agree with your mom that I can't wait to see your paintings and more from the rest of your trip. See you at home in a month!