During our summer vacation in France on July and August 2015, we decided to spend a day climbing the mountain of Locronan and exploring an impressive and unspoiled village in Bretagne, France called the town of Locronan (Locrono). It was built at the foot of a hill and the first settlement was in the 5th century B.C. The village was granted town status in 1505 by Anne of Brittany, who went there on a pilgrimage. I have learned that the town has a population of about 800, and welcomes about half million of visitors every year.
The town of Locronan is located around 15 kilometers north-west of Quimper in the Finistere department of western Brittany. It is a famous small town in Brittany, which is listed as Historic Monument since 1924 and has been awarded the title of most beautiful village in France. It is also one of the most visited sites in the Finistere and in Brittany. Because of its magnificent scenery, art, culture and rich history, it inspired numerous actors, producers and movie directors to visit the place.
I have also learned that at first it was a sacred place for the Celts known as “nemeton” and later on it became an important religious center during the Middle Ages and important center for the manufacture of sail-cloth for the local ship-building industry during the 16th and 17th centuries.
When we parked our car in the main car park, the tourist office gave us a leaflet that suggested the best route to follow when visiting the village to ensure that we didn’t miss the highlights.
But before we visited the village, we decided to climb first the “mountain” of Locronan even though it was raining hard. It is about 300 meters high above sea level. The road up to the mountain was very good but very steep, making it quite difficult to climb. While we were finding the way to the mountain, we asked some residents there about the way to the hill of Locronan but we found it interesting when they said “mountain”of Locronan and not hill. LOL!
On the way to the mountain we saw plenty of blackberries everywhere and everybody can harvest them. However, when we went there, the blackberries are still red, which means they would be ready to eat in 2 or 3 weeks time when they turned black.
At the top of the mountain of Locronan, there was a small chapel overlooking the village. It was very peaceful as there were no other tourists there, since it was pouring down. I also noticed a Celtic cross outside the church. I have learned that the Celtic monks from Wales and Ireland went to Bretagne during the Anglo-Saxon invasion circa 580, and founded villages and churches.
When we visited the village, the afternoon showers had just stopped. The village looked very lovely. It looked deserted, the old stones were still wet, and the streets were shiny, reflecting the colors of the beautiful sky.
While we were walking in the village, I noticed that the whole center of Locronan was extremely well preserved and quite extensive. The houses are built in the distinctive local granite. I also observed that the solid houses with traditional slate roves are interspersed with plenty of greenery such as various kinds of pretty flowers and trees, making the village a very attractive place to see.
At the center of the town, there’s the delightful Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle. It is an ancient chapel and it is situated in a picturesque setting. The chapel is also one of the 12 stages along a pilgrimage route called the Grande Troménie that follows the route between the villages originally followed by Saint Ronan and other saints. There’s also a short procession called Petite Troménie that takes place there on the second Sunday in July each year.
I enjoyed my day hiking to the mountain and strolling round the tiny cobbled streets admiring the old houses, the church and the fascinating views. It is a must if you are in the area. To me, Locronan is one of the most charming little towns that I have ever visited.
Little Lilly Travel Tip:
- Bring an umbrella and a light jacket because the weather in Bretagne is unpredictable.
- During the summer, it gets very touristy, so it’s better to get there early as the parking area is limited.
Have you been to the village of Locronan? What did you like best about the town?