Concarneau (or Konk-Kerné in the Breton language) is a very interesting city, where an old medieval town "Ville Close" is situated on an island right between a large fishing harbor and a marina. The city is turned towards the sea and nestled in the most beautiful bays of Brittany, and it is also known as the blue city of Brittany. Concarneau is a perfect place where you can enjoy many seaside, nautical and thalassotherapy activities. But it is also famous as a place where many artists lived and worked. This beautiful blue city is absolutely worth visiting!
Concarneau has two distinct areas. The modern city is situated on the mainland, while the Ville Close is located on a long island just between the fishing harbor and marina. The Ville Close is connected to the modern part of Concarneau by a bridge and by a ferry. A French writer Gustav Flaubert said in 1847 about the Ville Close: “The town is surrounded by the wall whose base is battered by waves at high tide. The machicolation is still intact, exactly as it was in Queen Anne’s day, and the line of carved stones which runs along the ramparts rises up through the mist”. Indeed, the ramparts of the Ville Close are still intact and even listed as a French historical monument since 1899. Today, inside this old walled city, you can find many restaurants and shops, and you can also visit the Fishing Museum, that houses a collection of work tools, everyday objects, real boats and even the Hémerica, a side-trawl fishing vessel. The tour of this museum is an immersion into the daily life of its sailors and a must-see if you are visiting the Ville Close.
Concarneau was also a place where many artists came to live and paint from 1870 to 1950. It all started in 1870, when Alfred Guillou, a native painter came back to his hometown with some of his friends from Paris. They formed the famous – Concarneau group. By 1900, there were many French and international artists living and working in Concarneau. This city became a must for young American painters of that time, such as Howard Russell Butler (1856 - 1934) and Arthur Wesley Dow (1857 - 1922). Concarneau was also the city where a Belgian mystery writer Georges Simenon wrote in 1931 his novel “Le Chien jaune”. Some artists settled in this city for real, and some of them such as Paul Gauguin, only stayed here briefly. He preferred to go to Pont-Aven, another artistic city of Brittany.
Every August, Concarneau - the blue city of Brittany is hosting the festival Fête des Filets Bleus (Festival of the blue nets). This festival, named after the traditional blue nets of Concarneau's fishing fleet, is a celebration of Breton culture. This is one of the oldest and largest festivals in Brittany, where you can see many participants wearing traditional Breton costumes. The first edition of this festival was organised back in 1905, to support local fisherman and their families. The festival has always kept the idea of solidarity, and so even today all events and concerts are free.
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