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February 3, 2019

France: Quimper Brittany

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, France, Photography, Street Art, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , — anotherheader @ 6:43 pm

Flower box lined passerelles cross over the Odet River in Quimper.

The flower-filled commune of Quimper is regarded as the cultural heart of Brittany. Located towards the outer end of the Brittany peninsula Quimper is the administrative capital of France’s Finistère departement.

The name Finistère derives from the Latin Finis Terræ, meaning end of the earth. Indeed this is the westerly-most portion of European France. The geographical edge is also a cultural extreme; this is Brittany’s most traditional region retaining the most of the distinctive Breton Celtic character.

Tourist guides recommend Quimper for its cathedral, atmospheric old quarter and museums. We liked all that but what was most memorable were the many flowery passerelles crossing over the Odet River.

All told I count 17 small bridges festooned with flower boxes in a stretch of about 800 meters. That’s a lot of bridges, and flowers, in a short distance. Indeed, in a stretch of 260 meters there are 10 narrow small walkways crossing the small stream of the Odet. In effect it is a flower garden raised above a river. Looking up or downstream from one of the bridges all you see is flowers.

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Many communes in France are like Quimper and commemorate the passing of Tour de France. The TdF passed through Quimper in July of 2018.

The number of passerelles raises a question. Why do all these bridges cross the Odet so close together? The bridges clearly aren’t new. Nor were they built at the same time in the same fashion. So why are there so many?

The answer is simple. Until recently the bridges crossed over the river to give access to the yards for a row of large homes on the river’s left bank. Over time modern buildings replaced the homes and a road was built along the bank of the river. When the road was constructed it severed the bridges connection to their residential properties. The city could have chosen to remove the spans but the decision was made to keep them in place, as they are now, and to maintain the flower boxes.

A painting shows how the Odet riversides in Quimper once were.

Today the plethora bridges serve no great functional purpose. Instead of allowing access to the homes they now provide more access than is necessary between the pathways on the sides of the river. In the end the passerelles primary purpose has become a place to display flowers; their function is not so much utilitarian as it is cosmetic. No matter their purpose, we found Quimper’s cluster of bridges to be striking.


We visited Quimper in August of 2018.

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  1. […] Road 791 from Quimper to Camaret-sur-Mer crosses over the Aulne River via the Pont de Térénez. A bridge at this place […]

    Pingback by France: Pont de Térénez | Another Header — February 5, 2019 @ 4:43 am

  2. […] overnight stops in the Brittany communes of Quimper and Roscoff we paused for a couple of hours in Caramet-sur-Mer. Camaret is a fishing port in the […]

    Pingback by France: Caramet-sur-Mer | Another Header — February 5, 2019 @ 8:04 pm

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