A photo tour of Pont-Aven, in Finistère, Brittany, France

A photo tour of Pont-Aven, in Finistère, Brittany, France

Last summer we visited the picturesque Finistère region of Brittany, northern France. The closest town to our base at Siblu’s Domaine de Kerlann was Pont-Aven, a small commune renowned for its artistic heritage.

Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven attracted many artists, including Paul Gauguin. In the late 19th Century he was joined in the town by Émile Bernard, Charles Laval, Émile Schuffenecker, Paul Sérusier and others, forming the ‘Pont-Aven’ school of bold, Symbolist art.

Strolling around the town, it’s easy to see why the harbour town was such a source of artistic inspiration. The river Aven flows through the centre, flanked by flower-strewn gardens, and criss-crossed with simple, elegant wooden bridges.

Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven

Despite the picture-book prettiness of the place, Pont-Aven is very much alive. The famous Dindons, the large rocks set in the Aven riverbed which were painted by Gauguin and countless other artists over the years, rang with the shrieks of children as they hopped from rock to rock. I had to wait a long time until it was quiet enough for me to take this shot:

Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven’s heritage is celebrated in the new museum, Musée de Pont-Aven, based in what used to be the Hotel Julia. In this building, hostess Julia Guillon gave discounted or even free accommodation to artists, academics and writers like Anthony Trollope. Now the former literary and artistic hub is a place where visitors can see collections of Breton-inspired works by Gauguin and others. When I visited, there was an exhibition showing artworks by three generations of the prolific Rouart family.

Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven’s main streets are buzzing with locals and tourists. Art enthusiasts can pop in to one of the many ateliers and studios selling sculptures and paintings.

Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven

Like most other towns in Brittany, Pont-Aven has a fine variety of food on offer. Visitors can choose from traditional French cuisine, crèpes, pizza, steak-frites and fresh seafood. Restaurants range from the mega child-friendly, where every dish seems to be a variant on the pizza or crèpe theme, to purist establishments for serious foodies (“no chips!!” screamed the sign outside one seafood restaurant). Most places offered al fresco dining, some along the riverbank, or nestled one of the town’s many former water mills.

Brittany

Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven

Away from its busy centre, Pont-Aven is surrounded by lush fields, and the beech woods of the Bois d’Amour are close by. It’s the sort of town that is typically French, but which has a mellow vibe all of its own. We fell in love with the town on our visit, and plan to go back soon.

Have you been to Pont-Aven?

If you liked this, you might also want to read:

Family fun at Siblu Domaine de Kerlann, Brittany, France

Finistère, Brittany: a great destination for families?

A love song to Finistère, Brittany

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28 Comments

  1. June 6, 2017 / 9:43 am

    Ahh it’s so beautiful. These photos sum up everything that is quintessentially French. I love the little bridge with all the flowers.
    Nat.x

    • Nell
      Author
      June 6, 2017 / 12:19 pm

      This was one of my favourite excursions from last summer. And I got to do it child-free! 😉

  2. June 6, 2017 / 3:25 pm

    This really seems like a spectacular place! I would love to visit it one day!

    • Nell
      Author
      June 8, 2017 / 10:25 am

      It’s beautiful – and with such a rich history.

  3. June 8, 2017 / 8:41 am

    So pretty – I forget how much there is to discover in Brittany. Although I’d heard the name, I don’t think I’d actually seen any photos or knew much about it. The ‘no chips’ sign made me laugh a bit. #farawayfiles

    • Nell
      Author
      June 8, 2017 / 11:55 am

      Yes, it was very firm and forthright!

  4. June 8, 2017 / 8:58 am

    Picture book pretty is the perfect description – the profusion of flowers is wonderful. The art history connection and the mellow vibe both really appeal to me too. 🙂

    • Nell
      Author
      June 8, 2017 / 12:01 pm

      Yes, the place was so well-tended. I’d like to go back in winter as I bet it’s just as decorative then….

  5. June 8, 2017 / 9:06 am

    It’s a few years since I’ve been to Pont Aven, I remember pushing my babies in their buggy over the little bridges and I think I also remember a biscuit factory. We’re going back this year so this has whetted my appetite for a return visit. The ‘no chips’ sign made me laugh – how funny! #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      June 8, 2017 / 12:05 pm

      Oh, I’m envious! I do want to go back there soon.

  6. June 8, 2017 / 12:18 pm

    Such an idyllic little town! Love the bridges. Can see why all the artists have flocked here..I would too. #farawayfiles

    • Nell
      Author
      June 12, 2017 / 1:49 pm

      I know. I wanted to take up residence!

    • Nell
      Author
      June 12, 2017 / 1:55 pm

      I know. Isn’t it gorgeous?

  7. June 9, 2017 / 3:01 am

    So charmed by this beautiful town! These are the kind of places I like to visit, more if they are next to a river. Those are my favorite tows. #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      June 12, 2017 / 1:55 pm

      Yes, a river does bring some magic into a place.

    • Nell
      Author
      June 12, 2017 / 2:19 pm

      It’s full of character. Definitely worth a trip to the area.

  8. June 10, 2017 / 8:09 am

    Oh you make Brittany look so lovely – Pont Aven looks adorable. I haven’t been to this part of France and would love to see it – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • Nell
      Author
      June 12, 2017 / 2:20 pm

      It’s possibly my favourite part of the whole country.

    • Nell
      Author
      June 12, 2017 / 2:20 pm

      It’s possibly my favourite part of the whole country.

  9. June 11, 2017 / 10:38 am

    Oh Nell! It’s parfait! I am getting itchy feet for France again after reading about Pont-Aven. Cant wait to explore Brittany a bit more when we visit next year. Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      June 12, 2017 / 2:21 pm

      I bet you’ll have a brilliant time there x

  10. June 13, 2017 / 11:32 pm

    I’ve never been to Pont-Aven, but I would love to visit. The river, the alfresco dining options, the art culture all seem so romantic and FRENCH. Beautiful discovery! #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      June 14, 2017 / 10:46 am

      If you want to see the ‘real’ France, it’s a good place to visit!

  11. July 4, 2017 / 11:59 am

    It looks so pretty! Your post makes me want to hop on a ferry and head over to France as it’s been ages since I was last there xx

    • Nell
      Author
      July 4, 2017 / 7:10 pm

      It’s a gorgeous place.

  12. October 18, 2017 / 4:29 pm

    Nice selection of delicious photographs and an equally beautifully written text. The nearest I have got to France is building and supporting a website for an owner of two villas in La Baule which has attracted me and was offered a week at one of the villas. But France has never appealed to me, maybe I was cut down by Normans in a previous life, it’s like I don’t fancy Spain either especially the Costas and the thought of being on holiday with drunken loud mouthed Brits. I think Portugal will do me.

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