This stunning little town in Finistère, 5 kilometres from the sea, has earned the Small Town of Character and Most Beautiful Village of France labels, and is also a listed Historic Monument! So that makes three reasons to stop by there and admire its architectural heritage: a 15th-century church featuring a pulpit telling the story of St. Ronan, its founder; some beautiful Renaissance homes made of blue granite; the Chapel of Our Lady of Good News; the St. Eutropius fountain, and more.
Locronan became a weavers' town in the 15th century with the development of sail cloth manufacturing. This industrial past is on display at the Art and History Museum, which also has a collection of Breton paintings from the early 20th century.
Other curiosities include the creative craft shops, including a glass works run by a master glassmaker, an expert in the various glass-blowing techniques.
From Locronan, you can go into the Névet woods, which are ideal for outings and hikes with the family, on foot, horseback or mountain bike.
Visitors may be interested to know that Locronan is a location of choice for film directors: scenes from "Tess," "A Very Long Engagement" and "Chouans!" were filmed there.
Locronan is a commune in Finistère, in the Brittany region, 15 km west of Quimper.
Slightly hilly (its altitude ranges from 38 to 280 m above sea level), close to the coast (5 km from the beaches of the bay of Douarnenez), the area of the locality is partly wooded.
At the crossroads of two Roman roads, the site is already famous then as a place of Druidic worship. Subsequently, Saint Ronan, who came from Ireland to evangelize these lands, set up his hermitage there and Locronan became one of the most popular religious centers in Brittany.
However, it is for its unique architectural heritage that the village, which today has around 800 inhabitants, has acquired its status as a tourist capital. In the 15th century, the town specialized in the production and trade of hemp canvas which were quickly considered to be top quality sails for ships. For several centuries, the village acquired buildings, shops, private mansions which housed weavers and merchants around the church dedicated to Saint Ronan.
These perfectly preserved granite buildings justify that Locronan joined the network of small towns of character and the association of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. A true open-air museum, the heart of the city has moreover been chosen as a natural setting by many filmmakers.
Its heritage, its cultural vitality but also its green environment near the coast attract half a million tourists each year. An essential stopover during a stay in Brittany.
Once their car is parked in one of the large outdoor car parks, visitors quickly discover all the rich heritage of Locronan and in particular the church square, still paved and adorned with a picturesque coping well.
Dating from the 15th century, then financed by the Dukes of Brittany, the church dedicated to Saint-Ronan has been classified as a Historic Monument since 1846. It is in the Flamboyant Gothic style. We can see that the porch precedes an imposing tower whose spire, several times struck by lightning, was removed in the 19th century. Over 40 m long, the church notably houses a 17th century pulpit. It is in the annex built at the beginning of the 16th century, the chapel of the Penity, with its sober architecture, that the saint's tomb is located.
Former units dependent on the textile factory, mansions or trade offices also dating from the "industrial" period of the city, all the other buildings in the square with bluish granite facades, most of them in Renaissance style, are also listed. and form a real architectural postcard.
We extend the visit of the village by the beautiful Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle chapel (15th, 16th and 18th centuries) which is next to a Calvary and a fountain. It houses many stone statues and contemporary stained glass windows (1985) inspired by drawings by the painter Alfred Manessier.
Another must-see, fully restored, the Museum of Fine Arts created in 1934 reopened its doors in the fall of 2018. It presents a particularly rich collection of paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries signed by renowned artists who stayed or settled in the region whose exceptional luminosity and contrasts between land and sea landscapes they appreciated: Émile Simon, Désiré Lucas, Kamesuke Hiraga, Yvonne Jean Haffen, Henri Le Sidaner… Open every day. Entrance: 5 euros. Information on +33 2 98 51 80 80.
Guided tours of Locronan, where many craftsmen have settled, are offered by the Tourist Office on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 p.m. in July and August (contact on +33 2 98 91 70 14).
Walks are also judiciously designed to apprehend the other sites of interest of the locality.
One of them allows you to discover the village via cross paths dotted with gardens and alleys less frequented than the main roads or the square... Another leads to the top of Plas ar Hom (the mountain of Locronan in some sort), a listed site from which one enjoys magnificent panoramic views over the bay of Douarnenez or even the Crozon peninsula.
Finally, a third circuit leads to the Nevet wood, a vast 225 hectare site, which the Druids had chosen for their worship. The site gave birth to many druidic legends and traditions (sometimes Christianized over the centuries) which are still respected and mark the calendar of the city's festivities, to the delight of tourists (the "troménies" of July, for example).
In addition, hiking or mountain biking from the village are offered and signposted, many of which allow you to follow the historic sites of the town or reach the coast. Maps and information on +33 2 98 91 70 14.