Ancient Celtic kingdom
The ancient kingdom of Cornouaille once stretched far north and east of its capital, Quimper (below), but only the south-western corner of Finistère, a region still deeply rooted in tradition, continues to bear the original Celtic name given it by early Cornish settlers.
Fishing remains the chief local industry (the treacherous seas proving inhospitable to tourists), and heading 10 km west from Locronon (see above) or 23 km north-west from Quimper (see page 55), the first town you reach is Douarnenez, a busy fishing port boldly styled the ‘European Capital of Maritime Heritage’. This is on account of its lively Port-Musée, laid out along the quays of the Port-Rhu, where in addition to the Musée du Bateau, you can explore a tug and sail boats tied up to the quay, take a boat trip, visit the boatyards and ogle an aquarium.
Further west, overlooking the wide Baie de Douarnenez, the Réserve Ornithologique du Cap Sizun (open March to September) is a favoured nesting spot for seabirds; and the road continues on to Pointe du Van, which flanks the grimly-named Baie des Trépassés (Bay of the Dead) opposite Pointe du Raz, the most westerly tip of France. Guides lead treks out along the narrow headland; sensible footwear is a must.
At the foot of a wooded hill on the Goyen, Audierne has a sheltered port specializing in crayfish, lobsters, and summer-season boat trips to the lle de Sein, an hour away. At the southern end of the Baie d’Audierne, Saint-Guénolé clings to the Penmarch peninsula, and another clutch of salty little fishing villages such as Kérity, Guilvinec, and Lesconil follow the coast around to picturesque Loctudy with a Romanesque church hidden behind an 18thC facade, and boat trips up the Odet to Quimper.