Finistère

Finistère is the region on the north-west coast of Brittany.

It has a wild and rocky Brittany coast, pointing towards the Atlantic ocean.

Summers have a mild climate, dry and cool, ideal for walking, cycling and generally relaxing in the laid back atmosphere. Winters are cold, with average temperatures getting down to around 5C.

There are more then 852 thousand people living in Finistere in 296 towns.

Most of Finistère is low-lying, at about 100m above sea-level, but there are ranges of hills that run through the centre of Finistère, the Montagne Noires and the Arrée range. Inland, between farmlands, are moors and heathlands with gorse. The coastline ranges from granite headlands with crashing seas below the cliffs in the north-west, to bays and inlets with sandy beaches. Around the coast are ports and small fishing communities, offering many interesting and picturesque places to visit.

There are many great towns and villages in Finistère where ancient stones, historic architecture and magnificent Finistere villas can be seen, including the destinations of Audierne, Quimper and Crozon. It also had an important fishing industry with boats once travelling from the famous ports of Brest to the Terre Neuve region of Canada.

Quimper is the capital of the Finistere department of Brittany. It is situated in a pretty valley in the southwestern corner of Brittany. It was the ancient capital of La Cornouaille, Brittany’s most traditional region, and has a Breton character.

Shops and flags celebrating the region’s Celtic heritage can be found throughout the city. The town has a rustic atmosphere with footbridges spanning the rivers that flow through it. The Church of Locmaria, a Romanesque structure, dates from the 11th century. The Cathedral of Saint-Corentin, with its Gothic-style façade, was constructed between the 13th and 16th centuries. It is the oldest Gothic structure in lower Brittany. Its two towers are 250 feet tall; its spires were added in the 19th century. The 15th century stained glass windows are exceptional.

The town’s best known product is Quimper faience pottery. It has been made here since 1690, using bold provincial designs. The town’s eating establishments boast some of the best crêpes and cider in Brittany. The town has also been known for copper and bronze work, food items, galvanized ironware, hosiery, leather, paper and woollen goods.

Just a few kilometres from the mainland lies the island of Ouessant and the Molène archipelago, rich in wildlife with colonies of grey seals, dolphins and numerous seabirds.

Roscoff’s 19th century merchants’ houses, narrow alleys and the church of Notre Dame de Croatz are worth a visit. Boat trips run to the Ile de Batz, a tiny offshore island. Good places to visit include the Océanopolis in Brest and the windy Ile d’Ouessant, Roscoff with its sandy beaches is worth a visit too.

Finistere is a historical part of France, with special attention given to WW II and King Arthur and his knights. There is a huge wealth of chateaus, medieval towns, museums, ancient megaliths and Finistere barns here, which can easily be explored from a Finistere holiday cottage.

In the Breton language Finistère means ‘The end of the Earth’. It is easy to see why the ancient Celts chose this name as they looked towards the wild Atlantic Ocean stretching out into the distance. There were close links between the Celts of Brittany and the Celts of Cornwall. One region of Finistère is still called Cornouaille, which is Breton for Cornwall. Since it was settled by the Celts, the Romans, the Normans, the Spanish and the Germans have invaded the region. At times, it has been raided by Pirates and Sailors. Much of the local folklore involves the sea.