Once again we woke to a foggy morning, but by the time we finished the fresh coffee with our breakfast, the fog had lifted and we had to say our goodbyes to Stang Korvann and Bryan and Jilly. While it had been a wonderful experience, we had a 4:00pm train to catch in Quimper.
After packing the car and getting our directions, we first set off for Concarneau before we went to Quimper. Concarneau is France’s third most important fishing port, and a town with a fortified island, the medieval Ville Close, in the center of the harbor.
Thursdays are market day in Concarneau, and are held in the public square outside of the fortress and thus parking nearby was difficult. As usual there was a wide array of foods and products but as with all markets we have seen there are often genres of items at one that you seldom see at others. This market was no exception, nuts, spices and teas were available in greater quantities than we had seen in other markets.
After we strolled the market and got a bite to eat, we walked over to the fortress. On passing through the massive gate we entered another era, much as we have in so many other ancient places on this adventure. The tourist shops with their bright and shiny things and the hoards of tourists distract from the former wonder of the place, but one learns to either look beyond or seek out the little alleys and back streets that often open into delightful and quiet areas full of surprise.
As the clocked ticked on, we also had to move on towards Quimper. Though we started off in the wrong direction, I took a couple of extra turns around the roundabout to recheck the directional signs, and we were soon back on the correct route.
With a few hours remaining before our train back to Rennes, we parked the car, negotiating the pay machine with our credit card. Then we made off in the direction of the spires of the Quimper Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Corentin de Quimper).
Consecrated in 1287, the cathedral took six centuries to complete because of endless setbacks. Civil wars, several wars against the English, the black plague that killed 22 million Europeans, climatic issues and bad harvests that caused terrible famines forced the construction of the cathedral to stall many times. Even the French Revolution contributed to the delay when the religious furniture and statuary were plundered. Unfortunately for us the interior of the cathedral was being cleaned, and we were unable to appreciate this beautiful structure.
We then went to an exhibit at le Musée départemental Breton de Quimper. There were quite interesting exhibits about the history of the area. The first evidence of any human presence surrounding Quimper goes back to the 4th century BC. It was under the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, however, around the year AD 1, that a small port town came to life on the shores of l’Odet River.
The temporary exhibit that really caught our eye was of three artists Hiroshigi, Hokusai, and Riviére. Hokusai and Hiroshigi are very famous Japanese artists who worked in the late 1700’s to the mid 1800’s. Reviére was more contemporary. Their medium was primarily woodblock prints. For some reason we had never heard of Henri Reviére, who has an interesting connection to Hiroshigi and Hokusai. I also presume he has a connection to my family since my grandmother’s maiden name was Reviére. Reviére created a series of prints called “36 views of the Eiffel Tower” in the style of Hiroshigi’s famous series “36 views of Mount Fuji“.
As the time to depart approached, we returned the car to the rental agency, and carried our luggage to the train station. Having a short wait for our train, we enjoyed a café watching residents and travelers walking past. Later, as our train arrived in Rennes, we both remarked how good it was to be home, even if it was only to be for a few days more.